The next time you’re on a club ride have a look around and see if you can spot anyone staring at a plant, discussing historic sites, marvelling at geology or chasing butterflies. It’s just possible you’ve found a South Downs National Park Ambassador.

These strange creatures are found all along the South Downs Way and their role is to promote the delights of the National Park. On ‘our’ section of the South Downs there are 11 Ambassadors and a couple more over in Eastbourne. Their role is really simple. They chat, they smile and they enthuse about the wonderful countryside and its wildlife inhabitants. Ambassadors seek to encourage walkers, horse and bike riders to have fun in a responsible, environmentally friendly manner. Our ambassadors might have a little bias towards cycling, but can you blame them? The South Downs has something for every kind of cyclist to enjoy. As well as the famous South Downs Way to explore there are 1,200 km of car-free bridleways across the National Park, miles of leafy country lanes and old railway trails including the Downs Link and Centurions Way.

And, did you know, that the 160km long South Downs Way is the only UK’s National Trail which is fully traversable by bike? There are many ways to enjoy it. You could ride along the ridge to reach Ditchling Beacon and enjoy the view or cycle along the Hampshire Hangers and single track mountain bike trails at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

With so many tracks, trails and leafy lanes to discover and great places to stop for locally produced food and drink there’s never been a better time to discover the South Downs by bike. Oh, and if you spot a South Downs Ambassador be sure to offer a smile and say ‘Hi’.


Tourist Section Take on the “Beacon”

This Tuesday, six members of the Touring Section took on Sussex’s most notorious climb.

After a gentle ride along the Ouse  Valley Estuary Trail, we made the dash to Lewes up the C7, warming up our climbing muscles on the hill up to the Prison Crossroads. After regrouping the route took us out past Offham on the A275 and then left towards Plumpton on the B2116, and onto Underhill Lane.

After a short breather to discuss tactics at the end of Underhill Lane it was straight on to the “Hill”. All riders completed the ride non-stop to the top, pausing for the obligatory photo, before descending along Ditchling Road and the back road to Stanmer Village to the Stanmer Tea Rooms for well-earned refreshments.

The homeward journey was via the A27 cycle path, Kingston Village, C7,  Egrets Way and Piddinghoe Village.

There are usually three touring section rides each week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The tourist pace of about 12 mph average speed allows us to take in the scenery and will always involve a refreshment stop or two.

Happy Cycling,  Dave Sutton


Windmills and Rivers – 4C MTB ride report

The warm sunshine and sheer numbers added to the excitement of the Thirty One (yes, 31!) MTB riders who met up at The White Lion for an 8:30am start on Sunday 2nd April. Our group of 20 club members who were riding the longer 4C route left first to head up to Bopeep, then onward past the two aerial towers above Firle Beacon. The views were still partly shrouded in mist, but this gradually cleared throughout the 28-mile ride.

Heading towards the aerials above Firle Beacon

Our usual route (after dropping down to Southease) is to follow the Egrets Way rider-side trail to Piddinghoe then up through Peacehaven via valley road, but this time we stayed on the South Downs Way (SDW) for the more challenging climbs up Mill Hill, Front Hill and Iford Hill – that’s a lot of hills. At the top we stopped for a quick refuel before heading further West along the SDW.

The chalky descent to Ashcombe (Kingston) is rather technical, with deep ruts and rain gulleys to negotiate. Despite this, everyone rode with skill and confidence to Kingston Ridge and the Juggs Road, pausing for a photo-stop at Ashcombe windmill at St Anne Without. From this half-way point we had done all the climbing and could now look forward to drinking in the views on the flat return journey.

Warm sunshine and great views at Ashcombe windmill

After crossing a narrow bridge high above the A27 we took some back streets (Morely Close & Cluny St.) to The Cockshut, then we followed the river banks to Egrets Way back home to Newhaven & Peacehaven.

This ride was really great fun with some marvellous personal achievements, wonderful weather and great company. Thanks to Tim & Chris for co-herding such a large group.

You can see the route we took by clicking on this link.

MTB 3C – Standean Bottom

Starting at 8am on Sunday at The White Lion, Seaford, 12 riders braved the icy conditions to ride the Ouse Esturay Trail (the gravel cycle path) to Newhaven to pick up another rider at Denton Corner. With thirteen of us in the group we rode along the cycle paths past Denton Island and round to the back of the Jolly Boatman. We crossed the C7 road and headed up Valley Road past the school, then tackled the short but very sharp climb to the A259 cycle path. We saw that the conversion of the footpath (to a surfaced cycleway) from the A259 to Ashington Gardens is now underway, and we’re looking forward to its completion in 5 weeks. Until that time the path will be closed.

Footpath clearance, ready for the cycle way


We cycled through The Big Park then along quiet roads up to Telscombe Road, out onto Teslcombe Tye then along the bridleways to Harvey’s Cross. It was very chilly out there in the open countryside, with some thick ice on the puddles but, despite the light fog, the views were worth it.

Ice breaker

The group continued on towards Standean Bottom then the long, slow, circuitous climb up to Woodingdean – being a long meandering route makes it less of a daunting climb, and the valley is both beautiful and quiet. My favourite place. We met a fellow rider who joined us for part of the ride. It’s great when you bump into other riders en-route, and you soon get to recognised familiar faces taking advantage of the amazing countryside we have around here.

Frost and sun at Standean Bottom

After the climb we heading down a farm track bridleway into Rottingdean and onto the under cliff to Saltdean. The climb out of Saltdean to Peacehaven is always a challenge, especially after 18 miles of cross-country riding, and the clifftop path is not as flat as you’d think.

Having encountered thick ice, sloppy puddles and slippery mud, we got back to Seaford safely and exactly on time at noon, the 26 miles and 1700 feet of climbing taking us four hours. A huge ‘well done’ to the riders who stepped up their game to do this challenging ride in tricky conditions.


GPS Video of the route we took:
Cycle Seahaven calendar:
History of Harvey’s cross:
Footpath Peacehaven 12:

PS. Next week’s ride options are a 2B to Bopeep trig point, and a 2.5C ride to Bopeep and Friston Forest. More details in the calendar at

2B Bright & Cold Beginners Ride

A clear bright, if not very cold Sunday morning saw 13 of us leaving Seaford heading towards Newhaven on the Ouse Estuary Trail. Upon reaching Newhaven we were joined by another rider taking our number to 14, a great turn out on such a cold morning. The cold frosty morning meant the grassy trails along the riverbank to Piddinghoe were solid and easier to ride. A quick hop on the C7 saw us arrive at Deans Farm and the start of Valley road taking us to the back of Peacehaven. Due to some of the group venturing out on the own rides, I took the opportunity at certain points to advise where we were and possible alternative routes that maybe taken. Our coffee stop this week was the café at the Big Park in Peacehaven, which was very welcome, in order to de-frost our fingers & toes. Feeling refreshed and de-frosted we head towards the A259 and up & over the Highway, dropping down to & along the Quay side in Newhaven before returning to Seaford via the Ouse Estuary Trail. As always on our beginners rides assistance and advice was offered to less experienced riders in order to boost their confidence and enjoyment whilst on our rides. Well done to all riders that came along today, and to Roy for assisting me leading the ride this morning.

Paul Sandles
Ride Leader 


2B Beginners / Improvers MTB Ride

With the forecast looking wet & windy 10 of us set out from The White Lion in Seaford, following our usual route upto Bo-peep, picking up the Southdowns Way and heading over to Southease and back to Seaford via Newhaven. Some of the group hadn’t ridden this route before and, given the first half is mostly climbing, they all rode well with only a few stops to re-group. Once up on the Downs the rain eased & the mist lifted, allowing views inland towards Glynde & Lewes. After dropping down Itford Hill to the bridge crossing over A26 we headed for the YHA café for a very welcome hot drink and cake. We couldn’t have timed it better, 5 minutes after we arrived the Intermediate group turned up and joined us for a drink and chat. Feeling refreshed we headed back out into the rain and homeward bound via Egrets Way, Piddinghoe riverbank and Newhaven to Seaford. Although we were wet, muddy & tired, there were smiles on our faces after a great mornings ride.
Cheers Paul Sandles

Brighton Races Ride Report (4C)

8am on a chilly Sunday morning is not everyone’s ideal start to the day, but a few hardy souls took on the challenge. Despite the low temperatures we were treated to bright sunshine the entire route.

First we climbed up Seaford’s Firle Road to bear left onto the twin-track concrete road around Seaford (Blatchington) golf course. Where the climb flattens out there’s a crossroads with a gate to the left. Go through this and follow the grass track all the way to Bopeep. It’s about 4 miles of steady climbing, but it’s one of the best ways to see the views over the weald, and a great way onto the South Downs Way (SDW).

From Bopeep we turned left and followed the SDW to Southease, the same route taken by the 2B ride later the same day. After crossing the railway and the river bridge we took a left turn to follow Egrets Way along the river banks to the outskirts of Piddinghoe. We crossed the C7 to continue our off-road route to the back of Peacehaven along Valley Road (Peacehaven), and on to Telscombe Tye. Bridleways took us past Harvey’s Cross before climbing up through the picturesque Standean Bottom in Castle Hill nature reserve (one of many local reserves with the same name) to Woodingdean.

The Drove is a recently tarmac-surfaced shared-path from the top of Woodingdean all the way to Brighton Races – so we enjoyed a lovely gentle descent while we got our breath back. Then following the faster descent through Sheepcote Valley to Brighton Marina, we rode on the flat undercliff path to Saltdean. After coffee and cake in the warm sunshine outside Molly’s café we climbed up from the undercliff to ride along the clifftop path to Newhaven, before picking up the A259 shared walking/cycle path to Newhaven then onto Seaford via Valley Road (Newhaven), The Jolly Boatman and the cycle path past Denton Island.

32 miles, 2800 feet of climbing, then ready for Sunday lunch 🙂

Click the link for an aerial flyby of our route with photographs:



3C MTB Sunday Morning Ride Report

8am Sunday morning, not a natural time of the day, saw 11 of us congregate at the White Lion (outside!). It was great to see some of the regular Sunday riders but even more pleasing to see 4 members who were stepping up the normal level of their rides from some of our beginner/improver rides. Continual, unhurried development of riders is so important to the clubs ethos.

The route was to take us out to Friston Forest where we would climb through the trees to join the Old Willingdon Road. The Blustery conditions meant we flew along the seafront to the forest. After a suitable amount of “Property Envy” along the Old Willingdon Road we continued to Butts Brow where the grassy decent into Jevington is much more pleasant than the South Downs Way decent.

It was at Jevington that the ride got a bit more interesting…. a rider, nothing to do with the club, was seen disappearing up the SDW so six of the group followed, thinking he was with us. Unfortunately we were due to go through the village to pick up the Wealdon Way, Opps! There was a bit of a break till the next 5 reached the junction, as a call of nature had been attended to, so we got split up. After a quick phone call the “Rogue group” continued up the SDW to rejoin the intended route at Windover Hill, while the rest of us continued onto Wealdon Way. What a great way to get around to the Cuckmere Valley this is. A bit technical for short parts and probably no good in the wet but the views are breathtaking.

All back together at the gate at Chapel Hill and a quick dash through Alfriston only left the lovely Fight Club climb to conquer, before annoying the golfers as we crossed their very lovely fairways (on the bridleway) to return to the White Lion for a well deserved pint or two!

So ride that started as a hard 3C certainly turned into a 4C for some, but those riders who were progressing through the levels had no issues at all, sometimes it’s just a matter of confidence.

–  Dave Barlow


The South Downs Way above Jevington (rogue route)



Riding underneath the Long Man from Folkington to Alfriston (the planned route)



Waiting to cross the road at Deans Place, Alfriston, to head up the bridleway to Rathfinny



Taking a breather at the T-junction to Flint Barns on the Rathfinny Estate



Rathfinny Estate vineyard


Final Drop to Seaford

Final drop to Seaford from Blatchington golf course


Click here for Andy Lock’s GPS video of our route:


Ride Report – Brighton Races – 4C

Thirteen intrepid riders set out form the White Lion at 8am on Sunday morning, 20th March. It was a breezy day and just warm enough for shorts, but only if you also wore a few layered tops.

We took the Ouse Estuary trail from Seaford to Newhaven, then the cycle track past Denton Island and onto the Jolly Boatman. A nice flat warm-up to get the legs and heart going. The long, slow, gentle climb along Newhaven’s Valley Road is a club favourite, and is a way of getting to Peacehaven on quieter roads. After a final short/sharp climb up to the A259 cycle track we road through the Big Park and up to Telscombe Road. We then go to the bridleways that took us on to Woodingdean and the lovely new cycle track down ‘The Drove’ to Brighton racetrack. The descent to Brighton Marina was long and fast, and a terrific reward for all the height we gained.

A short stop for coffee (free refills) and cake at Weatherspoons was a bargain at only £2.75. Suitably refreshed we rode the lovely undercliff route back to Saltdean. The warmth of the pub was a stark contrast to the cold wind. Was a Seaford morning really that much warmer than a Brighton afternoon, or had we got too cosy in the pub? The short and steep climb up from the underfcliff is always a shock, but it was over quickly. That left us with a very scenic ride along the cliff top through Peacehaven and up The Highway past Rushey Park. We descended Upper Valley Road right back down to Valley Road to return to Seaford via Valley Road – the same way we had started out.

Another great ride with lovely company.

Route map and timings:

Brighton races

Brighton races

Mind the puddles

Mind the puddles

Jelly babies

Jelly babies

Cliff Top, Peacehaven

Cliff Top, Peacehaven

Smile for the camera

Smile for the camera

Steep descent

Steep descent