Eastern Downs Escape

(1 customer review)

Ride info

Days: 2
Style: Cross-country (XC)
Level: 4

MTB Ride Level 4


2 nights half board
Cosy farmhouse
Ensuite rooms
Bike store & charging


Day 1: 14 mi | 22 km
Day 2: 20 mi | 32 km


Day 1: 1,800 ft | 550 m
Day 2: 2,800 ft | 850 m

Eastern Downs Escape

(1 customer review)

26-28 April 2024
Total price from £470 single occupancy & £350 double occupancy – Half board

Two days of fun will include twisting woodland trails, the undulating ridgeline of the South Downs Way and the mighty spectacle of the Long Man of Wilmington. The adventures will be spectacular, but the pace will be tuned to your level, and each evening you’ll return to the wonderful comfort of Saltmarsh ready to refuel and relax.

Booking more than one room? Select occupancy and room type for your first room, add to basket, then repeat.
Electric and non-electric mountain bike hire is also available.

Want this amazing ride to yourself? We’ll arrange a private mountain biking retreat on the South Downs for you.


Arrive at the Sussex coast by the evening ready to unwind from a busy week. Then in the morning, your expert Marmalade MTB guide will begin by introducing you to the core off-road skills you’ll need to begin your journey as a mountain biker – whether on an electric or fully-pedal-powered mountain bike.

If you like to take it easy during a relaxing break, think of a mountain bike as an easy way to explore. Make use of an electric bike if you like, to really ease you up the hills to take in the stunning scenery – from the picturesque villages of Alfriston and Litlington to the winding waters of Cuckmere Haven. Explore gentle off-road trails that take you to hidden sights so often missed by visitors: ancient cottages, quirky churches and riverside hostelries waiting to welcome you.

If your idea of a good time involves a bit of exercise and adventure, you’ll love it here too. Mountain biking on the South Downs can unlock big challenges and rugged terrain. It just takes a local guide to show you where to find the best trails.

Two days of fun will include twisting woodland trails, the undulating ridgeline of the South Downs Way and the mighty spectacle of the Long Man of Wilmington. The adventures will be spectacular, but the pace will be tuned to your level, and each evening you’ll return to the wonderful comfort of Saltmarsh ready to refuel and relax.

Your local guide is a British Cycling qualified leader who knows this area like no other. They’ll encourage you up the big climbs and help you make the most of the thrilling descents.

Active retreats close to london cuckmere haven south downs national park saltmarsh farmhouse

Rooms & Prices

Ride then relax

When the riding’s done, we retire to the Saltmarsh a 16th century converted farmhouse we’ve are partnering with for its warm welcome and hearty food. Perfect for refreshing and recharging your batteries before another day of South Downs adventure.


We have put together these alternative two day trips to give you the best location and team for you to enjoy these locally crafted cross-country classics. Mix this all together with the usual fun and social elements that Marmalade is famous for and you have the perfect recipe for an unbeatable experience that you will talk about for a very long time.

Full details of our 2024 Saltmarsh South Downs Biking Retreat are below, along with additional information on the other tabs. If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Dates:
    • 26-28 April 2024
  • Places available: 8 (max.)
  • Total price per person half board: (incl. VAT)
    (s/o = single occupancy | d/o = double occupancy | tw = Twin)
    • The Saltwater full suite: £440**
      • For groups of four with a total price of £1,760
      • Two ensuite rooms plus a cosy shared lounge area
    • The Saltwater: £470 (s/o) | £350* (d/o) | £350* (tw)
    • The Seaview: £470 (s/o) | £350* (d/o)
    • Under the eaves: £470 (s/o) | £350* (d/o)
      • Dogs are welcome for additional charge
    • The Seabreeze: £470 (s/o) | £350* (d/o)
      • Dogs are welcome for additional charge
    • The Seahorse: £350* (tw)
    • Non-participating partner or friend sharing a double or twin: * £275 | ** £365
    • All rooms are ensuite
    • Twin room options Available for friends who are happy to share
  • Payment (booking 60 days or more before trip)
    • £150 per person deposit on booking, by credit/debit card
    • Balance due 60 days before trip, by bank payment
    • Subject to our standard Terms and Conditions
  • Payment (booking less than 60 days before trip)
    • Full balance payable on booking, by credit/debit card

What’s included:

  • 2 nights’ half board at the historic and cosy Saltmarsh Farmhouse
    • 10 minutes by taxi from Seaford train station
    • Less than an hour by car from Gatwick Airport
  • Full bike guiding by Mark Wild our British Cycling qualified local MTB leader

What’s not included:

  • Drinks with your evening meal
  • Travel to our accommodation from your home – and back
  • Personal activity and holiday insurance
  • Bike hire (options available)
  • Bike spares
  • Ride snacks and drinks
Your choice of Bike

The easterns Downs can be ridden on all kinds of bike. Hardtail mountain bikes are a popular choice, but we increasingly see gravel bikes and e-bikes in our groups – as well as some full suspension bikes. All are welcome. Each climb, and each descent, is taken at the speed that’s right for you, and we manage our groups carefully to ensure no-one feels left behind. If you’d like to hire a bike for the trip, we can recommend Cuckmere Cycle Co.

Is this for me?
  • This active retreat on the South Downs is aimed at the novice off-road cyclist and the regular beginner mountain biker looking for a sociable group activity. Your experienced and qualified leader will provide guidane on the core skills and fundamentals of mountain biking to maximise your safety and enjoyment during the two days
  • To take part, you’ll need to be an active person who has the personal fitness to ride for at least 4 hours at a social and comfortable pace
  • You should be confident riding a bike on roads or smooth terrain, able to operate it safely, before joining us to look at off-road skills
  • The trails may include features such as roots and loose rocks, along with small rollable steps – all of which can be easily ridden or avoided
  • The routes will contain undulating trails – and in places, climbs that may be challenging
  • This terrain requires a suitable mountain bike (Hybrid and budget bicycles are not suitable)
    • See the ‘Bike Hire‘ section below if you need to hire a bike
  • Riders should be aged 18 and over
  • If this ride sounds a little beyond your current skill and fitness level, please contact us and we’ll help you look at other options

Active retreats close to london cuckmere haven south downs national park saltmarsh farmhouse

Day One: The Long Man of Wilmington and Friston Forest
  • Duration: 4-6 hours 
  • Distance: 14 mi | 22 km
  • Elevation gain: upto 1,800 ft | 550 m
  • Technical Grade: Advanced beginner (minimum)

Starting at the beautiful Seven Sisters Country Park we will ride through beautiful Beech woodland and along fantastic South Downs bridleways passing ancient villages, a ruined priory and of course the iconic Long Man of Wilmington. After the must-have group photo in front of this chalk giant, we will explore Windover Hill before stopping in one of the many local artisan cafes for light lunch.

Through-out the afternoon, we will enjoy more wonderful flowing trails that will eventually lead us back through the Cuckmere valley via some fantastic fast rolling descents to our base at the Saltmarsh Farmhouse for a cold beer, refreshing smoothie or locally roasted coffee.

Day Two: Firle Beacon and the Five Lords
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Distance: 20 mi | 32 km
  • Elevation gain: upto 2,800 ft | 850 m
  • Technical Grade: Advanced beginner (minimum)

Can this retreat get any better? Well, yes it can! Day two is all about showing you the epic views and rolling downland west of the Cuckmere Valley. We will head out from the Saltmarsh after another hearty breakfast on a familiar start as we wind through Friston Forest out to the Lullington Nature Reserve. From here is when we really start to show you the vast network of off-road trails we have in this area as head down to Alfriston via the super fun bridleway into Lullington Court.

You’ll cross the meandering river Cuckmere on the quaint wooden bridge before climbing out of this famous village towards Firle Beacon on the South Downs Way. High above the weald to the north and the sea to the south, your guide Mark, will really show off his local knowledge by handpicking the best undulating trails that twist and turn high above Seaford as you explore the Five Lords Burgh then back to Alfriston via the Rathfinny estate. There’ll be time to sample the best cakes in Alfriston before returning back to the farmhouse to wrap up this two day adventure in East Sussex.

Active retreats close to london cuckmere haven south downs national park saltmarsh farmhouse

What do I need?

Equipment, kit and clothing


  • Suitable mountain bike in good working order (bikes can be hired in advance)
  • Helmet (in good condition, with no damage)
  • Clothing and shoes appropriate for cycling and weather conditions on the day
  • Personal choice of drink and ride snacks
  • Spare rear mech hanger specific for your bike


  • Gloves
  • Glasses, sunglasses or eyeshields
  • Hydration backpack (min. 2 liters)
  • Spare inner tubes
  • Spare spokes specific to your bike wheels
  • Puncture repair kit and bicycle pump
  • Padded cycling shorts for comfort

What’s not included

  • Bike hire – this can be booked with Cuckmere Cycle Co.
  • Personal clothing & equipment
  • Pre, during or post activity refreshments
  • Personal travel or accident Insurance
  1. Peter Adams

    Another amazing weekends cycling with Marmalade MTB. We were expertly lead by a guide Mark Wild and enjoyed great company with my fellow riders. This coupled both a stay at Saltmash farmhouse and Emma’s warm hospitality makes for a highly recommended trip.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 for Marmalade MTB – 5559, and in the event of their insolvency, protection is provided for:

  • Non-flight packages

ABTOT cover provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled or repatriation if transportation was included in your package.  Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with Marmalade MTB.  

In the unlikely event that you require assistance whilst abroad due to our financial failure, please call our 24/7 helpline on 01702 811397 and advise you are a customer of an ABTOT protected travel company.

You can access The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 here:  https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/634/contents/made 

You can find out more about ABTOT here: https://www.abtot.com/

Package Tour Regulations ABTOT Member Marmalade MTB

Bike hire (extra information)

How to book your bike:

  1. From the system below select the dates to match the retreat you have booked with us
  2. Select the full day option
  3. Select normal mountain bike or electric mountain bike
  4. Choose the size of bike, based on your height
  5. Go to checkout and complete the bike hire reservation for each rider

Please Note:
The bike hire system below can sometimes have a delay before it has fully loaded. If it fails to show, then visit Cuckmere Cycle Company direct to reserve your bike. Then return to this page to confirm your place on our guided ride.

(** Marmalade MTB is not responsible for the provision of these bikes. By using the system below you are booking direct with Cuckmere Cycle Company)

Choose your date, occupancy and room

Choose your date, occupancy and room

    Your Basket
    Your basket is emptyReturn to Shop