|Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club|
Reports from Spring 2007
Sunday 13 May
The weather forecast threatened rain - and lots of it - so it was no surprise to find just Joyce at Brighton station. I think Ian was secretly hoping no one would alight from the train at Hassocks so he could go home, but there were three of us, so onwards. After a French woman took our photo, we headed through Hurstpierpoint and eventually turned northwards to cross the A23 near Sayers Common (as per Ian's description of the ride), along quiet country roads and through the pretty village of Blackstone.
Ian, Joyce and Fred at Hassocks station
Ian consults planning notice predicting temp closure of our route
View from the Lanterne Rouge
With the South Downs in view coming into Fulking, the rain started to tip it down, as we say Up North, so we decided to try the Shepherd and Dog below Devils Dyke. Alas, what with the weather (we usually sit in the garden) and an MG rally, there was no room in the inn, but after a brief discussion we decided to camp out under a smokers' gazebo for a ciabatta and pint, as the rain roared onto the canvas above our heads and periodically gushed onto the peripheral tables. I was volunteered to write up the ride – hence its brevity, as I was constantly playing catch-up with Ian and Joyce so wasn't paying much attention to the route!
Another view from the Lanterne Rouge!
Joyce and ian dry out in the pub gazebo
After lunch it started to ease off so we headed back up the hill (past the Ruskin memorials) towards Poynings and along the sheep-lined 'Equestrian Route' until it joined the cycle route besides the A23. I thought I was hearing voices during this part of the ride, but it must have been the tannoy from a gymkhana nearby! Then it was back over the main road to Hurstpierpoint.
Plenty of water in the stream
Looking back at the Equestrian Route (path on right)
Peacocks shelter from the rain at Washbrooks farm (top right!)
As we couldn't make the hourly train without lots of effort, we stopped off for tea and scones at Washbrook farm, watching out for 'free-range children'. No cheap quails eggs this time. We said goodbye to Ian at Hassocks and by the time we got back to Brighton it was blue skies and sunshine again! Another exhilarating ride! Cheers Ian.
Sunday 29 April - Upper Beeding
Ian met up with Joyce, Roger, Sheila and Suzanne on a bright sunny morning that had brought the crowds and the traffic out in force. Unfortunately Sheila was able to come only as far as Marocco's café with us. but then you lose some and you win some... Richard was there waiting to join the happy band. A gentle pedal along the Kingsway cycle path and South Basin Road brought as to the locks where a flurry of little craft were just scampering off to the open sea as a cargo boat was lumbered in. A fine photo opportunity for Joyce who could not resist the colours and the movement of the scene.
Suzanne, Roger, Sheila, Joyce, Ian and Richard
Watching a big Russian ship coming in at the lock
The Shoreham allotments were in fine flower as we pushed on toward the Downslink path. All the lumps and bumps we know and love are still there, especially on the track just north of the old cement works. After taking our lives in our hands crossing the high-speed Steyning by-pass just outside Bramber, we were back on tarmac-firma to wind our way through the village of Bramber into Upper Beeding, over the rickety bridge and into The Bridge. We were delighted to see that several other customers had evidently arrived by bike, and even more delighted to meet Caroline, Simon and their little daughter – the Beeding-wing of Clarion, so an excellent lunch was spiced with excellent conversation.
The winding road ...
Another winding way ...
We eventually dragged ourselves away from the sunny uplands of Beeding to retrace our 'steps' as far as the Botolphs Road (Ian had a cunning plan to avoid the hill just outside Beeding, for which all were grateful). A lovely road to bowl along despite a couple of upwardly-inclined inclines and then it was over the A27 and a quick dash round the perimeter of Shoreham Airport. We were cyclists with a mission – afternoon tea. Being an adventurous lot we made the bold decision to try Terminal Two. Coffee and loos OK. Service somewhat lack-a-daisical. Décor banal inside... but what a view outside. Joyce leapt to use her camera again.
We could see from the wind-sock that the return leg of our journey was going to be a bit of a harder grind, but re-invigorated with our afternoon tea, and protected from the wind by going through the back streets of Shoreham, we made good progress back to Southwick, Portslade (so exciting that Terry Garoghan felt moved to write a song about it) and so back to the coast at Wish Road. In time honoured fashion we peeled off as near to our various homes as possible. And then, at the Palace Pier, there was one... the man we thank for having organised such an excellent day. Thanks, Ian.
Suzanne (photos by Joyce)
Sunday 15 April
Fred, Linda, Sue, Joyce and her great nephew Roman, from Paris, took the scenic route via Littlehampton by train, meeting car-borne Ian and Mick and Anne at Chichester station. I was feeling guilty about our carbon footprint, but that was mitigated later on when Fred and I were entirely surrounded by Porsches and 4x4s on the bendy, picturesque little road (B2178) around Fishbourne. Indeed they nearly all bumped into each other when Fred's gears stuck on an uphill bend and the Porsche behind me overtook us both on a blind corner, just missing oncoming vehicle. We'd have been a sandwich!
Ian, Mick, Anne, Sue, Joyce, Roman and Linda at Chichester (spire of cathedral on far left)
We started out much safer on the Centurion Way leading straight from the station. Joyce pointed out the cathedral to Roman and we enjoyed the roman legionaries sculptures on the Sustrans trail, looking like characters from Asterix, plus the peace and perfect weather. The B road had sparkling brooks beside them, clear enough for the Hampshire watercress beds to the west and bluebells masses enough for June.
Sue had already succumbed to buying a sandwich after the 70 minute train trip and as we neared Dell Quay hunger pangs arose. The Crown and Anchor has prime position on the Quay with outside tables overlooking the sea bay and island or peninsular. We sampled several dishes on the fishy menu between us, basking in the sunshine, as Ian reported to us on the recent Clarion Meet that he and Sue had attended, as our delegate. Congratulations to Bob Harber who did brilliantly in the race and cycled all the way there, most of it in one day. Thanks to all 3 for keeping our section in touch with the mother ship. Ian gave Linda an introduction to Clarion's origins, especially as it related to the main business of the Meet and the resolutions.
Mick outside the Crown and Anchor
Joyce and I lingered a bit too long slapping on the sun cream and while discussing the local election campaign sailed past the other six at the crucial turn for Salterns Copse and Mick had to hare after us to reset us on the trail. Now we entered the AONB and ancient woodland, oaks, hazel with catkins, both hawthorn & blackthorn in blossom, bluebells, and birdsong = delightful.
Setting off again
Through the woods
Joyce and Sue keep an eye on their boats
Across the lock
Salterns Marina, by contrast, was thronged with yachts and people. We filed over the swing, ziz-zag bridge, meeting other cyclists and relaxed and happy walkers and joining the road by the start of Chichester Canal; on one side a large car-park for the large cars and on the other - the intriguing houseboats, in all their variety, among the waterlilies, weeping willows and wildfowl.
On the canal
Chichester Ship Canal
The next section of the canal wended narrowly between nettle patches and high water, thus needing attentive cycling, but was thronged with birdlife; a swan's nest with graceful occupant taking after-lunch nap, then dozens of baby coots and moorhens with their respective parents, with their red or white bills, and other nesting birds that could have been curlew. The area has international importance with SSSI, SPA (EU special protection area) and Ramsar designation (wetland of international importance) but for cyclists needed care, as could be slippy and stony. We all arrived safely and dry at the tea-shop at the end of the canal, run by volunteers who served super cakes and tea cheaply.
What a great day out in a very special and precious area, seeing, hearing and smelling our local flora and fauna heritage, without polluting it, especially those who travelled by train. Thanks so much to Ian, for planning and guiding the ride and to Clarion crew for all the fun of the trip.
Sunday 1 April 2007
Palace Pier: Ian, Fred, Sue, Roger and Suzanne just made it by 10.30. Marocco's café: Tessa and Angela reading and waiting. Happless chappie innocently drinking his coffee on terrace: 'Would you take our photo,' dixit Fred. What choice did he have?
Suzanne, Angela, Tessa, Sue, Roger, Fred and Ian outside Marocco's cafe
Tail wind. Pedal, pedal, pedal to Carrat's Café. Mass passive resistance… to the temptation of coffee – so it was on to the jutty-out bit (I think that's the technical term) of the east side of the harbour. 'Oh look, there's a big boat coming in. Let's cross the locks before it gets there.' Dilly-dally round the locks. Big boat doesn't chug in to locks. Big boat turns round.
The view of the fort from the jutty-out bit
Just over the lock gates in time
Pedal, pedal, pedal. Into Shoreham. Over the un-rickety bridge onto Shoreham Beach – concrete is safe, but oh so ugly. We all sympathised with the huge banner demanding a new bridge. Sue has to leave. Then there were six. On to the west side of the harbour mouth. 'Oh look, there's a big boat coming in. Hang on! It's the same one we saw before.' Ah, the sweet mysteries of Channel shipping. Once round Fort Shoreham (sorry Ian, we never did discover the ruins of the searchlight tower 'to the west of the fort') and then off along the Shoreham beach coast road. Pedal, pedal, pedal.
Over the old footbridge
View of Shoreham harbour from the fort – Ian (or Tessa) is obscuring the power station chimney!
Shoreham Fort close up
Angela tests the Gaudi-esque seat
And two discoveries! A Gaudi-esque (or is that gaudy-esque) mosaic seat tucked away behind the Sailboarders' Club House and then, tucked in between sea and main road, the Widewater Lagoon. Sleepy lagoon? Not so. Dogs, walkers, cyclists (on the brand-new cycle way to Lancing), ducks and flamingos (OK, so the one and only flamingo was made out of plaster and was in a garden running down to the Lagoon, but it all added to the variety).
Brand-new cycle track
Pedal, pedal, pedal back eastward along the broad highway (aka: A27) and across the marshes to Shoreham Airport and lunch in the restaurant. New staff? New chef? Possibly. Potatoes fully cooked? Orders correct? No. Obliging staff? Tables promptly cleared? Yes – serving staff doing their best.
P..e..d..a..l.., p..e..d..a..l.., p..e..d..a..l.. (got the idea? we'd had a big lunch) into the wind through the 'banlieues' of Shoreham, into the purlieus of Portslade and finally into the haven of Hove where Tessa and Angela headed for home. Then there were four.
P…e…d...a...l.…, p...e...d...a...l..., p...e...d...a...l… along the Lawns. Roger, Suzanne and Fred peeled off for their respective abodes leaving Ian, the (then there was one) valiant soul who made it back to the starting point at Palace Pier. Many thanks, Ian, for you support and guidance throughout.