Tour A Méridien Bike Ride
by Robert Veitch
With the Tour de France beginning on the 7th July, here’s Robert Veitch’s mini grand tour of the rolling landscape, north of the South Downs. But do you have the Va Va Froome to wear the maillot jaune?
Grab your bike, helmet and drink, then join the route at the point that suits you best. We arrived by train at Plumpton Station, riding clockwise, crossing the Prime Meridian twice along the way.
From the station, cycle north through Plumpton Green, gently uphill to the very end of Station Road. Turn right, heading southeast for almost one mile, before turning left into Honeypot Lane. Continue to the junction with the A275 in South Chailey one mile further on.
Turn left remembering this is a main road. After ¾ mile turn right into Markstakes Lane, enjoying the quiet solitude that now accompanies the route. Passing Markstakes Farm on the left, the ride drifts from the western hemisphere into the eastern. It’s not marked, but is pleasing all the same.
Shortly after, swing right on to Town Littleworth Road and cycle for almost another two miles, eventually reaching the gradual incline at the bottom of Deadmantree Hill. Turn left where the signpost indicates ‘Barcombe 1m’.
¾ mile further on, turn right at the fingerpost for Hamsey Road and after ½ mile bear right and south towards the Downs. Turn right at the next junction and continue south. The wooded crest of Mount Harry can be seen off to the right, a couple of miles distant as the crow flies.
One mile further on, turn right where the fingerpost indicates Cooksbridge. The road is narrow and eases uphill. To honour its limited stature we named the climb ‘Le petit pic méridien!’ As the hedges fade away a rough lay-by appears on the left. The panorama is a little slice of heaven in good weather that’s well worth stopping for. Malling Hill, Cliffe Hill and the Glynde wind turbine are to the east with Mount Harry and Blackcap to the south. Eagle eyed riders will notice the Meridian marker on the right-hand side of the road. Pedalling from the eastern hemisphere, back to the western, follow the lane to the end, back to the A275.
Turn left, heading south over the level crossing at Cooksbridge Station. Take the right-hand turn (B2116) towards Plumpton and Ditchling.
Follow this road, along the foot of the Downs for a couple of miles or so, before turning right into Plumpton Lane, by a brown sign for the racecourse.
From here, it’s two breezy miles back to Plumpton Station. Approaching the level crossing, the racecourse is on the left. Back at the station the ‘vue panoramique’ of the Downs is well earned and hopefully the train will be on time. ‘Chapeau au cycliste’ enjoy your maillot jaune!
Distance: 14.4 miles
Steep Climbs: 0
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL11
Trains: Hourly during the week, no Cooksbridge service at weekends