Escape To West Sussex and the South Downs
You cannot beat the rush of adrenalin combined with muscle burn that you feel after climbing a steep hill to reach the top of the trial. But instead of the fog of fumes and crowded roads of the capital, when you cycle, run or walk in West Sussex it is often just you...reach the peak and take in the breath-taking views across the South Downs, ancient woodland, and out to sea.
West Sussex and the South Downs, known as the ‘lungs of South East England’, yet are only about an hour away from London. It is far enough away to feel remote and boasts some of the longest, most stunning mountain-biking routes in the south east. There are superb off-road tracks among rolling chalk hills, as well as miles of trails and bridleways criss-crossing the surrounding countryside.
There aren’t that many prepared trails, but that’s part of what makes this place so special. You have the freedom to mix and match what’s on offer to create your own challenging ride – whether that’s two hours cross-country up exhilarating climbs and down demanding descents, taking on the best of the single tracks in the woods and forests, or cycling on bridleways through pasture and heathland or – if you prefer the road – you are in reach of two of the toughest hill climbs in the country. For those looking for something a little more sedate, simply meander through classic English villages with the backdrop of the Downs never far away.
The area attracts keen mountain bikers. Why take advantage of the great British summer to experience what the area has to offer. A good ride is the 20 mile ride from Chichester to Kingley Vale and The Trundle saying, it includes a couple of tough climbs which are sure to get the legs burning, down to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight on the left from Kingley Vale, which is a perfect excuse to stop and catch your breath before pushing on to the top of Bow Hill.
The descents here are just as worthwhile. You pass through the middle of the Devil’s Humps, before dropping into the first big fairly steep descent which lets you build up plenty of speed and then challenges you to carry as much of it as possible through some tight corners.
After following the quiet country lane, the bridleway through West Dean Estate and a returning through Singleton Forest, passing the Good wood racecourse, you get to tackled the last climb, which your legs won't thank you for it, but at the top you will greeted by a perfect view down over Chichester towards the sea, breath taking!
Whether you are exploring by bike or on foot, West Sussex also offers some wonderful places to stop off and enjoy local food, wine and beer as well as great range of places to stay – whether that is in the National Park itself or close by – which are cyclist-friendly. Homely B&B or luxurious hotel, cosy cottage of high-quality campsite – take your pick.
As for locations, there’s just as much variety – from classic English villages, rural retreats and the Cathedral city of Chichester to market towns like Arundel with its imposing castle, or Steyning with its timber framed buildings. They are all are easily reached, from London, with direct trains from Victoria or via cross country connections.