Scenic cycling in southern England

by Sarah.Benton

Get active, be kind to the environment and see some stunning scenery - check out these suggestions for some great routes to explore by bike on the Hampshire/West Sussex borders

There is something very appealing about the British countryside in summer. Village greens are taken over by cricket teams in their whites or fêtes selling cakes and running raffles; people are drinking rosé or cider in pub gardens and walkers are out roaming. All these quintessential British pastimes can be seen from the saddle of your bike. Holidays in the UK save you time and, more importantly, cash, and you can get active and be kind to the environment by choosing to take a cycling holiday in good old Blighty.
There are, of course, many places you can get out the old pushbike and explore on two wheels, but an area that holds a particular appeal for me is the Hampshire-West Sussex borders. The hills are rolling, the pubs are friendly without being full of staring yokels, and the coast is always within reach. So I have pulled out three of my favourite cycle routes and broken them down into easy, moderate and challenging.
Note: The routes below are just a taster of what’s on offer. Please use a map for more detailed information.
Distance: c12 miles
Starting point/accommodation: Horse and Groom, East Ashling
Leave the B&B and head left towards West Ashling, then follow the road south towards Bosham. You’ll reach a small roundabout: go straight across, then turn right at the next junction. The road winds its way down to the coast and the beautiful seaside village of Bosham, where you can call into the Anchor Bleu for a spot of lunch and enjoy gorgeous views over Chichester harbour.
Once your appetite has been sated, hop back on your bike and retrace your steps to the junction, then continue straight onto Walton Way, heading north towards Fishbourne. Here you can visit the Roman Palace and maybe even have afternoon tea at the onsite cafe.
Head along the A259 towards Chichester and cross under the motorway bridge and into the city, following the marked cycle route. Lock your bike up in the city centre and explore the Roman walls, visit the cathedral and its highly recommended tea rooms, or just peruse the many shops and boutiques on foot.
To get back to your B&B, follow West Street out of Chichester and cross over the roundabout and head towards the Centurion Way. This is off road so it’s quiet and safe for youngsters. It leads you back to Lavant; from there you can go straight back to the Horse and Groom or stop at the Earl of March in Lavant, which boasts truly spectacular views over the South Downs and beyond.
Distance: c20 miles
Starting point/accommodation: The Fox Goes Free, Charlton
Turn right out of the inn and take the first left up the hill towards the famous Goodwood Racecourse. At the top, take a minute to breathe and enjoy the stunning views over the Downs, then head left down the long, steep hill and give your thighs a rest. Halfway down, turn right onto Pook Lane towards East Lavant and continue on towards Lavant. At the mini roundabout, go right, through the village, and after a mile or so, bear left towards Petersfield. This route takes you up another hill and at the top you will need to turn left towards East Marden then down to Stoughton. Here you will find the Hare and Hounds, where you can tuck into some traditional British pub grub.
Leave the pub and continue on to the next junction, where you’ll turn left. After a short while, turn left again towards Funtington. Upon reaching the village, turn left and you will see the Fox and Hounds, which is another of my favourite pubs.
Turn right out of the pub, through Funtington village, and continue on for a mile or so, then turn left immediately before a sharp right-hand bend. You will go past Kingly Vale Nature Reserve, a local beauty spot. Stay on this road until you reach Lavant, then turn left onto the A286 until you reach Singleton Village. Here you will find the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, a reconstructed village of historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Cycle through the village and follow signs back to Charlton and a well-earned pint of Fox Ale at The Fox Goes Free.
Distance: c50 miles
Starting point/accommodation: The Hawkley Inn, Hawkley
Be warned that this route is quite hilly, so not for the faint-hearted or weak-legged, but the outstanding views make all the hard work worthwhile.
Leave the pub and head west towards Colemore. If you are the adventurous type who likes a drink, then challenge yourself to find the pub with no name (or pub sign), which is located somewhere in Colemore.
From the hamlet, head towards Privett using the A32 (main road) for a short distance before turning left onto Stocks Lane towards Chidden. You will go over Old Winchester Hill, so be prepared for a hard climb. Don’t worry, though - when you come down the hill you will head to Hambledon where you can stop to rest those tired legs at The Bat and Ball, reputed to be the birthplace of cricket.
From Hambledon, head west along Hambledon Lane towards Soberton, then north to Corhampton via Brockbridge. At Corhamton go left along Corhampton Lane, leading to Stake’s Lane, then right onto Salt Lane heading towards Cheriton. Here you will find The Flower Potts Inn, where you can have a hearty lunch, try some of the local Cheriton Pots Ale and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere in this truly traditional pub.
Turn right out of the pub and then right again onto North End Lane and head towards Ropley along winding country lanes usually frequented by tractors and not much else. Go through the village of Ropley onto Lyeway Lane and head back to Colemore. You can then make your way back to the Hawkley Inn for a well deserved rest.