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On Two Wheels

On Two Wheels

Get the wind in your hair, conquer the challenging slopes, enjoy the exhilarating descents and drink in the breathtaking landscapes as you cycle the South Downs Way from hill to hill southwest of Petersfield.

You don’t have to do this section of the South Downs Way all at once. There are several nearby places you can visit, including the Queen Elizabeth Country Park where you can test the mountain bike trails for the beginner or keen cyclist and pop into the visitor centre, café and shop.

Take a slight detour to the summit of Butser Hill, the highest point along the chalk ridge of the South Downs Way and admire the stunning panoramic views.

Another short detour brings you to the South Downs Sustainability Centre, spread across 55 acres of woodland and natural chalk downland, complete with an organic, fair trade, vegetarian and vegan café.

More stunning views await at Old Winchester Hill, a popular beauty spot since Victorian times where you may spot a red kite or buzzard flying overhead. Take a moment to drink in the views across to Beacon Hill over an Iron Age hill fort and down to the sea.

From Old Winchester Hill, the South Downs Way crosses the Meon Valley and the crystal clear chalk waters of the River Meon. Here you can decide to continue the trail across the river through Exton to Beacon Hill, carpeted in wild flowers and shimmering with clouds of butterflies in spring and summer.

Alternatively, pick up the Meon Valley Trail spanning 11 miles along an old railway line through picturesque countryside from West Meon in the north to Wickham in the south.

Getting around
Distance 13 miles from Petersfield railway station to Old Winchester Hill, with option to continue to Beacon Hill or follow the Meon Valley Trail
Duration Half day, can be extended into full day
Directions – Cycle
  1. Follow the Shipwrights Way/NCN 22 signage from Lavant Street outside Petersfield railway station towards Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
  2. Half-way along ‘The Causeway’ out of Petersfield, continue straight to pick up the traffic-free NCN 222 that runs alongside the A3.
  3. Alternatively, turn left to follow the more scenic NCN 22.
  4. Both routes meet the South Downs Way at the Country Park.
  5. Follow the trail west towards Winchester, passing Butser Hill, Winchester Hill and, if you decide to take in all 3 hills, Beacon Hill.

Useful information

The 160 km South Downs Way is the only UK National Trail fully accessible to riders and can be completed in a two or three day trip throughout the year. The views are stunning, the climbs challenging and the descents exhilarating. If you manage the entire trail you’ll even get a free certificate.

Take a look at the South Downs Way section on the National Trails website for route descriptions, day itineraries and events, and much more.


Stay another night in Petersfield and cycle eastwards along the South Downs Way. Follow the HOMES AND GARDENS itinerary, visit Uppark House high above the South Downs and admire the heathlands at nearby Harting Down. If you are feeling particularly energetic, continue east along the South Downs Way and take the A286 south of Midhurst to visit the Weald & Downland Museum in Singleton or the beautiful West Dean Gardens.

Useful Links


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."