Truleigh Hill youth hostel review.

The other weekend I rode from Reigate to Guildford, and then down to Shoreham-on-Sea; the intention being to complete the last bit of the South Downs Way the next day, arriving in Eastbourne mid afternoon. So, where to stop overnight? Goodwood had a revival on, so all hotels were booked up. You try finding accommodation that has secure bike storage. The only place I could find was the youth hostel, so that it had to be. Booking up was easy enough, and the price cheap enough. Indeed it was very cheap, at around £20, making one wonder why people camp. Anyway, rode the 62 miles there and I must say how very boring the Downs Link is. I've ridden it before, when it opened way back when, so had some idea but I'd never ridden the whole length. It takes ages to do and is very uninspiring. If I was to do the trip again, and I may well do, it wouldn't involve all of the link - I'd cut over Leith Hill and start at Cranleigh.

So, the hostel. Got there about 7pm and getting in proved to be fun as the door has a pass code on. Enter the code and you have a nano second to pull the door open - quite literally. In the end somebody wedged the door open. Inside was lovely and warm, and the reception guy friendly. Spotted beer behind the counter, and figured I'd have a tipple later on after visiting the pub. At this point rather cleverly I didn't realise they did food on the evening, so had planned on riding along the downs to the pub some two miles away. Silly boy. Once it was pointed out that food was available, well, that was it and food was ordered. How lovely it proved to be, and all for £12. Three courses of quite healthy food was very unexpected but welcome. As were the three pints of guiness afterwards. There's something heartening about guiness after a long day in the saddle.

The room was clean, as were the showers and it was nice to be able to dry out sweaty clothing. Could have done with more toilets for the number of people stopping. Being a youth hostel it was a tad noisy, but nothing earplugs didn't sort. Breakfast the next morning was an extravagant affair; continental plus a fry up. By then I'd been up some time, having made myself a coffee in the self catering bit with the Duke of Edinburgh lot. Indeed breakfast was so extravagant that I didn't need to eat again until about 2pm. This proved to be lucky. On the North Downs we have cafes all over the shop; Reigate, Headley, Box Hill and two at Newland's Corner. The last bit of the SDW has.... Well none really.

And the South Downs Way onwards from Truleigh? Bit boring, very exposed and very, very hilly, although they have the benefit of being small so some bonus. Indeed if you think the climb up Box Hill is tough, then wow are you in for a surprise. A lot of cyclists wimp out and walk the last few climbs. I only did them through extravagant and prolonged use of my granny ring. A month later my knees still hurt. The last forty miles of the SDW are tough, but if you have a reasonable level of fitness prior then you'll be fine. You will suffer if you've done very little riding before though. Simple solution there; do some decent rides before you do it. Not sure I'd want to do the actual SDW again though as it isn't very inspiring. Big, wide expanse of grass. Bit like a motorway for bikes? Next time I'd look at a route that took in some of the side hills. But I'd happily use the youth hostel again.