Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  




Dear fellow members and friends

8 November 2010

Weren't we lucky with the weather yesterday! What a contrast with today.

Cycle Forum - message from Roger
There will be a meeting of the Brighton and Hove Cycle Forum shortly.   If
you have any issues that you would like to be raised please let Roger know
by Wednesday 10th November - email or phone 01273 321794.

As (half) promised last time a report by Sue (Pringle) on her her charity ride appears after the 'last ride' report. Sue tells me that she's still £29 short of her target. If there's anyone who hasn't sponsored her and would like to help out click on

Winter Rides
At least one person misunderstood what I said in the last newsletter - so there may have been others and I'd better clarify. I didn't say I was not going to lead any more rides in the winter. I did say that since I'm finding very cold weather makes me feel really ill I'm going to take the option of coming to the rendezvous when it is especially cold with a sketch of the route and clear directions and get someone else to lead it. Problem is that you can't predict the weather two or more weeks in advance.

I was going to leave it at that but in the light of other comments perhaps I better be more explicit. It's not about cold feet! On one (non-cycling) occasion last winter out in the cold for about 5 minutes in normal 'winter' clothes on a particularly wintry day I ended up shivering violently and feeling really ill. Back in the warm a few minutes later - with all the usual 'warming up' expedients from hot tea to blankets, hot water bottles and an electric fire, I remained still shivering and feeling awful for several hours; I didn't fully recover for about 24 hours or more. Scary! I think I've always been particularly susceptible to cold - I remember a similar but not quite so bad incident when I was 12 or 13 - but I think I've got more so with age, which is not surprising. So I don't think I would be wise - or be doing any favours to the people I was riding with - if I risked a repetition while out on a ride. Fairly cold weather - like yesterday - is no problem (I'll make sure I'm well wrapped up) But when it's really very cold I may have to bow out.

Of course if there are plenty of volunteers to take on the rides, me having to 'fill in' won't happen and the problem will solve itself. It would be nice to get some suggestions for early next year. There are only 3 rides left this year and it is possible to check January trains. [I haven't checked other directions but there is a bus replacement to Lewes on 9th Jan and from Lewes eastwards on 23rd - which should help a bit with planning.]

Offers - definite or provisional - for any of the dates are very welcome.

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s, (Episode 71 – shorter than usual in the light of the length of this newsletter) is at the end as usual.


Future Rides … for the rest of 2010

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

Sunday To/Led by
21 November* next ride Jim - Gatwick circular
5 December* Roger - West of Hove, starting at the pier
19 December 'Traditional' end of year Berwick circular - Ian

* Ian not available

…And until the beginning of May 2011

Sunday To/Led by
Saturday 1 January Traditional brunch ride to Carats café
9 January  
23 January  
6 February  
20 February  
6 March*  
20 March  
3 April  
17 April  
1 May  

* Ian not available

The Next Ride

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 21 November
Gatwick Circular Ride

Gatwick - Horley - Burstow - Outwood - South Nutfield -
Redhill Aerodrome - Horley - Gatwick

This is a re-run of a ride we did in March 2008 from Horley, when we took advantage of engineering works that required all trains to stop there. Three months later I led a Gatwick ride (westwards to Leigh) which passed near to Horley Station, and I have tacked the first mile and a half of that ride onto the earlier ride so that (a) we can do it without changing trains, and (b) we can again experience the delightful Riverside Garden Park that is, improbably, on the doorstep of Gatwick Airport.

Sadly, the Dog & Duck, where we had lunch last time, has closed, so we will have to make for the Bell at Outwood instead. This is not an ideal Clarion pub - a bit too snooty for me - and the food is on the dear side, but with cheaper 'light bites', plenty to choose from, and London Pride to drink. It will be busy, so I would appreciate some notice of who is intending to come so that I can book a table. Please e-mail me at

Last time one of the highlights was a tea stop at the café at Redhill Aerodrome. Well, I liked it anyway. I read in a recent report of a discussion at Shoreham Airport about why on earth a group of eco-warriors like us should want to sit and watch planes taking off and landing; well, we can continue that discussion at Redhill. (For me, it could be that we would like to think that if planes had never got any bigger than this, all would be well - a bit like fascists and murderers who were charming babies once upon a time …)


Length: 20 miles.
Hills: One serious hill we can walk up; a few undulations.
Traffic: Mainly quiet lanes and bridleways/tracks.
Surfaces: The bridleways and tracks have hard surfaces, so if it is wet the worst problem will be water rather than mud; however we can take detours along roads if we have to.
Duration: about 5 hours.

Catch the 10:44 train from Brighton (be there at 10:15 for Groupsave) or meet at Gatwick Airport Station at 11:15. Londoners can get the 10:32 (Brighton train) from London Victoria (stopping at Clapham Junction at 10:39).

Return trains: Every 10-15 minutes in both directions.

My phone number: 07742-963239


The Last Ride - Roger's Report

Sunday 7 November 2010
Polegate - Cowbeech

Todays' ride started with fun and games at Brighton station. Five of us met to catch the 10:20 train - Corrine, Joyce, Leon, Roger and Sue. I was first through the gate. The ticket inspector said he wasn't sure if we'd get our bikes on the train because it was only two coaches. I said we'd done it before and marched off towards platform 8. By the time he'd had similar conversations with four more Clarion members and a couple of other cyclists the ticket inspector was itching to wield the rule book.

He followed us to platform 8 where we were already loading the bikes onto a fairly empty train. He managed to persuade the train guard that, even though there were no wheelchairs or baby buggies to be seen, bikes should not be allowed on the train, not even in the bike space. So we had to wait for the next train.

Fortunately it was not a long wait. The guard on this train helped us find places for the bikes and Joyce asked him if there was any reason why we had not been allowed on the other train, a health and safety inspection perhaps? No, the guard's view was simply that the ticket inspector concerned was rather over-zealous (not his exact words).

When we got to Polegate we found Ian enjoying a coffee at a café: Leon had phoned to say that we would be late.

Unfortunately no one had a camera so there are no pictures of the glorious autumn colours on the trees along the Cuckoo Trail. The sky was a beautiful blue that Joyce wished we could photograph. Leon's comment that memory is the best camera didn't placate her: she feared that this colour may never be seen again. I asked if she was predicting the end of the world, but no, she just felt that some experiences never recur. We chatted on along these lines, touching on Greek philosophy, the metaphysics of identity and a deconstruction of Monte Carlo or Bust, none of which I will recount.

A few slightly challenging hills brought us to the Merrie Harriers at Cowbeech to find a table for six labelled 'Reserved for cyclists'. The food was prompt and enjoyable. As we ate, the sky outside darkened and the rain started. As we returned to our bikes it stopped and the sky was blue again, but a slightly different shade!

We rode across the Pevensey levels with a tail wind, stopping at one point to let a family of swans - or were they ducks? - across the road. As the sun dropped, the air got cooler so we stopped for tea at the Old Loom. Then, on to the station, just in time for the 15:42, two-car service back to Brighton; it was crowded but no railway officials turned a hair as we - carefully - squeezed our bikes in with the baby buggies and large luggage.

Many thanks to Ian for a great day out!


[NB Corinne used MotionX-GPS on the iPhone to track the ride - it is a bit confusing because it also includes half of a previous ride from Lewes! I suggest you view this Google map in Satellite mode and hit the 'End' button to take you to Polegate where they started and ended!

View Larger Map

If you have Google Earth installed, contact me and I'll send you the file - fred]

Trauma And Delight On Downslink Adventure

Sue P/Sikka's sponsored cycle ride raising money for Buddhafield's Land Appeal

[More photos on Flickr]

(see to find out about Buddhafield's Land Appeal)

The End

On Sunday 17th October, at 7.45 I started out alone to begin my journey. It was a beautiful crisp sunny morning. I was somewhat apprehensive as the first half of the route was new to me, but the weather was auspicious.

Travelling on the train to Guildford via Havant I was shocked and in panic when my train missed its connection. The 37 mile ride is advertised as taking a whole day - and the nights are closing in early. So my schedule was already tight!

In Guildford my downloaded local authority map to the Downslink didn't quite cut the biscuit so I asked directions - of many people - and was sent up into the town and round and about, getting more and more distraught and desperate. After a grand tour of Guildford town I eventually settled for a footpath winding its way up and down the Chantries (ie wooded hilliness) mostly pushing my bike through thick sand. Everyone I met there reassured me - 'it's a long way' to the Downslink!

So when I eventually passed St Martha's Church on the top of the North Downs Way to begin my official ride it was already 12.15! In fifteen minutes' time, at 12.30, I was due to meet two friends at Southwater, 20 miles away. This was not going to happen! I blessed the mobile phone - and Jill and Malcolm - when they offered to ride up the path to meet me on my way down.

St Martha's 2

The top of St Martha's Hill is very beautiful - high up (166 metres), covered in trees and sandy soil, with wonderful views over the weald. Lovely for walking, treacherous for cycling. So much deep sand along the bridleways. Finding the start of the track was like solving a Chinese puzzle. With many routes going every whichway, and visibility interrupted by trees and slopes, I again resorted to asking. This time it paid off and I found the commemorative stone announcing the building of the Downslink path in 1984 and my first Downslink signpost.

Downs Link

Sand is mentioned on the internet as a feature of the North Downs - until I experienced this myself, it hadn't occurred to me I would have to walk my bicycle over much of the first stage of the route. A fantastic surface for horses - to whom I gave way. Also very rutted, and not at all level! In fact until reaching the track built over disused railway lines, starting at Bramley & Wonersh station, deep trenches, boulders and steep sides to the path impeded my travel. Once on this wide and level (if jarring!) surface I could cycle freely, bent on making up time. The 'hundred years railway' had been built in 1865 joining Guildford via Bramley with Christ's Hospital, while the southern half of the Downslink from Christ's Hospital to Shoreham had been built over a line opened in 1861 at nearby Itchingfield Junction. Both were closed by Beeching in 1966.

Baynards station

What joy just beyond Cranleigh, to meet up with my two friends, and to seek out with them a sunny wooden bench where we could eat our picnics. Not enough time to stop for a meal in the pub (further on The Bax Castle is well situated for those with time on their hands, about half way down near Christ's Hospital and Southwater).

Refreshed and with renewed energy we travelled on with the image of a large pot of tea hastening our pace. Just got to the Country Park at Southwater in time!! What bliss - tea, bread pudding and ice cream - all they had left. Delightful to sit inside by the window and look out onto the lake - a lovely spot.

Southwater Park

(In earlier days the clay pit now filled with water and home to ducks and swans, had been dug out to make bricks.)

After debating whether to continue - it was 5 pm and the sun was low on the horizon - Malcolm and I chose to cycle the 7 miles to Henfield while Jill drove the van to meet us at the Cat and Canary pub, situated conveniently on the Downslink itself. Formerly the Henfield Station Hotel, it is just a few yards north of a housing estate, ironically known as 'Beechings', where the old station used to be.

That last stretch, and having company for half the ride, transformed my day. The surface had improved to become almost smooth. It was level and we sped along, enjoying views over fields and rivers, with the sun low over the South Downs and beauty all around.

The Cat and Canary proved to be the last stop of the day. Useless to continue in the dark. So we settled for a beer and I was grateful for a lift home.

Cat and Canary

Next morning, still hyped up from the day before, and full of a desire to complete my journey and my commitment, I travelled to Henfield and enjoyed a pleasant morning cycling the last stage through Bramber to Shoreham in lovely open country with a backdrop of the Downs and Chanctonbury Ring.

After a brief pause to appreciate the view over the river Adur, with Lancing College on my right and Shoreham Airport to the left, I turned my back on the old wooden tollbridge and toddled off back to Brighton.

Shoreham tollbridge

That afternoon - I fell asleep!

Many thanks to those who generously supported me with donations - and if anyone feels inspired to contribute to the Buddhafield land project, or would like to find out more, just go to the Just Giving website at the top of this report. It's surprisingly straight forward.

Sue P aka Sikka

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

71. A Clarion CC for SW London?…

Still with Swiftsure's column for 1 June 1895. (Which may inspire our London members and friends, though it's doubtful that Mr Crisp still lives at the same address.)

Will all cycling Clarionettes who have not already done so, and who reside in any of the undermentioned places, please communicate with W.H. Crisp, 45, Wirtemberg Street, Clapham, S.W re formation of Clarion C.C. for S.W. London? Clapham, Brixton, Westminster, South Lambeth, Camberwell, Walworth, Battersea, and any part of the S.W district generally.

Next time. A piece in the daily press inspires (?) some verse

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