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The South Downs make for a fun place to ride at the best of times; but combine a good few kilometres of the lengthy South Downs Way, with some undulating man-made singletrack in the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, and add a few decent stretches of top-notch bridleway to link the whole thing together, and you’ve got an excellent medium-grade outing that feels quite tough for just 27km.
Singletrack’s at a bit of a premium in this part of the world, so any opportunity to start at the QE Park should be grabbed with both gloves. Beware, though, it’s not Coed y Brenin, but it still gets you working hard, and there are still a couple of sections that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s then onto Britain’s longest continuous bridleway — the South Downs Way — with a few short sharp climbs, and a couple of corresponding hairy descents that quickly eat up the kilometres eastwards.
The drop from the edge of Harting Down makes a pleasant, winding, tree-lined surprise — more North Downs than South, this section. But then it’s back to broad tracks for the clamber up onto Telegraph Hill — at least the surface is good. A steep descent lands you into West Marden village — a prime place to stop for lunch — and then an equally steep climb away from the village straddles another lofty down before another wooded plunge into Chalton.
The final bridleway section is a peach: narrow, with a couple of great roller coasters to break it up, and then it’s back to the Visitor Centre to enjoy some hard-earned tea and cake.