Stats: 17 miles / 1620Ft
This loop offers up a variety of options for a cheeky refreshment or two. There’s the cliff top café at Birling Gap, through to the 400yr old year Eight Bells in Jevington.
It’s not often you can ride cliff top with glaringly wide sea views as a starter before treating yourself to winding forest singletrack to wrap up this fine loop.
1. The best place to start this ride is at one of the Friston Forest carparks which are well marked with ample space. Although keep an eye out for the many lay-bys (off-road) on the meandering road approaching Friston Forest from Litlington as there could be the chance to park for free on these
2. Start with a warm up on the road by picking up the A259 and heading east along it towards the village of Friston
3. At the top of the hill as you enter the village take care to take the gravel road right down the side of the church which is on the opposite side of the road to you. You are now on your first bridleway as you leave the busy road. About 250m down this lane you’ll turn left through a gate into a field to pick up your next bridleway that takes you diagonally across the field and through another gate to descend down Hobb’s Eares, once you’ve rolled smoothly and fast down this grassy embankment you’ll now be in East Dean. Come out onto the residential road and bare right up a sharp quiet road and keep an eye out for the next bridleway coming up on your right.
4. Through the gate and ensure you get into a nice rhythm early as you take on this narrow, natural climb up through the trees before the rewarding descent to Birling Gap
5. Once on top and heading straight for the sea, this is the perfect time to take in the sea air and big views before the fun smooth descent to the café which perches perilously close to the edge of the famous white cliffs of the South Downs
6. Take in the impressive white cliffs from the viewing platform and treat yourself to piece of cake and a coffee at the coffee before the slow and gradual climb from Birling Gap to intersect the South Downs Way high above Eastbourne
7. Head East from Birling Gap on either the Birling Gap road or the parallel grassy bridleway for about half a mile. Then turn left up a gravel road flanked by farm fields
8. Take the steady climb towards Cornish Farm and take the second bridleway on your right
9. Stay on this bridleway for about 1.5 miles up and over “Long Down”
10. Now high above Eastbourne, turn left and pick up the South Downs Way to start the return journey. Through the Golf Course and your reward for the climb is a long fast descent down to Jevington
11. Finally at the bottom jiggle left then instantly right across the road as you pick up the rutty climb on a bridleway that brings you to the top of Friston Forest. Take a breather at the bench and take in the rolling views of where you have just come from
12. Head into Friston on the fire-road, over the first junction, then as you come to a clearing where the fire-road widens and doubles as a passing/turning area for machinery, you’ll see an obvious trail dart into the trees on the right. This is the start of a fine piece of singletrack trail in Friston. This one takes you pretty much all the way down back to the car parks. It’s an old-skool natural trail with plenty of flow, roots, twists and turns to keep you occupied. This goes on for a fair while and once deep in the forest, don’t be scared to explore the trails and bridleways you may come across. With your OS at hand it’s not too difficult to find your way back to the car as the majority all heads in that general direction