With renowned cycling routes across the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park and the flat paths of the Manhood Peninsula, there is a cycle path to suit all levels of ability and enthusiasm, and all types of bike. With its chalky hills, National Park scenery and peaceful English villages, Chichester District draws riders from far and wide to soak up the Sussex countryside and put their muscles to the test.
The Great Sussex Wine Tour
Length: 45 miles
Terrain: A mixture of road and off-road
Difficulty: Challenging, but can also be split into smaller easier sections
Whether you like life in the slow lane or prefer a more energetic challenge, The Great Sussex Wine Route offers something for everyone. Originally designed to be a challenging cycle over two days, this route can be split into three smaller sections for those wishing to sample just a slice of the Sussex Wine Tour.
Taking in many of the sights that will be seen by those participating in Eroica Britannia, this route brings together three of Sussex’s finest vineyards (Tinwood Estate, Upperton Estate and Ashling Park Estate), Goodwood House and motor circuit, an array of Sussex’s prettiest villages and the rolling hills of the South Downs.
Whether you want to stop at each vineyard or power through, this spectacular route has easy and challenging sections and combines road and off-road, offering the best of all worlds. Staying mostly away from busy roads and taking you deep into some of the most beautiful parts of West Sussex.
Length: 100 miles (full length), can be undertaken in smaller sections
Terrain: Rough, off-road, chalky terrain. Demanding climbs and steep ascents.
Perhaps the most iconic cycle route in the UK, the South Downs Way traverses the Chichester District, offering some of the best views of our spectacular Sussex scenery. Enjoy breath-taking panoramas, picturesque towns and villages, and a huge variety of landscapes and wildlife along this 100-mile national trail.
It takes between seven and nine days to complete the entire 100-mile stretch of the famous South Downs Way. If you’re short on time however, why not sample some of the best bits in one day? You’ll find demanding climbs and steep descents, mixed with flatter sections whatever section you choose to tackle.
Join the trail at Cocking Village, a few miles south of Midhurst, Harting Down or Bignor Hill near Amberley. Due to the chalky, stoney and sometimes muddy terrain mountain bikes are advised. The South Downs Way is not suitable for road bikes.
Length: 5.5 miles
Terrain: Flat tarmac and gravel
Travel back in time and you’d find a railway line running between Chichester and the historic market town of Midhurst. This was used to for the transportation of sugar beet, among many other things. Fast-forward to today however and you’ll find the track, which was closed in 1957, has been replaced with tarmac to create a cycle path perfect for all the family.
This flat and easy route, which traverses through Sussex’s spectacular countryside, runs from Chichester to the village of West Dean (or vice versa) and is mostly off-road. Along the route, you’ll encounter the Chichester Road Gang sculptures, by Cornish sculptor David Kemp, created using empty oxygen gas cylinders to depict a gang of Roman road workers.
Length: 18 miles
Terrain: Off-road, muddy terrain
If you like mud, this one’s for you. A challenging 18-mile route, the Midhurst East off-road cycle route does as it says on the tin, getting off-road (and muddy!) around the outskirts of Midhurst. While there’s a historic market town waiting to be explored, you’ll find miles of woodland, steep ascents, single-tracks, bridleways and fields surrounding the town. The Midhurst East circular route explores the very best of this rugged landscape, bringing in sections of the Serpent Trail – a 64-mile track running from Haslemere to Petersfield – and River Rother too.
The route begins and ends in the centre of Midhurst, close to an assortment of independent cafes for post-ride refreshments.
This route is suitable for competent cyclists on mountain and hybrid bikes with off road tyres only.
Midhurst South Pond, at the start of the route (Christopher Ison)
Length: 13 miles
Terrain: Flat, mostly tarmac
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
An easier ride all round, this family friendly circular route explores the length and breadth of Chichester Harbour. This fascinating corner of Sussex is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) thanks to its rare wildlife and costal habitats, all of which can be admired on route.
This 13-mile route begins and ends at Chichester Marina, passing by Chichester Canal, Chichester Yacht Club and through the waterside villages of Itchenor, Bosham, Fishbourne and Appledram along the way. Make a day of it by stopping to sample the local food and drink in the multitude of pubs and cafés along the way, or explore more of village life by the sea.
The route includes a ride on the Itchenor/Bosham ferry which has been providing crossings across the harbour for over 400 years. Relax and enjoy the sights as you cross the scenic harbour.
Please note that the section between the ferry and Bosham floods when the tide is 4.7m or higher. We recommend avoiding this section two hours either side of high tide.
Length: 14 miles
Terrain: Flat, mostly tarmac
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Taking in similar sights to the Chichester Harbour circular cycle route, the 14-mile Itchenor and Bosham route begins and ends at the Market Cross in Chichester City Centre. Finishing just footsteps from the bars and restaurants might be enough to lure you to this route, especially if post-ride dinner and drinks are enough to tempt you.
From the Market Cross, you’ll cross the railway line and head towards the coastal village of Fishbourne, home to the famous Fishbourne Roman Palace. From there, the route continues through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as you explore the rest of Chichester Harbour, Itchenor and Bosham.
This route is suitable for all abilities and includes travelling on the small Bosham to Itchenor foot ferry.
Length: 4 miles
Terrain: Muddy, off-road terrain. Some difficult ascents.
Climb to the highest point in the South Downs National Park on this challenging route in Sussex. You’ll follow cycle paths nestled amongst flower-rich meadows, ancient woodland and copses at the National Trust’s Black Down. Enjoy fabulous views over the Weald from the Temple of the Winds, or admire the English Channel through the River Arun gap on a clear day.
This circular route starts at the car park near the Temple of the Winds and takes you north across Black Down to Boarden Door Bottom. There are also a number of more challenging mountain bike trails if this doesn’t test you enough!
Length: 12 miles
Terrain: Flat tarmac
A stop off along Salterns Way - Karen Bornhoft
If you’re a beach and bike lover, then this could be the route for you. Running from Chichester City Centre to the golden sands of West Wittering, the 12-mile Salterns Way cycle route offers all you need on a sunny day. With Chichester having been named the sunniest place in the UK (Anchor Pumps league tables), you can’t ask for much more.
For much of its route, Salterns Way runs along safe and car-free paths, making it the ideal place for families or couples to cycle together. Other parts of the route follow quiet scenic lanes with little traffic.
While the route is extremely flat, meaning it may not qualify as ‘training’, it’s a great option for those taking it steady.
Length: 8 miles
Terrain: Flat, mostly tarmac
A view from Church Norton of RSPB Pagham, Near Selsey by Jon Nicholson
One of the more specialised cycle routes in West Sussex, Route 88 – also known as Bill Way – gets up close and personal to rare wildlife.
This signposted route can be started at either the Market Cross in Chichester City Centre or Chichester Canal Basin. You’ll cycle down secluded lanes and tracks, mostly off-road, all the way to the Visitor Centre at RSPB Pagham Harbour. This nature reserve and sheltered inlet is an internationally important wetland site for wildlife, home to black-tailed godwits, pintails and little egrets to name just a few.
From here, jump on your bike and join a new cycle path that links RSPB Pagham Harbour to RSPB Medmerry reserve, another fascinating reserve home to unusual bird and wildlife. You can cycle all the way round RSPB Medmerry, stopping to admire the beautiful views and birdlife along the way.
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