Cycling: the Centurion Way
PUBLISHED: 00:16 30 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013
Si Beales and his wife decided it was time for baby Rufus' first bike trip. So they set off for Chichester's Centurion way with trailer in tow
Our little one, Rufus is nine months old and, as it was a lovely sunny day, it felt like the perfect opportunity to take him on his first bike ride. Although hes just beginning to crawl hes not quite ready for a bike seat yet so we borrowed a trailer from a family friend. Fiona and I have always been a little nervous about taking a trailer on the open road, so we were keen to find a relatively short off-road ride.
We soon came across The Centurion Way in West Sussex on the Sustrans website. Previously part of the Chichester to Midhurst railway line, this path for cyclists and pedestrians runs for six miles from Chichester to West Dean.
We decided to start in West Dean as parking looked easier and it proved to be a wise decision. This delightful little village is just off the A286 near Binderton House.
The trailer had folded down easily and was just as easy to set up again. Our three year old, Finn, was tremendously excited about the prospect of sharing a moving tent with Rufus and the two boys were soon tucked up warmly and chomping on biscuits.
The route from West Dean runs on a cycle path alongside the main road for about a mile with lovely views over two quintessentially English farms. You then turn left down a track and towards the old railway.
Its easy and pleasant cycling and perfect as an introduction to those who havent cycled for a while and feel like getting out in the fresh air. The route was so named by a local schoolboy as it runs across an old Roman road. The local council and arts organisations have ensured that there are plenty of sculptures and artworks to look at all with a Roman theme.
Passing through open countryside and a small housing estate, the way eventually comes through woodland and then out into open countryside. At first you feel that you have stumbled across the grassy outlines of an amphitheatre but it seems to be a modern interpretation, with two sets of sentries keeping guard.
Its a perfect spot for a picnic so we opted to take a break and refuel. As a shower looked like it was on its way, we decided to head for home conscious that Rufus might not be so cooperative in the rain. Had we carried on we would have found ourselves in the heart of Chichester with an opportunity to explore this delightful, historical city.
Arriving back in West Dean, just ahead of the first rain drops, we hurriedly packed up the trailer, which had proved to be a great success. Warm and cosy and just big enough for the two boys, it was remarkably stable and not too tiring to tow.
The Centurion Way is one of those routes that you can happily potter along with all the family on a Sunday afternoon just as we did. For the more adventurous, theres a route from West Dean up on the South Down way but perhaps well leave that until the boys are a little bigger.
You never know, it will probably end up with me in a trailer and the boys up front. Thatll be the day. Happy Cycling.
You can see more details on The Centurion Way at www.westsussex.gov.uk or at www.sustrans.org.uk