There is no need to drive miles out of Brighton with your bike on the roof in search of good riding: the scenic trails start right on the edge of town.

This month’s ride with Nick Marks takes you round a racecourse, past poppy fields and an ancient church, then through a nature reserve full of butterflies before ending at the beach.

You don’t need a car to get there, and you can be back in town in less than two hours.

1 Start at the allotments at the top of Whitehawk Hill Road. Getting there is a bit of a slog, but once you’ve made it there’s no more serious uphill for the rest of the ride.

Follow the dusty track along past the allotments until you get to the Manor Hill road. Cross over and follow the track up round the racecourse. You can either ride on tussocky grass, or take the gravel track that runs right next to the racecourse barriers.

Follow the track as it curves round to the right and goes along the top of the hill.

2 Cross over Wilson Avenue and continue around the back of Sheepcote Valley. There are great views at this point. You can see down to the sea as well as north to the Downs.

3 You need to cross over the track, so look for the crossing point as the track turns south. Cross over, ride into the car park, then turn right and look for a low metal barrier at the south end that leads on to a wide track.

This track takes you all the way down into Ovingdean, past huge swathes of flowering poppies, with the sea in front of you and the curious neatness of East Brighton Golf Course to one side.

4 You arrive in Ovingdean through a farmyard and the track soon joins a road that heads south. Stop and have a look at the solid flint-faced buildings and the 11th-century church with cows grazing next to the churchyard.

The road winds along for a few hundred metres. Then you need to take the first turning left up Ainsworth Avenue.

5 It’s a fairly steep little hill, but well worth it when you get to the top: take a right and head into the Beacon Hill Nature Reserve. Here you can stop for a while and see kestrels and skylarks, plenty of wild flowers and some rare butterflies.

There are paths mown through the tall wild grass; take the right-hand path and it will lead you down into Rottingdean, past a 200-year-old windmill.

Take the main road down to the crossroads.

6 Turn right at the crossroads and head down to the sea. Right in front of you is a nice, gently-shelving beach that is perfect for swimming.

When you’re done, head back along to Brighton on the Undercliff path, perhaps stopping at the cafe on the way for some homemade cake.

Time: One-and-a-half hours.

Difficulty: Fairly easy.

Surface: Gravel, grass, tarmac and chalk.

Your bike: Mountain bikes, or hybrids if you go easy.

Thirsty work: There are cafes and pubs in Rottingdean, but nothing beats the cafe on the Undercliff path.

So you don’t get lost: Brighton and Hove street map, plus the OS 122 if you want to study the contour lines.