South Downs Single Centre Long Weekend tour

This Tour is currently being replanned in the light of the Covid situation, however the Tour Leader is reasonably hopeful that it can be structured to allow for (current) Covid-19 restrictions, which means there is a good possibility it will go ahead !    For the moment if you are interested then please complete the Registration form  below.

 

TOUR DATE –  21st to 24th May 2021

WHY THE SOUTH DOWNS NATIONAL PARK ?

  “The South Downs are the UK’s latest National Park. At its core it is a range of chalk hills which stretch from Winchester in the west to Beachy Head and Eastbourne in the east – about 100 miles. To the north the area is called the Weald and has its own character based upon a geography of sands, clays and sandstone ridges with a range of small market towns such as Peterfield, Midhurst, Petworth, Billinghurst forming the gateways for roads crossing the Downs. To the south the chalk hills slope down to the South Coast to cities such as Brighton, and Worthing, and to the west to flat plains with Chichester and Portsmouth and Southampton.”

WHATS ON OFFER AS A SINGLE CENTRE TOUR ?

Using Petersfield in the west of the National Park as a base there are four rides scheduled over the Friday to Monday as a ‘Long Weekend’, so hopefully making it attractive for our still working members…and you’re free to book your own accommodation and to join whichever rides match your availability.

There are many sights on the routes and the expectation is that we will be taking time out on each ride to take a look-see. If you are a ‘head down, bottom up and push on’ rider then this might not be for you

The cycling will be of significant but no undo’able distance and ascent. – 50 to 60 miles a day and 700 to 1,100 metres of climbing –it is recommended that you need to demonstrate that you are regularly doing the Longer Sunday Rides as a suitable level of fitness

HOW WILL IT WORK ?

This will not work the same way as a centrally booked tour where the Tour Leader will book the accommodation and we will operate as fixed large group …. with all the Covid-19 issues that brings. Instead you can book your own accommodation, and for eating out in the evening you will be free to do whatever you want – potentially we could agree to come together as  mini-groups of six to visit restaurants.

The intention is that we do the four Day Rides in a similar manner as we would an ordinary Sunday Ride, with all the same precautions.

Additionally as a Single Centre Tour you can travel to Petersfield by Car (as I will do), or Train.

For the hardcore cycle tourers I have prepared routes to get down to and back from Petersfield over the course of two days each way – however these involve long distances with loaded bikes.

THE ROUTES

The four day rides go North to the Itchen Valley and Alresford & Alton, South over the downs to the Naval Port of Portsmouth, West to the ancient capital of Wessex, Winchester, and east into Sussex and over the Downs to Roman Chichester.

 

Ride 1 – ALRESFORD AND ALTON

This is a day with an unusual option. 

Initially we cycle out to the west through the Meon Valley and up to the Watercress town of New Alresford after 28 miles.

Once we have had a refreshment break in the Old Railway Station buffet in New Alresford there is then a choice to ride to Alton via Medstead the highest village in Hamphire (11 miles)  or for a really unusual experience take the historic Watercress Line Steam Train to Alton (Note that the train tickets are £16). Whichever choice you take we will cycle back to Petersfield  via Jane Austen’s Chawton, and Gilbert White’s Selbourne.  (18 additional miles)

Routes here –

Cycle to New Alresford  – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/185887

Cycle to Alton if not taking the Train – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/185878

Route from Alton to Petersfield – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/185879

 

Ride 2 – PORTSMOUTH

This is a sightseeing overload day !  Heading south we will go all the way up to Butser Hill the highest point on the entire South Downs, move on to Broadhapenny Down, the ‘Home of Cricket’, pedal on to the Royal Armouries Museum (free entry) in Napoleonic era Fort Nelson overlooking the Solent, and then ride down to ancient Portchester Castle.  

From Portchester the route makes its way down to Old Portsmouth, then Southsea Seafront and coming back up the eastern side of the island. The route then travels along the top of Langstone Harbour, through Havant and returns to Petersfield along the old coaching route back across the Downs.

Route here –  https://cycle.travel/map/journey/170515

Note – although Portsmouth will be busy on a Weekend day the majority of the route is on separated bike lanes so this should not be an issue.  There is a lot to stop and see so likely to be a long day.

Ride 3 – WINCHESTER

This day takes us west along the Downs to King Alfred’s Winchester capital of Wessex, with a chance to see the magnificent Winchester Cathedral,  then travels back along the water meadows of the Itchen Valley, and on to New Arlesford for a break.  From the stop the Long route extends up to Medstead the highest village in Hampshire and back via the ‘Pub with No Name’ giving a ride of 53 miles with 1100m of climbing. The Shorter Route takes a more direct route back via the ‘Pub with No Name’ giving a ride of 46 miles and 900m of ascent.

  Winchester Route – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/185885

Ride 4 – WEST SUSSEX

This day is a bit of a geographical and scenic contrast as we ride east into the Sussex Weald to Midhurst, through the Polo Grounds of the Cowdray Estate, and then south to Cocking (no, it actually is called that !).

From there for people wanting to get away early to travel home there is a short self-guided route (total 33 miles) that diverts away from the longer route and Cocking and heads along the base of the Downs pretty directly back to Petersfield

The longer main route (total 52 miles) heads further south to Chichester, and then weaves along country lanes back to Petersfield.

West Sussex Long route – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/171151

West Sussex Short Route – https://cycle.travel/map/journey/99175

 

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

These are some of the reasonably obvious accommodation options – I make NO recommendations

Hotels

Premier Inn – a half mile walk from the centre – should have a lot of standard accommodation at a reasonable price. (Note – Premier Inns also acted very responsibly at the start of lockdown and refunded non-refundable bookings , in contrast to some of their competitors!)

This is a copy of Premier Inns Bike Policy – We’re proud to say that every one of our hotels are bike friendly. Whether you want to keep your bike in your room or have it stored away safely, the choice is yours. We welcome clean bikes with dirt-free tyres but if your bike needs a little wipe down, ask at reception about local facilities to help you out. All we ask is you walk your bike around the hotel, lean it gently on the wall of your room and don’t over crowd your room with lots of bikes.

 Langrish House – a premium country house hotel some 3 miles from the town

 

Pubs

The Drum – a pub in the town centre with what appears to be a few high quality rooms

The Good Intent – a pub on the edge of the town centre

The Half Moon – a pub about a mile from the town centre

 B&B

80 Rushes Road – a private house near the station

 

EVENING MEALS

These are the eating places that look as if they could seat several small (6 people) mini-groups.

Spice Lounge – Indian Food with okay reviews

Red Lion – a good incarnation of a Wetherspoons pub with reasonable reports on food quality

Fez – Mediterranean food with good reviews and has a function room that can accommodate up to 15 people

Lemon Grass – Thai Food

 

Contact Alan Jelley for additional details

This tour is not yet open for booking – but you can register an interest using the form below.