Katherine Moore

The hill seeker's chalky white dream — South Downs 300

M W Pinsent (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The hill seeker's chalky white dream — South Downs 300

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

6

Tours

27:13 h

189 mi

17,000 ft

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

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    04:46
    32.1 mi
    6.7 mph
    3,075 ft
    3,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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 …

  • Intermediate
    04:15
    28.3 mi
    6.7 mph
    2,925 ft
    2,875 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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 …

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  • Difficult
    04:55
    34.8 mi
    7.1 mph
    2,950 ft
    2,900 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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 …

  • Intermediate
    02:55
    22.8 mi
    7.8 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,650 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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, …

  • Difficult
    06:19
    42.8 mi
    6.8 mph
    4,000 ft
    4,175 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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 …

  • Intermediate
    04:03
    28.3 mi
    7.0 mph
    2,350 ft
    2,350 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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 …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    189 mi
  • Duration
    27:13 h
  • Elevation
    17,000 ft

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The hill seeker's chalky white dream — South Downs 300