Saturday 28 July 2018

Cycling the South Downs Way, Winchester to Steyning

For big skies and big hills, take the train down to Winchester and ride east on the South Downs Way. Approaching 100 km off-road and involving almost 2,000 metres of climbing, this is a tough, but rewarding ride, taking in many scenic stretches of this 100-mile long bridleway. The second half of the trip, after you have crossed the A3, is the most picturesque with wide-ranging views of England's green and pleasant land. Including stops for drinks, lunch and repairs, it might take you most of the day to complete this on a mountain bike. There aren't many places to buy drinks or food on the route and few water taps, so bring plenty of provisions or fill your boots at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park Visitor Centre, about 37 km into the journey. The stony trail is up and down nearly all the way, with few flat stretches, taking a toll on your legs. Strewn with rocks, some of the latter climbs many force you off the bike, but many of the descents are great fun, particularly those on wide grassy banks. Navigation is reasonably easy and you can catch the train back to London from Shoreham-by-Sea or you can stay the night in a hotel in Steyning and ride the remaining 40 miles of the South Downs Way the following day, weather permitting.  9/10