Distance: 40 Miles Difficulty: Medium
This ride is ideally suited to a road bike, where you can cover the distance quicker than you would on any other bike. However, it can be done on anything else, and some of the roads when we rode it had some larger than normal holes in them. . It should take about 3 hours for anyone with a medium fitness level. As it is mainly on roads, this is not recommended for under 16’s.
This cycle ride starts in the wonderful 1066 country and seaside town of Hastings, actually in the old town under the shadows of the large fishing huts that are still in use today. Hastings is a wonderful town, which in my opinion has not changed with the modern times. I do not mean that in a bad way, quite the contrary actually. It has maintained its charm and at weekend the A21 from London is packed with people leaving the big smoke to spend a weekend in this lovely setting. In fact the locals call these visitors DFL’s. Down from London. There are some wonderful places to stop at here, but it’s the start of this bike ride and I fear if we start by visiting one of these fantastic restaurants, fish and chip shops or public houses, then we will never get on the bike and this ride will not ever get started. No fear though, as we finish we where we start on this ride.
Get on your bike and point it West with the sea to your left and the cliffs to your right. Look up on top of the hill, and you will see your first castle, Hastings Castle. This was ordered to be built shortly after William from Normandy landed in 1066 and actually before the Battle of Hastings started. There is not much of it left today, it took a few heavy hits during the Second World War, as the whole of Hastings did. We now cycle and follow the A259 out of Hastings and along to Pevensey, which is where William landed. Here we can have a rest as 12 miles of your bike ride are complete. This castle was originally built in 290AD. What you see today is a Norman reconstruction done in 1925.
Now to brush off that saddle, get back on your bike and head back to the roundabout on the A259, off to cycle to our 3rd castle and in my opinion what everyone should look like.
Cycle up to and through the village of Wartling and you will come across a quaint Sussex pub called The Lamb Inn (01323 832116). You have now done 15 miles, so why not have a cold drink on a hot day, or a warm drink on a cold one. Stretch those legs a bit, rest your bike up as this place is very cycle friendly.
When you are done get back on your bike, and head north again on this road and after a mile turn into Herstmonceaux Castle. This was built in the 15th century to build a house worthy of a man in the position he was. It is purely cosmetic and was not built as a defensive castle. It is rather beautiful though, and for a fee you can visit or if you prefer you can actually get married here. That is your third castle done. The Sussex countryside in my opinion is just staggering beautiful. Riding along these lanes seeing the beauty is amazing and is something you will ordinarily miss when in a car. We now head towards the village of Herstmonceaux, and then start to head back towards the coast through another quaint village named Magham Down and back down towards Pevensey once again. Our route retraces your bike ride back to those fishing huts in Hastings, but you could take the next exit on the roundabout at Pevensey and take the coast road back to Normans Bay and then get back on the A259 to Hastings Old Town.
Well done, three castles, some lovely rolling countryside and now a abundance of places to visit. These are some of my favourites.
THE CROWN – CROWN LANE – OLD TOWN, HASTINGS
FISH AND CHIP SHOP