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South Downs Way - Need some opinions!

timnoycetimnoyce Posts: 42
edited June 2009 in Routes
A group of us are considering cycling the South Downs Way this summer, having done some research it recomends that the cycling should take 3 days at a reasonable pace, but other people have done it in a day.

Please could I have a 'no BS' assesment as to what really is possible. We're all pretty fit with varying cycling abilities but August bank holiday is far enough ahead that we can do some training to make it easier.

We're based a couple of miles from QE Park so could use that as a starting point if its not deemed possible to ride the whole thing. Planning on leaving at around 5am (dawn) to make the most of the day.

Who has done it? I need some info!


  • boneyjoeboneyjoe Posts: 369
    Did it over 3 days a couple of years ago, and have to say that seemed about right to enjoy the experience. While the early start sounds good, just be careful if you're hoping for a pub/cake stop along the way to refuel - you usually have to come off the ridge to find something, and then of course climb all the way back up again! And this is mostly limited to pubs along the way, which of course have limited food serving hours.

    Also bear in mind that your overnight stops will probably be some distance from the route itself - and again involve coming off the ridge and climbing back up first thing the next day (not ideal after a full English!). While the route itself probably looks doable in 2 days, when you add on these extra bits I think 3 is better, especially as there might be some wet weather, which will make it tougher.

    Having said all that, if you start from QE park, I think 2 days should be fine. Hope that helps!
    Scott Scale 20 (for xc racing)
    Gary Fisher HKEK (for commuting)
  • boneyjoeboneyjoe Posts: 369
    Just thought I'd also mention that I don't think you could do it all in a day, even from QE park, unless you are a superman(!), and especially if you're in a group with riders of differing abilities. Make no mistake, the route is tough, with I think about 1000-2000 metres of vertical climbing each day (of 3), as you drop down into valleys and climb back up onto the ridge several times.

    You could however plan a couple of fabulous day rides from your QE park base and include much of the SDW from there - I'd really go for this option if you don't want to book more accomodation etc. There are some great books available with 3-4 hour routes around there, and it should be easy to link some of these, while QE park has some great trails too. Also worth checking in with a couple of the local bike shops, who'll probably have some useful suggestions, or even a couple of route maps they could send you.

    Best of luck!
    Scott Scale 20 (for xc racing)
    Gary Fisher HKEK (for commuting)
  • amt27amt27 Posts: 320
    ah the monthly SDW thread
  • yer granyer gran Posts: 186
    Did it in 2 days with a not very fit friend. Started Winchester at 11am; 3 pub stops; overnight at Gumber bothy; next day start at 10am; more pubs/ice cream en route; Eastbourne train station at 6.30pm. Easy, although my mate was looking a bit shagged by the end of it. I'd say allow 3 days if you want to sightsee along the way, otherwise 2 should be fine. Fantastic ride.
  • timnoycetimnoyce Posts: 42
    Thanks boneyjoe and yer gran. I'm confident I could manage it in a day, but not so about the others in the group. 2 days sounds like the best way then. Thanks for your help! Happy to hear more suggestions though if anyone is forthcoming :)
  • gsxriangsxrian Posts: 97
    Really fancy doing this,is there any good link for this.....and places to stay over for the night!!!

    stumpjumper FSR comp 2008
    trek 1.5 2010
    Orbea Alma H70
  • gregsdgregsd Posts: 328
    If you're starting at 5am from QE Park, you'll have around 14hrs daylight, so if you average around 8mph and factor in some stops, you should be able to do it in one day. It might be something to aim for?

    The British Heart Foundation runs an annual SDW ride from WInchester and lots of people do it in a day so it is achievable. The super-fit do the 'double (there and back) in under 24hrs :shock:

    If you looking for websites, this one is quite useful - Bikedowns
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