Dear fellow members and friends
27 March 2006
I'm hopeful that the last ride will have provided our last soaking for a while – brighter skies and pub gardens are just around the corner!
It was good to meet Jim and Jeff on Sunday's ride. Thanks again to Jeff for the Sustrans map which suggests one or two new route ideas for us to explore over the coming months.
Included below are details of the next two rides and Jim's report of the last one. First, though, a request from Ian...
I've had an e-mail from Dean Spears (B&H Cycling and Walking Officer) who writes:-
‘You may be interested to learn that the city council is thinking carefully about organising various cycle promotion events to coincide with our sustainable transport media campaign: from May the focus will be on cycling.
Do you think you could discuss with your members possible events that you can think of? – such as guided cycle rides et al. With cycling demonstration status, we are encouraged to be innovative and creative. For example, we are working with a Lecturer from the Univ. of Essex to deliver a digital media arts production 'Les Cyclists' which will take a comical look at the relationship between British and French cycling in June (Bike Week). We can also help develop ideas/plan events etc.
Please check out the Cycling England website which gives an indication of our ambitions and the activities of the other demonstration projects: www.cyclingengland.co.uk/dt_brighton.php.
This request caught me as I was literally packing my bags to go away – and I am stumped for bright ideas. But if you have any – or want further info, please contact Dean and (as he requests) Peter Tilson, the city council's Senior Campaigns Manager.
The Next Rides
Sunday 9 April
Glynde, Barcombe, Piltdown, Isfield (c. 22 miles)
Starting at Glynde Station we'll take a route which follows the River Ouse – largely to the west on the way out, crossing it at Sharpsbridge and then back to Glynde on its eastern side.
Our outward journey will skirt Ringmer, cross the A26 and on to Barcombe Cross. We have the option of lunch alongside the river at the Anchor Inn and will then make our way on to Sharpsbridge, reaching our furthest point just south of Piltdown where the Peacock Inn provides an alternative lunch option.
The journey back takes us through Buckham Hill and Isfield and on to Glynde passing the llamas and alpacas (as pictured a few reports ago). There is the option of a stop at the tearoom in Glynde before heading back to the station.
Meet 10.37 at Glynde Station.
Trains: Catch the 10.20 from Brighton, arrives at Glynde at 10.37. Trains back to Brighton are at 53 minutes past the hour.
Sunday 23 April
Upper Beeding c 25 miles Palace Pier to Palace Pier – adjust for your own starting point
Time for one of our own 'spring classics' which we did at about the same time of year in both 2004 and 2005. If the rest of this write-up sounds a bit familiar it's because I've borrowed much of it from last year.
Meet 10.30 by Palace Pier. If you live at the Hove end I suggest joining us near the King Alfred – outside Marocco’s café on the seafront where the cycle track goes round the houses. We can wait for you there if you're going to be late – as long as I know. Phone me before 10.10 on 682133 or after that on my mobile number 07787528433. We'll pass (or stop for a coffee at) Carats Café and take the usual route over the locks and through the quieter streets to the Toll Bridge. Then –unless it's waterlogged like on New Year’s Day 2005 the Coastal Link track to Bramber with lunch at the Bridge at Upper Beeding – in the garden if it's warm enough. For the return, as before we'll cross onto the Coombes Road near Botolphs and then go to Shoreham Airport for tea.
Points of interest
After the seafront and Shoreham Harbour we'll be passing near a number of medieval churches – including the two Romanesque-Gothic Transitional ones in Shoreham: St Mary de Haura and St Nicholas. Near the latter where we'll join the Coastal Link along the track of the old railway line, there's a very good view across the river of Lancing College Chapel, described by Ian Nairn in The Buildings of England as expressing perfectly 'that elusive dream of the Gothic Revival'. At Bramber there's the ruins of the castle and what's left of St Mary's 15th century house and on the way back more survivals from the Middle Ages (as in the parish churches at Botolphs and (my favourite) the tiny 11th century one at Coombes before we get at least a distant glimpse of the terminal at Shoreham Airport which was used in at least one episode of Poirot to impersonate a Croyden airport and appeared as Bucharest airport in the Fortunes of War.
The Last Ride - Jim's report; photos by Neil
Sunday 26 March
Haywards Heath, Horsted Keynes, Lindfield
There were only four of us for the ride on 26 March – Jeff, Joyce, Neil and myself. Sheila was in hospital (get well soon, Sheila!), Ian was away somewhere and presumably everyone else was either carrying out mothers-day duties or forgot to put their clocks on.
Jim, Neil, Joyce and Jeff
Heading northwards out of Haywards Heath, we left the busy Balcombe Road to take a brief look at Borde Hill Gardens and then headed for Ardingly, taking a bridleway through the College grounds and posing for a photo in front of the impressive buildings.
On the way to Ardingly, I had noticed the tell-tale architecture of an old railway station, next to a bridge – a sure sign that this was the old Ardingly Station, originally part of a branch line from Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes. The station is now the headquarters of a stone and aggregate company, and marks the end of the line; the company's trains, which leave the main line at Copyhold Junction (which we had passed over earlier in the ride) are now the only ones the village ever sees. It always seems a shame that so many branch lines were closed down by Beeching in the 1960s, especially since very little alternative use has been found for the land. However, a little later in the ride we came across a splendid example of a line that was rescued from Beeching’s clutches – the Bluebell Line – and even saw a steam train go over the bridge in front of us as we neared Horsted Keynes Station. From this point on, the trains were never far away, and we often heard their whistles and saw (and smelt!) the steam.
The Bluebell Line
A mile or so north-east of the station, we saw a wonderful sight – a field full of tiny lambs and their mothers! And as if this were not a sufficient sign of spring, Jeff spotted a clump of primroses by the side of the road, and we also saw catkins and daffodils. It won't be long now before the time of year when the Bluebell Line lives up to its name.
Turning off the road towards Broadhurst Manor, we came across Carla Lane's animal sanctuary, 'Animaline' (www.carlalane.com/animaline/index.html) and saw an ostrich, several goats and ponies and lots of small feathered creatures. If there had been a collection box I expect we would have made a donation to this worthy cause, but instead the sanctuary had to be content with Neil's apple core, which went to the first goat to reach us – a handsome beast with a lovely light brown coat and impressive horns and beard.
The plan had been to have lunch at the Green Man in Horsted Keynes village, but we hadn't reckoned with the Special Mother's Day Menu – a set menu at £12.50, take it or leave it. We left it (to those local residents who can presumably afford such prices) and instead made do with a drink and a packet of Hula Hoops each, which Jeff had thoughtfully brought along and shared with us along with some chocolates.
Lindfield was the next place on our route of any size, so we decided to get lunch there. However, after a last-minute diversion to avoid a hill, we found that our way was barred by a locked gate with barbed wire along the top and a big sign saying 'No Right of Way'. Hmmm, we thought, someone is trying to tell us something here; but as the only alternative was a very muddy path, I'm afraid we climbed the gate, handed the bikes over and made for the road on the other side of the farmyard. And we got away with it, give or take a mild rebuke from a man with a wheelbarrow. It was only after we had crossed the yard that we noticed the place was called 'Hangman's Acre'!
Arriving in Lindfield, we managed to find a table in the third pub we tried, and squeezed in between the mothers and their families to enjoy a well-deserved lunch. While I read the paper, Joyce and Neil were poring over a map and plotting, so I think there are more treats in store for future rides!
It was not until the final leg of the journey – back to Haywards Heath – that the rain which had been threatening us all afternoon finally took hold, and it was four rather bedraggled but happy individuals who arrived under the protecting cover of the station forecourt. Jeff, Joyce and I took the train, but poor Neil had to ride back to Hassocks in it. We were grateful to him for planning such an interesting ride, and hope he didn’t get too wet on the way home.