South Downs Way - Petersfield - Amberley - Hassocks - Southease - Eastbourne

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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LinusR
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South Downs Way - Petersfield - Amberley - Hassocks - Southease - Eastbourne

Postby LinusR » 14 Apr 2018, 6:02pm

I'm thinking of doing part of the South Downs Way on a day ride this coming week when the weather is looking good. I'm getting the train out of London to Petersfield to cycle east to Amberley and train back. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27236038

We've had a lot of rain this winter and early spring so I'm wondering if parts of it will be very muddy. I'll be using a mountain bike and hoping to cover the 43k at a leisurely pace within three hours or so including a picnic stop. I'll have plenty of grip with the tyres but I'd rather not wade through lots of mud.

Has anyone done this stretch recently or have knowledge? What are the conditions like?
Last edited by LinusR on 11 Oct 2018, 8:22pm, edited 5 times in total.

Bogawski
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby Bogawski » 14 Apr 2018, 6:32pm

Check the trains mate, they have been having a bus shuttle between Woking and Guildford some weekends.
Petersfield town is nice, plenty of cafes and pubs.

ebor62
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby ebor62 » 14 Apr 2018, 10:25pm

The South Downs Way runs mainly along the ridge of the chalk hills, so they drain quite well and dry quickly in good weather. Rather than deep mud you get stony track with a slime top if wet. I rode the Amberley end last week on my Dawes tourer, with no problem. Without guards spray could make a mess. Amberley is an unmanned station with no waiting room so can be a bit draughty but there is a pub 200 yards away. The weather looks good for next week, have a good ride. Your timing doesn't look totally leisurely to me, but I am 73,

sbcoombs
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby sbcoombs » 15 Apr 2018, 8:04am

I’m not sure your pace is leisurely if you intend for a picnic stop.
Last time I ride SDW, albeit the full trail, we averaged 10mph riding time. We were quite fit guys. Your route is not the tough test section but 3 hours (9mph) wouldn’t leave you much time for lunch stops or punctures.
On a sunny day, SDW is a lovely ride. Have a good ride.

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LinusR
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby LinusR » 15 Apr 2018, 8:58am

Thanks for all the info guys. Closer to four or five hours at a leisurely pace, maybe. I'm not in a hurry and the days are long. I'm likely to do it Wednesday or Thursday when it is 20 degrees so should be ok with the trains. Sounds like I could do it on my cyclocross bike. I was thinking of doing the whole SDW in stages as there are lots of train stations en route.

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Gattonero
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby Gattonero » 15 Apr 2018, 10:53am

LinusR wrote:I'm thinking of doing part of the South Downs Way on a day ride this coming week when the weather is looking good. I'm getting the train out of London to Petersfield to cycle east to Amberley and train back. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27236038

We've had a lot of rain this winter and early spring so I'm wondering if parts of it will be very muddy. I'll be using a mountain bike and hoping to cover the 43k at a leisurely pace within three hours or so including a picnic stop. I'll have plenty of grip with the tyres but I'd rather not wade through lots of mud.

Has anyone done this stretch recently or have knowledge? What are the conditions like?


IIRC, you do get some of the chalky hills on that part, they get very slippery. Some of the section when flat, will get water pooling so deep mud but nothing that cannot be done with a bit of good handling. After all, going offroad in this country means dealing with mud :mrgreen:
When I went there two years ago there were a few water taps on the route, but is always best to fill your bottles whenever possible.
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best,
since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are...

whoof
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby whoof » 15 Apr 2018, 1:53pm

Mrs Whoof's sister was walking the route starting in Winchester the week before last. She abandoned halfway, they walked three days in the rain but they abandoned on the 4th day when the weather was better she said this was due to the mud.

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LinusR
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby LinusR » 15 Apr 2018, 6:49pm

Mmm... a worrying turn of events. With the latest information I will have to do a thorough risk assessment and pack essential survival items. I may have to deploy the saddlebag!

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Gattonero
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby Gattonero » 15 Apr 2018, 8:15pm

In this country, waterproofs go without saying! :lol:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best,
since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are...

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LinusR
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby LinusR » 15 Apr 2018, 10:03pm

Gattonero wrote:In this country, waterproofs go without saying! :lol:


I think sun protection will be more useful this week :)

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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby Gattonero » 15 Apr 2018, 10:04pm

LinusR wrote:
Gattonero wrote:In this country, waterproofs go without saying! :lol:


I think sun protection will be more useful this week :)


Maybe!
For me, sun protection is when the temperature is above 35ºc and the tarmac is burning hot :mrgreen:

On a serious note, you should be ok during the week, but during the weekend you may find some runners/walkers on the way. I was unlucky to get a whole Charity event with a few hundreds people on the trail. Very annoying when you have the rookies walking on trails 3 or 4 abreast and obviously not watching at all where they are going and who's coming. Bring a LOUD bell! :lol:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best,
since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are...

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LinusR
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby LinusR » 15 Apr 2018, 10:30pm

Gattonero wrote:
On a serious note, you should be ok during the week, but during the weekend you may find some runners/walkers on the way. I was unlucky to get a whole Charity event with a few hundreds people on the trail. Very annoying when you have the rookies walking on trails 3 or 4 abreast and obviously not watching at all where they are going and who's coming. Bring a LOUD bell! :lol:


Yeah, I know the SDW can be popular which is why I want to do it mid-week and in the spring. I'll be reporting back.

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LinusR
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby LinusR » 19 Apr 2018, 10:38pm

Well that was a beautiful day! I made rather a late start so ended up leaving Petersfield train station just after midday, and getting to Amberley station at 6pm. So six hours including three stops for food, including some very good ice cream from the farm shop at Cocking.

Most of the route has dried out but there were quite a few muddy sections.

I was quite surprised how hilly it was. I was off walking quite a few times. A mix of shady and exposed trail. And I'm glad I was on my MTB rather than my cyclocross bike as there are some long, bumpy and rocky descents. I was glad to have flat bars and hydraulic brakes and Maxxis Minion DHR and DHF tyres to keep me on the trail in places.

I only saw one other cyclist, about a dozen walkers in total, and a few horseriders. Far from the madding crowd.

ImageP1010192 by linusrees, on Flickr

ImageP1010196 by linusrees, on Flickr

ImageP1010202 by linusrees, on Flickr

ImageP1010215 by linusrees, on Flickr

ebor62
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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield to Amberley

Postby ebor62 » 20 Apr 2018, 7:33pm

Glad you enjoyed the ride. Although with weather and the route, I think that was a given. Your photographs really do justice to the scenery and the terrain. Perhaps you now see why we questioned your schedule. I frequently come across groups doing the Winchester to Eastbourne route, sometimes in a day or over a few days, camping or in hotels or like yourself in sections. Judging by your bike you had good conditions, because sometimes I can't see there bike for mud. Which bit next ?

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Re: South Downs Way - Petersfield - Amberley - Hassocks

Postby LinusR » 20 Apr 2018, 7:59pm

ebor62 wrote:Glad you enjoyed the ride. Although with weather and the route, I think that was a given. Your photographs really do justice to the scenery and the terrain. Perhaps you now see why we questioned your schedule. I frequently come across groups doing the Winchester to Eastbourne route, sometimes in a day or over a few days, camping or in hotels or like yourself in sections. Judging by your bike you had good conditions, because sometimes I can't see there bike for mud. Which bit next ?


ImageP1010219 by linusrees, on Flickr

Yes, thanks everyone for the sound advice. Apart from the steep gradients the other thing that was surprising was the variety of terrain. The SDW has this image of just miles of chalk double track and heavily trekked. But for whole stretches it feels like a throwback to medieval times and the tracks show little sign of wear with more of a singletrack bridleway feel to it.

The next section I'm planning is Amberley to Newhaven but with an overnight stop at Truleigh Hill YHA. It's about 50k total distance, I think, but I'd rather take it more leisurely over two days and I'll be carrying a light saddlebag and maybe a better camera.

[edit] Actually, the YHA gets booked up pretty quick so I'm minded to do Amberley to Brighton instead (that's about 40k).

[edit] Or actually Hassocks would be a better bet as it saves me having to go into Brighton. I can leave the SDW 2k before Ditchling Beacon and ride the 3k to Hassocks station. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27287774