The South Downs National Park is located in England, U.K. It covers an area of 1,627 square kilometers (628 square miles), stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne and through Hampshire, West Sussex, and East Sussex counties. The park is renowned for its chalk hills of the South Downs, as well as its sandstone and clay hills and vales.
If you’re interested in taking an e-bike trip to South Downs National Park, this article will answer any questions you may have!
Are e-bikes allowed in South Downs National Park?
Yes, you can ride an e-bike in South Down National Park. However, riders must first ensure that their vehicle abides by the U.K.’s electric bicycle laws. In the U.K., e-bikes are known as electrically assisted pedal cycles (or, EAPCs). No license, registration, or insurance is needed, but it must meet the following requirements:
- Must have pedals that can be used to propel the vehicle
- Must show the power output or the manufacturer of the motor
- Must show the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike
- The electric motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when travelling more than 25 km per hour (15.5 miles per hour)
If an electric bicycle meets the EAPC requirements, it is classed as a normal pedal bike, which means cyclists can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else that traditional pedal bikes are allowed.
How is South Downs National Park organized, is it bicycle-friendly?
South Downs National Park is very well organized for cycling! First and foremost, the park includes the South Downs Way trail, which is a car-free long-distance footpath and bridleway that is 1,200 km and runs through the park. Overall, trail types in the park include paved, off-road, flat, and mountainous. Riders should take a look at the difficulty level, trail type, and distance of each route before embarking.
Some routes in Hampshire include the Meon Valley Trail, Cycle Rides around River Itchen, and Rowlands Castle Cycle. Routes in West Sussex include Centurion Way, The Downs Link, and Cycle Rides near Amberley and Bignor Hill. Routes in East Sussex include Egrets Way Loop, Ilford Hill Mountain Bike Ride, and Cycle Rides around Peacehaven.
Where to stay during the trip?
South Downs National Park offers a variety of places to stay, ranging from campsites and cottages to hotels and B&Bs.
Some camping options include Chalky Downs, New Wharf Campsite, Woodfire Campsite, Waydown Shepherds Hut, and Housedean Farm Campsite.
Hotels located near the park include The Angel Inn, The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa, Chichester Park Hotel, and the Park House Hotel & Spa. Visit Booking.com for more hotel recommendations!
Where can I eat? Or should I take my food with me?
South Downs National Park is comprised of many farms, which means the cuisine in this area includes a lot of local produce.
The park has an abundance of eateries in and around it, so while you can certainly take snacks and food with you while on your e-bike trip, there are also plenty of options to dine at.
For coffee, tea, and quick on-the-go food options, visit Caffe Verdi, The Granary Bakery, Garton’s Coffee House, Comestibles, Flint Barn Café, and Cowdray Farm Shop & Café.
For pub-style food, try Angels Bar & Grill, Chestnut Horse, Midhouse Grill & Pizza, Ocean Blue Fish and Chips, The White Horse, and Bricklayers Arms.
Other restaurant options include The Olive & Vine, Faustino’s Wine and Tapas Bar, Lime and Spice, La Piazzetta, The Spread Eagle Hotel Restaurant, and The Royal Oak Country Pub & Restaurant.
Visitors can also buy local produce at the many farmers’ markets that take place every weekend across the park. For instance, Sussex has markets in Lewes, Pulborough, Slindon, and Lynchmere, and Hampshire has markets in Petersfield and Alton.
What gear should I take on the trip?
Be sure to bring proper bike and safety gear with you! This should include: a helmet, backpack, water, e-bike charger, sunscreen, sunglasses, bike-appropriate clothing (e.g. waterproof), a bike repair kit and pump, a first aid kit, and front and rear lights.
If you are planning to camp while in South Downs National Park, be sure to also bring: a sleeping bag, extra clothes, food, cutlery, dishware, tent, and a valid ID.
Where can I charge my e-bike?
Though there are currently no maps of official e-bike charging stations in South Downs National Park, cyclists may be able to charge their e-bike at some cafes, campgrounds, and restaurants. It is always important to ask for permission before doing so.
If you are planning to rent an e-bike, companies may also be able to provide recommendations on where to charge your e-bike.
You can also visit Chargemap to view more locations of electric vehicle charging stations in the area!
What kind of e-bike do I need to ride in South Downs National Park?
South Downs National Park is comprised of many terrain types, so we advise you choose your e-bike accordingly. If you are planning to ride only on the flat cycling trails available, a commuter or city cruiser will be suitable.
However, if you are planning to traverse off-road, hilly, or mountainous regions, we recommend choosing an electric mountain bike (eMTB). And lastly, if you are planning to traverse both these types of terrains, go for a hybrid or all-terrain electric bike.
Where can I rent an e-bike in South Downs National Park, or should I take one with me?
Yes, there are many options to rent an e-bike while in South Downs National Park, which we will feature later in the article!
If you are planning to bring your e-bike with you, make sure it abides by all of the U.K.’s specifications and laws for electric bicycles.
What else can I do while on an e-bike trip in South Downs National Park?
The South Downs National Park area is filled to the brim with attractions, archeological sites, and other historic landscapes.
Some top historical attractions include the Amberley Museum, an open-air industrial heritage museum; Weald and Downland Living Museum, a 40-acre museum with 50 fully preserved historical buildings spanning 950 years; Lewes Priory, the site of the battle of Lewes, and; Cissbury Ring, one of the largest hill forts in Europe.
Visitors can also check out the park’s various natural landscapes. For instance, check out Seven Sisters Country Park to explore its prolific series of chalk cliffs, see the ancient and picturesque yew trees of Kingley Vale, relax on the rural sands of Climping Beach, and go stargazing at Butser Hill.
Other sites to see are Staunton Farm, Drusillas Park, Stammer Park Nature Reserve, Arundel Castle, Brighton Palace Pier, and Bignor Roman Villa.
Check out Google Travel’s list here for more recommendations on things to do while in South Downs National Park!
What is the best time of year to visit South Downs National Park on an e-bike?
It is recommended that cyclists visit South Downs National Park anytime between late May and early October. This is because the summer and early fall months experience the least amount of rainfall and have warmer temperatures that make it more pleasant for cycling and other activities.
Summer temperatures range from 10 to 21 degrees Celsius, and autumn temperatures range from 8 to 18 degrees Celsius.
Resources to help plan your trip
Visit the official South Downs National Park website for more tips on how to plan your visit, things to do, and other information.
If you’re looking to rent an e-bike for your trip, there are a number of options.
- First is Beacon Bikes, located in Sussex. Cyclists can rent e-bikes in half-day or full-day intervals, and the company also provides route guidance to riders.
- Next is Southern Ebike Rentals, which deliver/collect e-bike rentals at a list of surrounding locations, and can be rented in half or full day intervals.
- Surrey Hills Cycle Hire offers e-bikes that can be rented in 2 hour, 4 hour, or full day increments.
- Right Bike offers an electric bike hire service in Hampshire, where riders can rent in 1 day, 3 day, or 7 day intervals.
- Lastly, Bespoke Biking offers rentals in 1 day, 2 day, 3 day, 4 day, 5 day, or more than 5 day increments.
To help map out which trails you’d like to cycle on, visit South Downs National Park’s “Cycling Routes” webpage here.
And lastly, for more food options and recommendations, check out Trip Advisor’s list here!
Read also: Check out best UK travel destinations by electric bike in this overview article.
Do not miss this video introduction to South Downs National Park: