Much of the cycling to date has been in relativity flat surroundings, and rather rashly I thought it was time today to set myself the challenge: to make it to the top of Ditchling Beacon – the 3rd highest point along the South Downs – and make it back in one piece. I did not choose the most direct route to take, as I am still sticking to minor roads wherever possible, and in all I would cover around 37 miles.
Ditchling Beacon is often the sting in the tale of many organised events from London to Brighton – be it classic cars or cycle races / ‘fun’ rides – for me it would be about half way along the circular route.
I made it to the village of Ditchling in good time, and in good weather. The route to the top of Ditchling Beacon leaves the village to the south, and when the climb starts it is less than a mile to the top – what makes it such a challenge is the particularly steep northern face which rises 213 metres from bottom to top. It did not matter how many times I stopped, I just had to make it to the top – as an incentive I promised myself lunch at the top and an ice cream (if the van was there).
I am not sure I could have walked it without stopping. Cycling it I stopped 6 times – and had quite a social time too, with other riders overtaking me and then flashing a wry smile as they passed me again going back down. Lunch was devoured, along with an ice cream, and I head back down toward Ditchling – I then realised that the journey up really was just the half of it, the speeds I reached on the way down were quite hair-raising and for me not that enjoyable.
I headed back via Burgess Hill, where I stopped for a cup of tea and a piece of cake – kentish apple cake. Note to self: this cake must be further tracked down – it was delicious.View the map in Google Maps, or here is the Google Earth KML file.