Here you will find answers to specifiic questions you might have about cycling the South Downs Way.
If you have any questions which are not answered here, please have a look at the general FAQ page here.
How long will it take to cycle the South Downs Way?
How long it will take to cycle the whole Trail depends on how used to off road cycling you are. Generally, we would expect the Trail to take 3-4 days to cycle. If you are fit and used to cycling over bumpy terrain and up and down steep hills, the Trail can be managed in just 2 days. An extreme challenge is to complete the whole length in just one day.
If you are going to try the 2 or 1 day option, make sure you have trained and prepared in advance as not only is it 100 miles (160km) long, but there is also 12,600 ft (3,800m) of ascent (over three times the height of Snowdon!)
What type of bike should I use?
The best type of bike for cycling the South Downs Way is a mountain bike. It doesn't need to be a top of the range mountain bike with full suspension, but it does need to be tough in order to cope with the rough terrain.
Much of the South Downs Way is on chalk and flint tracks and the bumps could easily do damage to less study bikes such as standard road bikes. We reccommend that whatever bike you use, it be in good condition, and working brakes are a must!
Hybrid bikes are OK in summer months when it has been dry, but the tyres are not as thick so punctures are more likely. They are not advisable in winter or wet weather as the paths can get slippery and muddy in places.
Who has right of way?
On Bridleways, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse riders. Make sure thay can hear you approach with a friendly shout or ring of a bell and please pass others slowly.
Where are the seperate Bridleway and Footpath Routes?
At various points on the Trail the route divides directing walkers one way (Footpath route) and cyclists and horse riders another way (Bridleway route). Each split of the Trail is signposted on the ground and is marked in both Ordnance Survey and Harvey Maps. For ease of use, the South Downs Way like all rights of way in England is marked using the coloured way marking system which lets you know where you are allowed to go. For details of this please click here.
There are three main points where this occurs, from West to East they are:
Between the M3 at Winchester and Chilcomb, cyclists and horse riders are directed to follow the edge of the A31 (on a cycle path) and then down Kings Lane to Chilcomb.
In the Meon Valley near Exton, cyclists and horse riders are diverted to the quiet roads around the village of Exton rather than the narrow footpath. A map of this section is available here
The main separation of routes is between Alfriston and Eastbourne. Cyclists and horse riders must take the more northerly route of the South Downs Way via Jevington, while walkers can take a southerly route over the Seven Sisters.Please be aware that walkers can also take the Bridleway routes if they prefer, so do not be surprised to see them.
What should I take with me?
The South Downs Way is a long off road Trail that can take its toll on both you and your bike. The following list is a suggestion of things you might want to take with you to stay safe and could prevent a minor incident ruining your day.
- Wear a cycle helmet
- Ensure you have enough food, drink and clothing
- Carry a map with you and know how to use it
- Carry a small tool kit or a puncture repair kit
- Consider carrying a small first aid kit
- Consider carrying a mobile phone
Are there any circular bike rides?
Visit the Walks and Rides pages of the South Downs Way website for a selection of circular routes in the South Downs.
Please note that not all the routes are sutiable for cyclists and some are for walkers only.