Sussex mountain biking on the South Downs
Sussex mountain biking along the South Downs, is a great activity for all the family. Depending on the ages and stamina of your children, it is possible to cycle up to Ditchling Beacon from either Brighton in the south or Ditchling, which is just at the foot of the Downs.
Please share your favourite Sussex Mountain Biking Route.
Alternatively, you can negotiate the train with your bikes, getting off at Hassocks, on the London to Brighton mainline route; or for a less green option, load your bikes on the back of your car and head for the car park at Ditchling Beacon, just north of Brighton. (Be prepared to pay a nominal parking fee to the National Trust Attendant.) There, the views stretch for miles around...
From Ditchling Beacon, cycle a couple of miles east along the South Downs Way to Blackcap, just outside Lewes; if you want a more challenging Sussex mountain biking run, continue towards Eastbourne. Or, go west to Devil's Dyke (about 4/5 miles) and further, to Chanctonbury Ring.
If you'd like to cycle the whole of the South Downs Way, you'll need to plan your trip carefully and use a good route map - try our detailed sections of the Harvey's map of the South Downs Way
Alternatively, just enjoy the mile and a half run along to the Jack and Jill windmills - a lovely easy route for families with younger kids. Jack Mill is privately owned, but Jill Mill has been fully restored by a team of dedicated volunteers and is now in full working order. You can even purchase a bag of freshly ground organic Sussex flour on Visitor Open Days! It's a fascinating place to explore and is usually open between 2-5pm most Sundays from May through to September. (Click on photo to view brief video shot from a glider flying over these windmills.)
If you don't want to go mountain biking off-road, then it's possible to follow the route of the London to Brighton Bike Ride and simply cycle from Ditchling up and over the Beacon, across the Downs and then on to Brighton. Depending on your stamina and whether you stay on your bike all the way, the journey should not take more than about 30-40 minutes from Ditchling - maybe an hour for the less fit!
New record for cycling South Downs Way both ways!
In May 2009, a new record was set for cycling the South Downs Way both ways. Bearing in mind that the route both ways is 200 miles long, the new record of 18 hours 3 minutes and 12 seconds, is almost an unbelievable achievement!
Prefer to have your cycling adventure organised for you? Then you may want to contact ZigZag cycling.
ZigZag Cycling organises guided mountain bike rides in the South Downs and beyond. They are qualified and enthusiastic mountain bike leaders offering a wide range of great mountain bike experiences designed to meet your interests. They are based on the doorstep of the South Downs National Park and the start of the Downs Link, with easy access to a vast network of routes over some of the most scenic countryside in the UK.
What's your Best South Downs Mountain Bike Route?
What's your favourite South Downs Mountain Bike Route? Share it here with other mountain bikers!
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'Sustrans' cycle routes in Sussex
Sustrans is a campaigning charitable organisation, aiming to improve cycle routes and bike access all over the UK. Visit this page, where over a dozen great Sussex biking routes are described.
Additional mountain biking and cycle routes in East Sussex
A range of cycle route in East Sussex available to download as pdfs.
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Mountain Bike hire
Seven Sisters Cycle Company
Open all year round for bike hire, children's parties, team-building days and other group activities. New bikes for sale.
A family cycle hire and outdoor activity centre, located in a fantastic rural area of outstanding natural beauty, adjacent to 1800 acres of Friston Forest and within the Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex.
South Downs Bikes, Storrington, West Sussex
Everything available for the cyclist - bikes and bike parts, as well as bikes for hire.
Other useful Sussex mountain biking links
For a less challenging ride try the famous Cuckoo Trail
The Cuckoo Trail is a favourite cycle ride for families in Sussex. It gained its name from an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Fair. Offering peaceful, traffic-free cycling, the Cuckoo Trail was once a railway line; it runs through a mixture of broadleaf woodland, open grassland, arable farmland, and pasture.
South Downs Mountain Biking
This group offers guided Sussex mountain biking along the South Downs. Catering for beginners as well as experienced cyclists, they employ qualified guides to help you to learn mountain biking from scratch or to improve your skills. Their knowledge of the Downs is excellent.
Check their site for a range of routes both in Sussex and in the UK.
Great bicycle adventures with additional information about countries, mechanics, do's and do'nts and much more. Stories about cycling in China, Laos, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Turkey and many more.
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