You may already be familiar with the South Downs Way, but this is something a little different. Pulled together by local rider and bikepacker Jim Barrow, this 190 mile (306 km) route is also named ‘Southern Discomfort 300’ as a nod to its many hills. The South Downs offers a long stretch of wild and hilly terrain perfect for bikepackers, quite unlike much of the rest of the South East of England.
Blending the well-known and established South Downs Way with local knowledge, hidden singletrack and little-known bridleway detours, this challenge is a great way to get to know the South Downs National Park more intimately. Brilliant access options from a network of railways as well as frequent towns and villages make this a great option for beginner bikepackers. However, don’t be fooled by the seemingly short daily distances as we’ve proposed in the six stages here, they certainly pack a punch!
Take a few stages at a time or tackle the whole lot, the choice is yours. If you’re really keen, you can ride the route as an Individual Time Trial (ITT) and see if you can beat the 27 hour and 33 minute record - yikes!
There are some steep climbs on the Downs, so the kind of low gearing that you get on a mountain bike would be ideal. You can certainly try it on a gravel bike, but you might find yourself pushing a bit more!
In terms of overnight stays, most of the stages begin and end in little towns or villages where you’ll find quaint guesthouses or hotels, as well as local camping grounds. There are plenty of places along the route to refuel, from cafes to shops and pubs.
You’ll probably enjoy the South Downs 300 more in the drier summer months, as the chalky surface of the off-road trails on the Downs can be pretty slippery when wet. Do be aware that this is a very popular area with walkers too and remember to be courteous and aware of other trail users, including dogs!
The route starts and finishes at Broadwater Green, on the edge of Worthing. This is perfect for train travel, as it’s only 1 mile (1.6 km) from Worthing Train Station along South Farm Road. When you book your train tickets, make sure you check the bike restrictions; you may need to avoid peak times or book your bike on too.
Check out more about Jim’s route here: bikepackinguk.com/sd300
Our official South Downs Way collection can be found here: komoot.com/collection/888595/a-southern-off-road-utopia-the-south-downs-way
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: November 17, 2021
Make your way to Broadwater Green to start your six-stage ride on the South Downs 300 with a 32.1 mile (51.7 km) leg heading east to Newhaven.
It’s a lumpy first day, starting as you mean to go on, with no less than 3,083 feet (940 metres) of climbing. Head inland to start, climbing up toward the ancient…
The second stage, totalling just 28.7 miles (46.2 km), is the shortest of all, heading to the eastern extremity to see the The Long Man of Wilmington, before circling back west to finish in the town of Lewes, the county town of East Sussex.
Despite the relatively short distance, there are still four big…
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You’ll benefit from a flatter section in the middle of this stage totalling 35.2 miles (56.6 km), bookended by climbing up the Downs at either end. It runs largely parallel to the coastline, heading back to the west to finish in the village of Storrington.
A long and steady climb will ease you into the…
The shortest stage of 22.7 miles (36.6 km) is rather mellow, with considerably less climbing than previous stages, mainly toward the end of the day. You’ll continue to ride west, this time to the tiny village of Singleton.
Starting with some gentle and almost flat riding the north of the South Downs ridge…
The penultimate stage of the South Downs 300 is the longest by distance at 42.8 miles (68.9 km), and you’ll rarely be on the flat on this one. From Singleton to the castle-topped town or Arundel, it’s a big day covering the most westerly leg of the SD300.
To start, head west as you wave Singleton goodbye…
This is it, the sixth and final stage of the South Downs 300! There’s 28.3 miles (45.6 km) standing between you and an ice-cold refreshment in Worthing, so what are you waiting for?!
From Arundel back to Worthing, you’ll be heading south-east, but it’s not all that simple, as today’s ride is more horseshoe…
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