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White Downs

This is a typical winter ride that we might do.  This is mainly because it isn't too long, and Leith and Holmbury hill tend to stay fairly dry when it has been wet.

Start at White Downs car park.  Go through the back of the car park and down the grassy hill to the main bridleway.  Climb up from here to a grassy plateau.   Take a left here down a slight hill to a gate (after only 50 yards).  Go through the gate onto some singletrack accross the edge of a meadow to another gate.   Go through and down to the main road.  Cross the main road (care) and go up the farm track to join the bridleway.  Climb up, then skirt round the edge of the field and then down what appears to be someone's driveway behind a pub.  At the minor road, turn right and then left (near the pub).  After about a quarter mile turn right down an even minor road and then at the junction turn left.  Climb up the road for about half a mile (I promise this is all the road climbing you have to do) until you get to a signpost for the youth hostel. 

Ride up the road (in bad condition, usually with mud down the centre) until you get to a small car park, near the yout hostel.   From here follow any of the tracks up.  Keep heading up until you get to the top of Holmbury Hill.  Basically, from the Youth Hostel, their is one track that runs across where you want to go, and 3 tracks that go up.  The right hand track that goes straight on, and appears to be the best track, is actually the worst for riding.  It takes you out onto firetrack and then you can follow your nose up to the top.  The left most of the tracks is the bottom of 'Telegraph Road' - I don't recommend riding up here as you'll upset any one whose riding down - this is a good cross country type downhill from the other direction.

However, if you take the middle track, it'll lead you up to the Top of Holmbury up some nice singletrack climbing, in and out of woods, it's a reasonable way.  Once at the top, savour the quiet view, take a look at Widowmaker, the bridleway that leads off the steep side (due south) of the Hill - called this for good reason!  We're heading back down the main firetrack (footpath to east is quite nice, but there's all sorts of barriers against riding now).  As you head down the firetrack, you'll see a couple of routes to the right after about 200 yards.   If it's dry, go for it!  These take you into a great area of steep drop offs and bombholes, a good laugh!  If it's wet though, stay away and head down the firetrack (you get big deep puddles in the holes). 

Keep right, and you'll come out at what we call 5 ways.  It's an open area with loads of different routes away.  We want to go North East, toward the cricket ground.  The map says it's a footpath, but people drive up here, so I can't loose to much sleep over it.  Go down all the way (watch the barrier on the bend near the bottom).  At the road, turn left.  Then at the T junction, turn left and then right.  Go up the road for about 200yds and you'll see a bridleway going straight on, where the road goes left.  Climb up this track, going straight on, and climb all the way up to High Ashes Farm.

Past High Ashes, the track comes out on a road.  Turn right and keep going till you come to a car park.  Go into the car park and out the back, heading up all the time, onto tracks that take you up to Leith Hill.  You can ride all the way up, so if you find yourself on a track you can't ride, you've gone the wrong way!  Have cup of tea and sandwich at the Tower.   Savour the fact that you are at the highest point in SE England - it's gonna be all downhill from here (not quite!).

From the tower, head steeply downwards (east), and then at the low point, head roughly north, where you can keep going down.   Head down this firetrack downhill (v fast) until you come to a unmetalled road.   Keep going down (slight dh).  Just before you get to the end of this track, there is a right turn, that appears to be a driveway down to someones house.  It is signposted as a bridleway, but it's easy to miss.  Go down this right and then shortly begin very steep climb up (with speed humps on it!).  On a good day in the summer I can get up here on middle ring, but usually my granny lives round here!

At the top, you'll come out a cross roads.  Turn left on a very sandy track and head slightly downhill along the RUPP.   If the main track is muddy (usually is) you can ride to the right on the singletrack, quite nice!  Once you've gone along here for about a mile the track widens out and then drops down to where the bridleway leaves the RUPP.  Break off right here (now vastly improved since drainage work was carried out).  After a nice downhill, you'll come out at the Rookery, a nice house with a waterfall in it's garden will catch your eye!

Head down to the road and go almost straight across.  Along this road for about 300yds, then turn right down farm track that becomes a bridleway.  Follow this along (rolling) and it'll bring you out at the road near White Downs car park.  Left up the road and right into the car park.   Nice ride.

Of course, this is just a taster.   The ride can be done in either direction, as some of the climbs mentioned here make good downhills.  There are many more tracks around that you can add in to spice up the more boring bits of trail (fireroads, roads etc).  But I decided I'd keep it simple to start with.  If you want to add in some more riding, start by heading up onto the North Downs and adding another loop.

Don't forget your not the only users of this often crowded area so watch out for walkers and be curtious - and get out my way if I'm coming the other way!!!! 

Good luck

Nick

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