Sussex travel crisis: How to beat petrol prices, train strikes, and air cancellations - explore the county by bike

With petrol prices soaring, 4,000 Gatwick flights cancelled, and now a train strike, you’ll get further and faster on your own steam. In this special report, Lawrence Abel and Louise Adlam fromThe Great Sussex Way help you make the most of your bike in Sussex.

At Sky Park Farm you’ll be able to meet Bambi up close. As a deer farm, they may seem an unexpected biker’s paradise, but their Grazing Rooms and Farm Shop offer a welcome break with bike racks, a bike fixing station in the Stable Courtyard, as well as a much-needed comfortable seat to enjoy delicious food and drinks.

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Whilst there you’ll be able to stroll through the ‘races’ – fenced paths linking our fields – where you can get close to herds of deer with a backdrop of lush farmland stretching down to the banks of the River Rother.

Explore Sussex by bike. Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

If cycling isn’t for you walkers can make the most of a public footpath, following the Serpent’s Trail, which meanders its way from the eastern edge of Petersfield to Sky Park Farm. The path crosses wildflower meadows, pasture and streams along the way, reaching West Harting after a brisk 40-minute walk.

Sussex Wines are truly world-class and Chichester boasts some of the best English Sparkling Wine money can buy. Why not indulge in the experience and take a cycling tour – think Napa Valley minus the airports and Americans.

Starting at Tinwood Estate, you can try their three delicious wines and meander through their immaculate vines. When you’re ready for more hop on your bike and set off on the relatively short and flat ride to Ashling Park Estate.

Chichester Marina. Picture by Kate Shemilt.

The route skirts around Goodwood before passing through the quintessentially English village of Lavant onto West Stoke which enjoys stunning views of Stoke Clump and Kingley Vale and you’re on the final stretch to your next glass of bubbly.

Once at Ashling Park you can do the same again with a tour and tasting of their multi-award winning wines. Or perhaps you’ll have an appetite for lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner, which can be enjoyed from their raised restaurant that overlooks the lines of vines below.

Alternatively, their gin school offers a unique and fun activity where you can make your very own tipple to take home.

The wine tour is best enjoyed leisurely so we advise calling Southern eBike Rentals who can drop off and pick up your ebike at either end so life couldn’t be easier.

It is sometimes more about the journey than the destination…

Sussex is peppered with idyllic country pubs, expansive views and, as the sunniest county in the UK, lots of places to enjoy ice cream. So here are some of our favourite cycle routes where all this and more can be found:

The South Downs Way

Perhaps the most iconic cycle route in the UK, the South Downs Way traverses the entire National Park, offering some of the best views Sussex has to offer. The route takes you through many 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 but we’d suggest sampling 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.

There are good access points 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.

Best of all, Sussex is also well known for its welcoming country pubs – so if the terrain gets the best of you you’ll never be far from a hearty meal and much need refreshment.

Chichester Harbour Circular Cycle Route

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 coastal habitats, all of which can be admired en route.

The 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.

We recommend visiting Bosham Walk to taste test the ice cream.

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.

Salterns Way

If you’re a beach and bike lover, then this could be the route for you. Running from Chichester City Centre to the white 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.

Midhurst East off-road cycle route

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.

After a calm exploration of the historic market town, go forth and explore, 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 follows for a time the River Rother.

The route begins and ends in the centre of Midhurst, close to an assortment of independent cafes for post-ride refreshments so you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.

This route is suitable for competent cyclists on mountain and hybrid bikes with off-road tyres only.

Route 88 – The Bill Way

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 even more wildlife. You can cycle all the way around RSPB Medmerry, stopping to admire the beautiful views and of course the birds.

For more cycle routes and downloadable maps visit The Great Sussex Way

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