Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Summer is here!

3rd July 2014

The sun has been shinning here on the SDW for weeks! On some parts of the trail not a drop of rain has fallen for weeks. This is good news and bad. It’s great for those enjoying the SDW, but much of it is in the open so don’t forget your hat, sun cream and plenty of water. The bad news is the long days and warm weather with the earlier spring rains have meant lots of vegetation growth. The South Downs National Park staff and volunteers as well as the county councils have all had their crews out cutting, but still it grows.

Talking of water, don’t forget that the SDW is privileged to have a small network of free drinking water points. A list of these can be downloaded from the Trail Information section of the website or see the interactive map (water points are shown under the equestrian info tab.).  I’ve been working with the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service to increase the number of taps and several new taps should be operational in the coming months.

I recently had a rare weekend free so I decided to take off my trail managers’ hat and put on my cycle helmet as a punter. With a couple of friends I cycled the whole trail on a hot June weekend. Having walked and ridden every inch of the trail many times over it was a very different experience to ride the whole route in a continuous ride. I learned a few things I’d like to pass on to you.

  • I’m a fit cyclist used to riding off road. Riding the 100 miles in two days was a good challenge, but not to be underestimated. It’s not so much the mileage but the ascents 3800m is a long way up!
  • The climbs on the eastern half are tougher than those in the western half.
  • I drank about 8 litres of water each day, so those water taps vital.
  • Set off early to avoid the heat.
  • Check the events listing on the website to try to avoid getting entangled with any large events.
  • If you can get someone to meet you with food, drink and overnight stuff to avoid carrying too much.

Don’t forget if you have completed the SDW on foot, bike or horseback you can give us your feedback and claim your free certificate via our on-line survey.

Please remember this is the busiest time of year and the time when vegetation can restrict the width of the trail. So being considerate to other users is more important than ever. Please understand others needs. Horses can get spooked by runners or cyclists, be patient and give them space. Cyclists when in a rut can not always easily move out of the rut, so if possible step aside. Cyclists please make your presence  known with a ring of a bell or friendly shout. Always say hello and thank people for making room. The trail is there to be shared.



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Friends at the Winchester start of the SDW.
Taking a well earned rest at Harting Down.
At the Eastbourne end of the SDW after 100 miles and 12,600ft in the saddle.