Top Road Bike Climbs in Sussex

In our latest blog, we are exploring some of the best road cycling climbs in Sussex.  If you thought that this relatively low-level county would have only a limited amount of decent climbing, you’d be wrong!  There are some great challenges out there and within this blog series, we will explore our top climbs.

bike on the south downs way

Bignor Hill Cycle Climb

Climb 160m, max gradient 20%, length ~ 2.0km

To start we will go with one of the toughest, Bignor Hill.

This climb starts in Bignor, a couple of miles to the west of the A29 near Bury.  The road to the top is a single track lane heading south and it is an up and back.  The road is a bit rough in places, mostly at the start and through the first steep climb but once through that, the surface improves.

The first 200m is flat and you weave your way over the rough surface, then suddenly as you start to bear left the road rears up and you’re into full-on climbing.  This is a tough section and if you’re like me you’re out of the saddle and pushing hard.

Weaving round to the right the gradient thankfully lessens a bit but is still 10% plus and carries on like this for a few hundred yards.  After this, the gradient lessens again and you can push on to the summit at 208m.  Fantastic views from the top, to the south the sea, to the north beautiful Sussex.

To the west and east, you are looking at the South Downs Way, a brilliant mountain biking trail. Turning around, care is needed on the lower part of the descent.  Add this climb into a longer route around the Downs.

Bedham Cycle Climb

Climb ~ 90m, max gradient 15%, length ~1.57km 

You are approaching this cracking little climb in the beautiful Bedham Hills from the North, Wisborough Green side and coming down Fittleworth Road which then turns into Horsebridge Hill.  The run in from WG is a couple of miles of good road going through undulating terrain but when you see the road sign saying gradient 15% you know things are about to get tough.

The road is now single track and starts to get steep shortly after as you turn to the left then to the right.  The gradient then lessens but after a short stretch, the road again turns to the left and steepens again.  Dig in here, the road then turns right and pushes on to the summit, but it’s pretty steep and the legs will be burning up this last bit.  Views are not spectacular from the top, but you didn’t do it for the views!  Enjoy the long gradual descent down to Fittleworth, but take care as it’s fast on a single track.

Chantry Lane Cycle Climb

Climb 135m, max gradient ~15%, length 2.25km

This is an up and down but weave it into a longer route. It is worth it, the views from the top are great in all directions.
The road up Chantry starts just off the A283 about 0.5km to the east of Storrington, You meander along this road, which becomes a single track after the left turn off to the industrial estate, for about 1.5km. It can be a little mucky in places if it has rained but generally, the road surface is pretty good.

When you see a house with a pond on your left-hand side then the serious climbing starts. It’s a pretty stiff first 200m, so be ready for it – you will certainly be puffing a bit at the top of this first steep section! The gradient then reduces and you continue climbing up the single track road turning gently to the right and the top of the Downs comes into sight. The last 100m up to the car park is also a stiff test and the legs will be burning at this point. At the top, you can see the coast at Worthing, to the west and east the South Downs Way running along to Kithurst and Washington respectively and to the north, you get a great view of Horsham.

Harting Hill Cycle Climb

Climb 120m, max gradient ~13%, length 1.61km

You are starting this little climb just to the east of South Harting up the aptly named Hill lane. It all starts rather benignly and the road meanders to the right then the left but remains fairly flat. After 500m or so the gradient starts to increase rising up to a fairly steady 12-13% from here to the top, You’re climbing up through the trees, it is all very nice, but sadly you will have your head down as the gradient just doesn’t ease up at all.

The last few metres before you hit the main road (B2141) is a little steeper and you need to be a bit careful as you get to the junction. Turn right takes you back to South Harting, nice descent but care needed on corners and at the junction, turn left takes you on a fantastic fast descent all the way down to Lavant.

Ditchling Beacon Cycle Climb

Climb 158m, max gradient ~23%, length 2.7km

You can’t have the top cycle climbs in Sussex without including this iconic climb, a feature of the London to Brighton cycle ride. Starts gently as you roll out of the village of Ditchling heading south towards Brighton. It turns left then right and then the climbing starts as you approach the left hairpin through the steepest part of the climb, peaking for a short spell at about 23%.

Once round the hairpin, you still have ¾ km to go but the gradient lessens and you can push pretty hard onto the top at Ditchling Beacon. Great views to the north from the car park at the top to the north.

Devils Dyke Cycle Climb

Climb 130m, max gradient ~9%, length 3km

This route takes you up from the north starting at the roundabout on the A281, although you can cut in from the village of Poynings after following a nice road along the lee of the South Downs. The B road is quite busy so take care as you gently wind your way up the hill gradually. After 1.5km, just after Saddlescombe, you take the right turn towards Devils Dyke Golf Club, this section is probably the steepest bit of the climb and goes on for a couple of hundred metres.

After that is flattens out and you have a nice section to the Golf Club at the top. Views spectacular and you have the amazing sight of Devils Dyke to your right. Continuing on this road takes you around and back to the main road above Brighton, the descent here is well worth all the climbing effort.

Kidds Hill Cycle Climb

Climb 130m, max gradient ~23%, length 3km

Flicking over to East Sussex and Ashdown Forest, this is a lovely climb taking you from Coleman’s Hatch to the viewpoint on the B2026. The starting point is the B2110 just north of Coleman’s Hatch and you have a lovely descent for a km or so before the road flattens out and the climb rears up in front of you.

The road is fairly straight, so you can see where you are going and also the steep section, which whilst short, does get to circa 23%. Once over the steep bit the gradient gradually flattens out and then you have the rewarding views over the Ashdown Forest whilst you catch your breath. There are plenty of delightful routes and descents from this high point.

Blackdown Hill Cycle Climb

Climb 158m, max gradient~15%, length 2.9km

You are right on the northern edge of Sussex here but this is a great climb that rewards you with fantastic views from the top to the south. Take Jays Lane, just south of Gospel Green, which is a small road, easily missed. Heading eastwards you climb up Jays Lane reaching a steep point near the end before you turn right and head up towards the top.

Butser Hill Cycle Climb

Climb 120m, max gradient ~22%, length 5km

Review coming soon

Easebourne Cycle Climb

Climb 120m, max gradient ~8%, length 2.86km

Review coming soon

If you are looking for more cycle routes in Sussex, then check out our page for more ideas!