Both West Sussex and East Sussex can be suitable for relaxed holiday cycling for a weekend or mini break, also suitable for families with children. Good cycling infrastructure in Sussex is very isolated though and even cycling on country lanes can be challenging, as many are wide enough to allow speeding. Finding routes via singe-track lanes can be challenging in many areas. Also, the hills of the Low Weald can be surprisingly challenging when making your way by bike.
By far the best cycle route in Sussex is the Downs Link between Guildford in Surrey and Shoreham by Sea. This is a long-distance cycle path on a former railway, providing mostly traffic-free and with reasonably flat cycling. With help of some country-lane cycling, it also links to Horsham. Most of the path is well-graded, but there are also some rough surface sections. The great benefit of the route is that it provides a flat cut through the South Downs via a narrow valley; one of the very few options to reach the South Coast from inland without serious climbing. Known as National Cycle Network Route 22, the route is well described via the Cycling from Guildford website.
From Shoreham By Sea it is possible to cycle the south coast reasonably traffic-calmed on the edge of the urban zone of Brighton and Hove. Many sections of the seafront have an off-road cycle facility and you'll find yourself cruising along here among many cycling-minded locals. There are some short tricky sections to navigate though. Keep heading east to the Brighton Marina, because this is where an amazing path starts down at the base of the famous white cliffs. From here it is just you, the sound of the crashing waves and the impressive silence of the towering white cliffs right next to you, a fabulous cycling experience. It lasts for 4 miles (7 km) or so, then it is time either to head back the same way or to carry the bike up some gruesome steps up the cliffs towards Newhaven.
Further good coastal cycling in Sussex is very limited. There are some fine short sections between Hastings and Winchelsea and between Bexhill and Pevensey. Of course it is great to take in Beachy Head near Eastbourne, but ensure to head out early to be ahead of the motorised cavalry of holiday makers. Cycling can also be fine around Bognor Regis, but you have to know your way around as otherwise you can be up for some challenging cycling conditions. Avoid the Worthing area by all means, as the coast is here completely claimed by the rich and their private estates. Also, do not be fooled by the famous South Downs Way. This route is really something for mountain bikes only and not suitable for hybrid bike and/or family "cruising".
If you are interested in traffic-calmed long-distance cycling on England's South Coast, please note that National Cycle Network Route 2 is far from completed. This route, supposed to connect Dover with Cornwall, has various missing sections. You'll end up cycling on busy main roads for considerable distances and also have to plan and research your way to make up for the missing gaps.
If you are after a continuous east-west cycle route across southern England, consider our London-Land's End Cycle Route Book (costs £ 15.99 plus postage), which also features a route from Dover to London, thus providing the Dover-Cornwall connection. It comes in a handy spiral-bound format and GPS-tracks are free when ordered via our own websites.
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