This was a bit of a random discovery - following a weekend cycling on the Isle of White, we used Komoot to plan a route around the South Downs on the way home. You can view the details and download the GPX file here. We'll do a dedicated review of Komoot for you, but rest assured if this was the test bed then it's past with flying colours!
Who should do this ride?
Anyone who lives in the South of England and is looking for a change of scenery, with a few challenging segments, some great tourist stops and 3 fantastic food options. It's particularly good for anyone living in Central or South West London, as it's an easy 1 hour direct train ride from Waterloo.
I've tweaked the route to start from Petersfield train station, starting with the Clositers cafe just a few hundred metres away for breakfast. This means you could jump on a train and start following the route straight away without needing to worry about quality food or coffee! Once you've topped up and made your way out of the town, you'll find yourself straight into the climb of the day - think of it as a Box Hill x2... Slow and steady, about 3km long, maxing at 9% and shaded. It will certainly get the legs warm and the heart pumping. From there it's an easy down hill, and then the undulating hills & country back roads will take care of you for the day. Key points of interest (included as arrival points) on the route:
- Cloisters Cafe: Inside and outside seating, bathroom, great breakfast / cake options and friendly staff. It's also right by the church and the local market, so plenty to have a nose around whilst you wait for coffee.
- Jane Austen's House: A key stop off on the list, you can have a little walk around outside, or step into the house which is now a museum. If you fancy a coffee here, take a short ride up the opposite road to Chawton House, which is a beautiful mansion owned by Jane's brother, with a hidden cafe courtyard around the back (see photos).
- Tree House Coffee Stop: Off the beaten track with lovely sun traps, particularly good if the weather is with you and you want to sit outside.
- Avington Park: This is undoubtedly a beautiful place to stop. The cafe isn't always open, so if you're planning to do this route give them a call in advance and check - it will be well worth it! They also have highland cows out the back by the river, great outside space and incredible afternoon tea options!
- Bishop on the Bridge Pub: Having hit Winchester you're about to hit the home straight, so save yourself a hunt around town and go for lunch here. You can walk down the side (along the river) to get to the garden, they do huge roast dinners, have big clean bathrooms, loads of seating inside and out, and are super friendly to cyclists.
- Cheesefoot TT Blast: No link for this as it's just a long old bit of road, but its mostly slightly down hill with undulated hills. So go bananas!
The climb out of Winchester will put the pub lunch to work, and you'll be rewarded with amazing views of Chilcomb Down (the big bowl on the left) and the sprawling downs as you take an easy descent into the Cheesfoot TT. I have no idea where the name comes from, but I do know this thing is fast. It's a reasonably busy road but you'll be hitting +60 kmph with gentle rolling hills and a tailwind, so give it beans, get some PBs and see how quickly you gobble up the final miles.
The photos speak for themselves, I'll certainly be doing this again during the autumn months and hope you do too!