Cycling in Sussex

Cycling in Sussex

Bike rides in Sussex can be on or off-road, by the coast or around the villages, and of course amongst the lovely South Downs. Wherever you ride, cycling in Sussex can give you great views and lovely routes.

In the page below you will find sections on:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Circular cycle tours
  • Guide books and maps for cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
  • Cycling maps and guide books

There are also very good guide books and maps to help you plan your routes and find your way.

Sussex cycle maps and guide books

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in Sussex

There are many excellent places to stay in Sussex for cyclists (see below) and these are just some areas that might suit:

  • Eastbourne, with access to the Cuckoo Trail and the South Downs Way
  • Lewes, again close to the South Downs Way, but also with routes north of the South Downs and down to the sea at Brighton
  • Steyning, just north of Shoreham-by-Sea, on the South Downs Way and also the Downs Link (mostly off-road) cycle route all the way to Guildford
Sussex beach at sunset - photo by Gaby Hill on Pixabay 2

Gentle / family bike rides in Sussex

Lewes Village and the River Ouse

This is a 9.5 mile easy cycle ride close to the town of Lewes on quiet lanes or bridleways.

OR the same guide book (below) has a very short and almost off-road 2.5 mile route: “short, safe and fun”!

Guide book: Cycling in Sussex – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes

The Cuckoo Trail

Sussex’s Cuckoo Trail runs from Polegate just outside Eastbourne (with an extension into Eastbourne itself) all the way to Heathfield.

It’s 13.5 miles of pleasurable cycling, off-road and mostly hard-surfaced. The first section from Polegate northwards is quite flat, with a gentle climb from Hailsham to Heathfield.

Guide book: Cycling Days Out – South East England

The Centurion Way – Chichester to West Dean

5.5 miles of quite easy cycling, suitable for a family (with just a few short hills to cope with).

Lovely countryside and plenty to keep a family interested.

Guide book: Cycling Days Out – South East England

Barns Green circuit

Close to Horsham and Southwater, this is a 3-mile circuit ideal for families. Easy cycling with a play area along the way.

Guide book: Cycling in Sussex – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes

Circular cycle tours in Sussex

Sussex coastline - from Pixabay

There are a whole heap of great cycle tours you can do in Sussex, and excellent guide books and maps to help you choose. Here are just some of those routes:

Brighton and the South Downs

From Brighton Sea Front to Hove, then up and over the South Downs. Return route via the viewpoint at Ditchling Beacon down to the coast at Rottingdean, and back along to Brighton.

28 miles, challenging in places, but very rewarding!

Map: Sussex and South Surrey – Cycling Country Lanes and Byways, from Goldeneye Maps (including 27 cycle routes marked on a weatherproof map, ranging from 10 to 45 miles long).

Chichester and the South Downs
Chichester - photo by Ron Porter on Pixababy

30 miles, mostly on quiet lanes, with ups and downs, past fields and woodland to West Dean and back to Chichester.

The maps in the guide book below are OS maps, very detailed, with good descriptions.

Guide book: Surrey and West Sussex Cycle Tours (including 15 on-road and 5 off-road cycle tours)

Planning your own circular rides in Sussex
East Sussex bridleway

To plan your own rides in Sussex, the best maps are probably the Sustrans pocket-sized range. ‘Central Sussex and South Surrey‘ covers the bulk of West and East Sussex, while the Hampshire and the Kent Sustrans maps cover the western and eastern sides.

The ‘Central Sussex and South Surrey’ map clearly shows, for example, The Downs Link from Steyning north to Guildford plus links to Shoreham-by-Sea and along the coast to Worthing, Hove and Brighton. It also shows recommended roads for cycling the North Downs.

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Sussex

London to Brighton

This is the iconic London to Brighton cycle route as mapped by Sustrans using the National Cycle Network.

68 miles from a start point at Greenwich, via Redhill and Crawley using quieter roads and off-road cycleways. Finishes on the sea front at Brighton, where it meets the South Coast East

Map: London to Brighton from Sustrans

The South Coast East

From Brockenhurst in Hampshire, the South Coast East continues on from the South Coast West, through Southampton and Portsmouth to Chichester. From there it joins the coast at Bognor Regis, then takes in the sea fronts at Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton. It continues either on the coast or near it to Seaford, Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings, with Dover its final destination.

Map: South Coast East from Sustrans

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in Sussex

South Downs by Jonathan Hall from Pixabay 2

The South Downs Way is cycling-permitted for its entire 100 mile length from Winchester to Eastbourne.

You will need a mountain bike rather than a road bike of course, and be comfortable with some hills.

Given those, the scenery is majestic.

Link to National Trails South Downs Way web page.

Shorter rides, some of them not so steep, are also available!

Guide book: Mountain Biking on the South Downs

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in Sussex

Brighton Pier by Sally Wynn from Pixabay 2

This section is still to be completed.

The maps and guide books for cycling in Sussex

West and East Sussex are very well served by cycle maps and guide books.

Here is a quick preview of some of them:

They are available from Bike Ride Maps shop here:

Photo attributions:

  • ‘Sussex’ photo by Sam Knight, from Unsplash
  • ‘Sussex beach at sunset’ – photo by Gaby Hill on Pixabay
  • ‘Sussex coastline’ – from Pixabay
  • ‘Chichester’ – photo by Ron Porter on Pixababy
  • ‘East Sussex bridleway’ – photo from Pixabay Lin52
  • ‘South Downs’ – photo by Jonathan Hall from Pixabay
  • Brighton Pier’ – photo by Sally Wynn from Pixabay

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Cycling in Sussex