Around a quarter of the park is covered in trees, making this the most thickly wooded national park in Britain.
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Cycling the South Down Way makes that seaside reveal happen even more quickly. In fact, cycling is one of the most popular pulls of the South Downs, as it is so close to and accessible from London. Families and cycling enthusiasts can escape the city easily by train and get some much needed oxygen hits as they career along the chalky paths or saunter through ancient woodland, stopping to paddle and picnic by crystal clear rivers. Take a train straight to one of the seaside spots along the South Downs, such as Brighton or Seaford and cycle a coastal section of the South Downs , racing the oystercatchers, fulmars and widgeons that wheel overhead.
This is part of the National Cycle Network and so much of it is on road, although there are sections such as between Saltdean and Cuckmere that are off road. This is Route 2 of the National Network and will take you between Brighton and Eastbourne within the South Downs boundaries and on up to Camber beyond that. A good strenuous challenge, it takes you along the final miles of the South Downs Way, from the height of Firle Beacon and down towards Eastbourne before another climb up to Beachy Head and descent into the Cuckmere Valley.
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Even better, this circular route starts and finishes at Newhaven railway station, so no cars required here. Always stick to bridleways footpaths are for walkers only when you are cycling, remember to give priority to walkers, wheelchair users and people on horseback, but when the coast is clear, you can zap on to the real coast in no time.
However, it isn't downhill all the way and it is considered a serious mountain bike challenge to take on all of the South Downs Way. If you want to make the task a little easier, you can hire an electric bike , which still makes you work the hills a little, but definitely gives more power to the thigh muscles. Or the more adventurous can go full on mountain biking, with a plethora of dedicated trails at Deers Leep Park, and plenty of training opportunities here too. What isn't a challenge, however, is getting there by train. First step is to download a cycling guide from the National Trails website and decide on your route.
This route is a real test of stamina but ultimately very rewarding. The vast majority of this loop onto the South Downs is off-road, with only very occasional stretches of tarmac along the way. From here, look out for signs for the Monarch's Way, which will take you through Houghton Forest, into the handsome town of Arundel and out onto the banks of the River Arun.follow
Trail Centre South Downs
The pub at Offham theblackrabbitarundel. This is a short but glorious little loop, which starts from a National Trust car park. This will be your final sting in the tail before a swift descent to finish the loop. From Eype, you could extend the Tour east by a little over a mile around 2 kilometers to take in the famous sandy beaches of West Bay, just south of Bridport.
This is a long, languid and surprisingly lumpy Tour, given that Kent has such a reputation for being flat! It mixes quiet country roads, muddy bridle paths and some great technical forest riding.
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If you are looking for a shorter ride, you could also jump on the train at the station in Wye. As you leave the hustle and bustle of Faversham behind, the landscape becomes increasingly dotted with Kent's famous oast houses.
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