The view up here is amazing. To our right, forests and thickets slope down towards a labyrinth of castles, forests and country pubs. To our left, the landscape beside our trail drops starkly away beneath a big blue sky, giving us a view that stretches north for miles and miles over the Sussex Weald. It’s stunning.
We have earned this breathtaking view. We earned it through a series of gradual climbs, winding over ancient bridges and unspoiled villages up and up to the chalky ridgeline of the South Downs – where we now find ourselves soaking up the miles.
There’s a familiar and welcome rhythm to this riding. For each climb on this classic route, we coast a ridge for a while before we enjoy an equivalent descent – a chance to let gravity do the work. Bikes with rugged tyres and comforting suspension – coupled with technique tips from our professional guide – inspire confident smiles as we rattle and swoop our way back down to river level.
As our bikes take us effortlessly deeper and deeper into the next valley, we pass farmhouses and barns with yellow-painted window frames. Home-made ice cream stalls and thatched country pubs offer us refreshing rewards for our determined pedalling.
Luxury transfers and comfy beds
After a day of ups and downs, bridges and hills, it’s time to pause. We round a corner and see a familiar sight: our luxury minibus, with custom bike trailer in tow. It’s been a great day, but it’s time for a breather.
Sean, our mountain bike guide, high-fives our driver Wayne, as the experienced pair set about stowing our seven bikes in their dedicated spaces behind our vehicle. Before long, Wayne is driving us through the Sussex lanes towards Arundel – a medieval riverside town dwarfed by its castle walls. Sean and Wayne store our bikes securely, and, for those in our group who are using e-bikes, batteries are put on to recharge. We collapse onto comfy beds, we shower, then we rejoin our new friends around the dinner table. We eat. We drink. We recap on the day’s exploits. We toast the memorable successes and we laugh about the more challenging parts.
Then we sleep. We sleep deeply. Tomorrow, after another hearty breakfast, Wayne and his van will return us to the trail – where Sean will guide us through another day of fun as we make more progress. Between ridgeline stretches, we will cross the rivers Arun and Adur, as we keep following the route of the South Downs Way towards our coastal goal: Eastbourne.
A three day adventure
There are three days in all. Three days in this off-road dreamland – where every pedal stroke of effort is rewarded many times over in views, laughs and the real sense of achievement that comes from a 100 mile off-road pilgrimage.
This is the South Downs Way. It’s a remarkable ride. It really is. For British mountain bikers it has earned its place on every must-ride list – and with good reason.
Some energetic riders take on the whole 100 mile distance of the South Downs Way – with 4,000m of climbing and descent – in just a day or two, camping or bunkhousing as they go. Others prefer the Marmalade approach: the same epic trail, the same climbs and the same goal, but spread over three days, with a comfy bed, hearty meals and expert support.
Mountain biking is full of challenges. But challenges are meant to be enjoyed. See you in Arundel in 2023. We’ve saved a space on the trailer for your bike!
- Stay three nights at Arden House hosted by Lucie
- Off-street private parking
- Bike storage with charging points
- Luxury minibus transfers each day
- Fully guided by our local professional guides
- Relax and reflect together in the medieval town of Arundel