Summer’s here! It might have taken a while to warm up, but thanks to a lack of any persistent periods of rain the trails of the South Downs are riding perfectly right now.
This particular loop takes in some of the best trails to the south west of Steyning, and should take between 2 and 4 hours.
We started the ride at the car park below Cissbury Ring, but there are a few other places to start from near Washington and Steyning depending on where you’re staying.
From the Cissbury car park we went through the gate towards the hill, and through another on the right hand side before climbing on the singletrack around the west of Cissbury (known locally as the sheep track).
Looping around the back of the ring and coming almost full circle, we drop in to a fast, flowing descent that ends too soon – I wish this one was a bit longer as it’s great fun. Through the gate at the bottom and across the field, climb up through the farm and across the road towards the South Downs Way. We’re not on the South Downs Way for long though – turn left at the memorial onto the Monarch’s Way, following it all the way down, up, and down again towards Findon. This whole section is one long piece of singletrack, which looks dead straight on a map but has just enough twists and turns on the ground to keep it interesting.
A steady climb on wide bridleways gets us back up from Findon to the South Downs Way again, which we cross straight over and into our next descent.
Into the trees we go down the Wiston Bostal track – another fast one, there are two main lines down here – a lower ‘gulley’ line and a higher, smoother line to the right. Mixing it up between the two lines, and looking for ways to get across from one to the other means that this one is always interesting, and never the same twice. It does get slippery following rain however, as it’s mostly chalk, and if the weather is nice then keep an eye out for walkers.
From the bottom, turn on to the bridleway that heads west along the bottom of Chanctonbury Ring. Again if there’s been any rain lately then it does get quite muddy along here as it’s mostly in the shade, but there are dry routes just to the side of the main track that can be used. We emerge from the trees and are greeted by a glorious sunset, which means there is just enough time to finish our ride before it gets dark.
Join the South Downs Way again and cross over the A24, before turning left on the bridleway towards Windlesham. Another climb takes us up through the school and along the edge of the fields at the top, before squeezing through the undergrowth down to Long Furlong. Up the track directly opposite and left at the top we head into the final descent, turning right through the farm at the bottom.
Across the A24 again, and with Cissbury in sight once again, we climb up behind the houses and along the edge of some fields. By now the sun is ready to drop behind the horizon, and with perfect timing we arrive back at the car park and the end of our ride.