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From London to the sea – a great adventure on the Downs and Weald Way

Lazyllama (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From London to the sea – a great adventure on the Downs and Weald Way

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

3-5

days

3-5 h

/ day

152 mi

6,950 ft

7,025 ft

Riding along lanes as they wind through valleys and wooded farmland, feeling salty breeze on your cheeks as you cycle towards dizzying white cliffs and along beach promenades – that is what adventures are made of. The Downs and Weald Way transports you from the grind of daily life, taking you on a great journey from London to the English Channel.

This Collection guides you along the 157-mile (253 km) Downs and Weald Way from Central London to Hastings in seven stages. Ranging in length from 11 miles (18 km) to 34 miles (56 km), each stage unveils beautiful landscapes as they take you through the counties of Surrey and Sussex.

Whether you ride as a family with the kids in tow or prefer whizzing along lanes at full-throttle, you will enjoy the Downs and Weald Way. With 6,988 feet (2,130 meters) of elevation gain spread across the stages, the hills are manageable for any level of rider.

You can fully relax into your adventure far away from any cars as over half of the route follows traffic-free paths. Peaceful nature awaits as you ride along the Worth Way, Forest Way, and the Cuckoo Trail. However, this does mean that it’s wise to leave your slick road tyres at home. The paths become muddy after rain, which, let’s face it, means they are nearly always muddy.

The Downs and Weald Way takes you through centuries of history and changing landscapes – from the lofty heights of Beachy Head, across chalk downlands and through the ancient Ashdown Forest where A.A. Milne coined the Winnie the Pooh stories. You ride in the footsteps of Neolithic ancestors, visiting Tudor manor houses, ruined Medieval castles and Victorian seaside resorts along the way.

You can use this Collection to plan your next week-long cycle tour or inspire weekend escapes. Each stage can be conveniently combined or shortened to tailor your adventure to your own pace as they end in a town or village, often with a train station.

Along the way, you visit some of Surrey and Sussex’ finest towns – enjoy the splendid Victorian streets of Royal Tunbridge Wells, marvel at black and white timber-framed manors in Mayfield and Five Ashes, or take the East Hill Cliff Railway up Hasting’s steep cliff face. If you get hungry, you will also find no-end of cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops to stop for a treat.

No matter where you are travelling from, you can easily reach the start of your adventure in London. The city has direct train connections across the UK. If you already live in the capital, even better – there’s an epic adventure to be had right on your doorstep!

For more information about the Downs and Weald Way, visit: sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/downs-and-weald

On The Map

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Downs and Weald Way

121 mi

4,650 ft

4,700 ft

Last updated: December 21, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: London to Warlingham – Downs and Weald Way

    Intermediate
    02:48
    25.7 mi
    9.1 mph
    1,225 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From the iconic sites of the London skyline to rolling hills blanketed with colourful meadows – stage one is a truly varied ride from Central London to Warlingham. Today you will ride 25 miles (41 km) through the capital’s suburbs and into the countryside.

    

    You will follow the River Thames as it snakes

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    03:56
    35.3 mi
    9.0 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From ruined medieval castles to ancient forests blanketed in bluebells – stage two reveals the very best of Surrey’s nature and history. Today you will clock up 35 miles (56.7 km) from Warlingham to East Grinstead. Stage two follows cycle paths and bridleways for over 50% of the way so you can enjoy

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    01:45
    15.8 mi
    9.0 mph
    975 ft
    1,200 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage three of your adventure covers 18 miles (30 km) from East Grinstead to Hartfield, taking you further into rural Surrey where you will discover interesting historical sites along the way.

    

    Your day begins with a small detour from the official Downs and Weald Way to visit the historical estate of Standon

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    01:17
    11.3 mi
    8.8 mph
    575 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From million-year-old rock formations to the birthplace of Whinnie the Pooh, stage four is a lovely journey from Hartfield to Royal Tunbridge Wells. Today is a gentle 12.5 mile (20 km) ride with 492 feet (150 meters) in elevation gain.

    

    Before leaving Hartfield, stop off at Pooh Corner, once frequented

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    02:33
    22.0 mi
    8.6 mph
    1,775 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage five takes you along winding rivers, through historic villages and over gentle hills as you ride 22 miles (35 km) from Royal Tunbridge Wells to Heathfield.

    

    Leaving the pretty Victorian streets of Royal Tunbridge Wells, you will follow the River Grom as it flows through the countryside, past High

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    02:09
    22.0 mi
    10.3 mph
    425 ft
    825 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    On stage six of the Downs and Weald Way, you will ride through patchwork farmland and along secluded wooded trails to the English Channel. Today you can enjoy an easy 23 miles from Heathfield to Eastbourne, with 426 feet (130 meters) in elevation gain and 853 feet (260 meters) of elevation lost.

    

    In Heathfield

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:01
    20.2 mi
    10.0 mph
    525 ft
    425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Sandy beaches, historic military towers and an abundance of ice cream characterise your final day cycling The Downs and Weald Way. Today is a delightful 22 mile (35 km) ride with sea views the whole way.

    

    From Eastbourne, you will join a cycle path around Sovereign Harbor and on to Pevensey Bay. After

    by Amy

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    152 mi
  • Duration
    16:29 h
  • Elevation
    6,950 ft7,025 ft

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