Cost To Ride: FOC (Parking costs vary).
The South Downs Way stretches for 90 miles between Eastbourne, East Sussex and Winchester, Hampshire, encountering picturesque villages and stunning scenery. The route crosses the South Down National Park and encounters famous south coast landmarks of Birling Gap and The Seven Sisters. The South Downs Way is mainly off-road, and shared by horse riders, walkers and mountain bikers.
There are two eastern start points both on the outskirts of Eastbourne. The coastal route from Eastbourne to Alfriston is for walkers only and is 17.5 kilometres. The inland route is the bridleway section and runs from Eastbourne to Alfriston via Jevington. This section is 12 kilometres long.
With a trail that's shared by so many interest groups, it's not hard to imagine that the South Downs Way lacks the technical demands found on bike specific routes. The trail is often long and straight - do one hill and you've done them all.
The other school of thought is where else can you ride 90 miles nearly all off-road in the South East? And that's exactly what bumps the score up so significantly on this trial. It comes with stunning views too - one side of rolling fields, the other, the English Channel.
With a total of nearly 12,000 feet of climbing, 3x Snowdon from sea level, no doubts are left as to why its such a popular route for charity events! The other challenge comes in the form of its exposure to the elements. You are riding a very different trail on a peaceful sunny day and a stormy autumn one. Remember to pack protective clothing!
The average completion time of the South Downs Way is 3 days.
Head for Chesil Street multi-storey car park, Barfield Close, SO23 0HU (Link). From the garage you want to head up Barfield Close, turn left onto Chesil St, follow Chesil St until you reach the cross road. Here, turn left and follow until road forks. Take right fork (Petersfield Rd) until you reach Fivefields Road. where this road ends, the South Downs Way starts. Phew!
Parking on seafront (pay & display). Follow signposts for station, then follow A259 towards East Dean. Official start point is at Eastbourne Downs Golf Club - E Dean Rd, Eastbourne BN20 8ES
At peak times (for example Summer weekends or bank holidays) it might be worth parking at Polegate station which is just off the A27 and A22 to the north of the town. Here there is a large car park with frequent trains to Eastbourne.