Dear fellow members and friends
10 July 2006
Volunteers? 2nd Try.
To date no one has offered to organise the ride on 3 September. It may seem quite a while in the future but in fact it will be (or should be) the 2nd one following the two listed below. Jim's organising the ride on 23 July (Thanks Jim).
Anyone willing and able to take on 3 September?
The Next Rides
Sunday 23 July
Horsham station – St Leonards Forest – Colgate – Slaugham – Staplefield – Balcombe station. c 18 miles
Terrain: 15 miles on hard surface, 3 miles on bridleways or dirt tracks. Mostly flat, some hills but we can get off and walk – no point in struggling, particularly as it is not a long ride and so we have plenty of time. If wet, some parts may be too muddy but there are alternative routes available.
Refreshment opportunities: Lunch probably at the Dragon at Colgate, or alternatively at the Wheatsheaf at Plummers Plain (a bit noisy though), or even the Victory Inn at Staplefield. All have a good selection of good food, and good beer. Tea at the Balcombe Tea Rooms.
Trains: 10.16 (Bedford train – aka First Capital Connect) from Brighton to Three Bridges (arriving 10.40), then 10.52 from Three Bridges to Horsham, arriving 11.04. (No change of platform at Three Bridges). Returning probably on the 16.23 from Balcombe, arriving Brighton 16.50 (a return to Horsham will cover this journey).
We will set off at 11.15 from the DOWN SIDE entrance to Horsham Station – the opposite side to the ticket office. If you end up travelling by any other train, turn right at the top of the stairs and go to the end; try to resist the temptation to use the lift, as it will bring you out on the wrong side of the station and you will then have to ride round to the correct side via a very busy “B” road. Strong arms will be available to help you with your bike on the stairs.
Points of Interest:
1. St Leonards Forest
One of six great forests which in the 13th century covered a tenth of the area of the Weald. Many trees were cut down in the 16th century to feed the iron furnaces, and it was reported to be a 'vast unfrequented place' where serpents were said to roam freely. Luckily there are still quite a few trees left, and we will be taking advantage of a substantial bridleway to get right away from the road. On the practice ride I spotted a deer, and thought I heard a woodpecker – or was it just tree branches rubbing together? – but definitely no serpents.
2. Hammer Ponds
The Weald was the cradle of the British iron industry in the 16th century – as it had been in Roman times – but now with the advantage of blast furnaces and immigrant French labour. To work the huge bellows and forge hammers, streams had to be dammed and diverted to provide a sufficient head of water. The resulting hammer ponds are the most obvious remaining relic of the Wealden iron industry, and we shall see several of these on our ride.
I'm no expert on churches, but I think the 11th century St Mary's at Slaugham is worth a short visit. It has been restored and added to over the years, and one can see parts which date back to the 11th, 13th, 17th and 19th centuries. Behind the church is a 600 year old yew tree, and a short walk away are the ruins of Slaugham Place, an Elizabethan manor house.
Sunday 6 August
Pevensey Levels – Eastern Side c 20 miles
Apart from very popular rides – like the Chichester Harbour one – which I put in the programme every year, I try find routes that are at least a variation on what we have done before – even though many bits of them inevitably cover familiar ground. Here's one.
Heading east after the first 100 yards of the Cuckoo Trail, we head via Shepham Lane and Glynleigh Road to Rickney and soon after take a mile-long track across to Russells in the Marsh and Church Acre Bridge. A stretch of (often) busier road takes us up to Wartling where we can lose any traffic by taking the Horse Bridge lane that brings us out near Hooe.
We liked the Red Lion at Hooe Common last summer, so we'll try it again for lunch. We can return by taking the B2095, crossing the A27 very carefully and staying with it (as far as possible on a bit of footpath as far as Middle Bridge (about half a mile) and then the traffic-free track beside it (but mercifully hidden by trees and shrubs) for about a mile and a half down to Pevensey roundabout. From there we can make our way back via Rickney and the familiar lanes back to the Cuckoo Trail at Summer Hill where a tea-stop at the Old Loom Mill is definitely an option.
Catch the 10.20 at Brighton Station or meet at Polegate Station at 10.49 (direct train). Trains back are at 2 minutes past the hour (with change at Lewes) or 42 minutes (direct).
The Last Ride
9 July 2006 – Jim's report
Annie, Fred, Jeff, John and I met Ian at Chichester station. We got off the road almost immediately thanks to the canal which runs southwards from here towards the sea, the first of many watery themes for our ride. (And none of these involved rain, by the way, although we had all taken appropriate clothing because of the overcast start to the day).
Annie, Jim, Jeff, Ian and John at the station
Cycling by the canal
Leaving the canal, we were in open country and heading for Pagham Harbour via North Mundham and Sidlesham. Part of this route involved a path across some open ground with a notice decreeing 'NO BIKES' due to the presence of ground-nesting birds. Ian (who had done this ride before, of course) advised us to get off and walk if we saw anyone approaching; privately, the rest of us agreed that if challenged we would simply blame Ian. Such is the solidarity of the Clarion movement! Luckily we were not challenged, though it did look as if the crows were about to mob us at one point.
On the No Cycling bit
Crab and Lobster closed for Major Refurbishment!
Admiring Pagham Harbour nature reserve
Arriving at Pagham Harbour … Disaster! The Crab & Lobster pub where we had been planning to have lunch was closed, due to 'Major Refurbishments'. I resolved to have a quiet word with the Major next time I see him at the Club; meanwhile Ian was wrestling with the wind, which clearly did not want him to read his map. He won, and found us an alternative hostelry – The Bell Inn at Birdham, to which we repaired at once.
The Bell Inn at Birdham
John and Ian tuck into their puddings
After a nice lunch and much discussion of future rides (including the possibility of a (partly power-assisted) odyssey to Hereford next Easter for the national Clarion get-together) Ian led us to Itchenor where our route was blocked by several million litres of churning, undulating H2O. Faithfully and unquestioningly we let him lead us onto the similarly-undulating, narrow jetty where we waited with our bikes, scouring the horizon for the ferry, which Ian promised us would, like Godot, be along in a minute. While we waited, I noticed an eerie but beautiful sound, as though a steel band were playing on the distant shore, or (more likely) as though each of the hundreds of sailing boats moored in the harbour had its own set of wind chimes.
On the jetty, with Fred at the front
The ferryman brings down the bikes
After perhaps ten or fifteen minutes, the Itchenor-Bosham Ferry (which is actually called The Itchy Bosom!) arrived and deposited a family with an inordinately large amount of luggage, one item of which – a cushion – fell into the sea and began to float away. Undaunted, the ferryman started his engine, chased after it and rescued it, to huge applause from the onlookers. It was now our turn, and with all six bikes just about safely stowed and us squeezed in next to them, we set off across the choppy creek. At the other side there was not even a jetty – but the plucky little boat simply rode up onto the beach to allow its plucky owner to unload us and our bikes, each £2 lighter but grateful for the experience (well, all except Jeff who had looked a little uneasy when the boat listed at 45°).
Jeff is happily back on terra firma
A Verrecchia's Italian ice cream at Bosham
Tea was at the 'Mariners' tea room at Bosham, and then we had an ice cream. Bosham Church apparently features in the Bayeux Tapestry, and it is also where King Canute's daughter is buried. The village is charming, and has very high doorsteps to keep flood waters out; but as the lintels are at the usual height, it appears that Bosham is also a community of midgets!
Deciding that Bosham station was for wimps, we braved a busy A-road back into Chichester, where an impressive network of cycle paths took over and delivered us safely to the station; en route, the Centurion Way beckoned us and we promised to return soon.