|Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club|
Reports from Winter 2004/05
Sunday 13 March
The second Sunday in March provided a good day for the ride from Hassocks. Taking in mostly lightly trafficked lanes around Burgess Hill and Hassocks, we could always see the Downs, and sometimes looked across at almost the same level! We crossed the A23 more than once, and although if we listened hard the traffic could be heard behind the larks, the overwhelming impression was of quiet country.
Hassocks staion with Sue, Joyce and Liz – Ian's photo
The former Kings Head at Albourne – Ian's photo
Checking out the Bolney Stage – Ian's photo
Lunch and an open fire at the Eight Bells in Bolney made it a good day out for the four of us: Sue Pringle, Joyce, Ian and myself.
Looking out of the window soon after I woke up, the day looked far from promising in spite of a weather forecast that comprised 'sunny periods' as well as 'chilly'. Everything outside had turned into a 'winter wonderland' and the snow was still falling steadily.
The South Downs from the train
Joyce and Fred must have had a similar impression. But we don't give up easily – and by 10 o'clock things were looking decidedly better. Even so we nearly had to cancel when Fred heard an announcement at Brighton station which seemed to suggest that there were no trains running east of Lewes. However, a train to Polegate – and no further – somehow materialised, and I met him and Joyce at that station. The train took about ten minutes to arrive from the moment it came in sight – there was some sort of power failure apparently. Which makes you wonder what they would do if we had bad weather.
Joyce and Ian in the snow
As we set off for the first 100 yards down the Cuckoo Trail before taking a sharp right turn, it started snowing – but it didn't last long and anyway it's much better than cycling in rain. Within minutes it was a nice sunny day – and stayed that way as we followed the almost traffic-free route to Pevensey. Then it started snowing again.
Fred at Pevensey Castle
We walked through the grounds of the Roman fort/Norman castle starting off in a bit of a blizzard which changed back to 'sunny period' by the time we got half way. This may be evident from Fred's photos.
The Royal Oak and Castle Inn
It was now 12 and we decided to stop – for a warm as much as anything – at The Royal Oak and Castle Inn (only one pub!) just outside the castle entrance. A group of morris dancers - the ribbon-decked, blacked face and sturdy cudgel variety – then materialised, demonstrating if proof were needed that the three of us were not the only lunatics who had risked the weather. One of them explained that they were from Eastbourne – but had adopted a Shropshire/Welsh Borders tradition because they thought it was 'more fun than the Cotswold'. So there you have it. Fred was busy with his camera before we departed.
Joyce and Ian watch the Old Star Morris
On the road down to Normans Bay we were now really out on the Levels and the wind was very cold – and blowing in the wrong direction. The Star – closed for renovation last time we were there last year – was now busy with people having lunch.
The Star Inn boasts the biggest adventure playground in the south
We joined them and decided to leave the Hooe/Wartling bit of the planned route for another day. We set off back down to the Pevensey island, after a brief diversion to check out the Martello tower on the Normans Bay seafront, then took the designated cycle route as far as Rickney. Then we drifted along in the sunshine with a helpful wind behind us (mostly) across the Down Level joining the Cuckoo Trail at Summer Hill and stopping almost immediately for a welcome cuppa at the Loom Handicrafts tea-room – a favourite since our very first ride last year. Only 20 miles but very enjoyable ones – but who'd have thought it at 7.30 that morning?
The Old Loom Mill tearooms
Fred and Joyce add:- We had 20 minutes to wait at Polegate with locked waiting room, met a couple of Bricycles members on train at Glynde!
13 February 2005
The Hassocks circular took us to the heart of 'horseyculture' territory, with a trip past paddocks, fields and a race course, all under the shadow of the South Downs and Ditchling Beacon. The weather was bright but cold, and there had been a downpour that morning. Joyce and I met at Brighton Station, where the queues for the tickets office seem to be getting longer. We met Ian (sporting a new head warmer) at Hassocks station and set off towards Hurstpierpoint hoping for a glimpse of Greta Scacchi's house, but, as we didn't know where it was, made do with Danny Park, an Elizabethan/Georgian pile over the fields in the distance. Whistling 'Danny Boy', we pedalled on to Clayton, enjoying views of the Jack and Jill windmills and the castellated Tunnel Cottage (1840), perched on top of a tunnel entrance on the London-Brighton line.
Joyce and Ian take in the view
At Clayton we consulted Ian's copy of Pevsner while waiting for the service at the church of St John the Baptist to end. Inside, the walls are covered by faded but graphic wall paintings depicting the Last Judgement (c.1100) and there's a Brighton-built organ similar to the one we saw at St Botolph's.
St John the Baptist, Clayton
Fred consults Ian's Pevsner
Then we cycled east with the looming South Downs to our right and wide open spaces to the north on our left. At the foot of the Beacon we debated briefly about taking a detour up that mountain but decided to leave that pleasure for another day!
To the Beacon? Maybe not today!
We hurried past the 'over-restored' St Martins at Westmeston and the fruity smell of Plumpton Agricultural College to stop at the Half Moon, just as a few snow flakes began to fall.
View to the north
The South Downs
The Half Moon, Plumpton
At lunch and a welcome glass of Harvey's Old, we were delighted to be joined by Richard and Sharen, who had missed the train because of the long queue at the ticket office and cycled straight to the pub from Hassocks.
Fred, Joyce, Richard and Sharen
The second half of the ride was much more suburban, through Plumpton Green, skirting Burgess Hill, and through Keymer. We stopped briefly at a memorial to the Polish Spitfire pilots of RAF Chailey outside The Plough pub.
RAF Chailey memorial
The little tiring hills seemed to get more frequent and we had to race to make the hourly train, no time to bid farewell to Ian, and upon which we met a couple of Bricycles riders who had been to the Worth Way. Failed to see Lutyens' Plumpton Place and Oldland Windmill – maybe because we had our heads down against the icy wind! About 18 miles.
Sunday 30 January
Seven of us, Ian our leader, Joyce, Fred and Sue and three new recruits, Tessa, Helen and Richard, arrived at Berwick Station for a fourteen mile round trip along quiet country lanes. Passing Arlington reservoir towards Chalvington and then on to Golden Cross, the route was consistently flat, providing a gentle easy ride. As each of us on the train (not Ian, fortunately) had tried to convince the others we were more unfit than they were, this was just as well!
Outside Berwick station: Helen, Joyce, Ian, Sue, Tessa and Richard
The weather was dry, cloudy and mild enough for Joyce to wear fingerless gloves for the morning ride.
The Lamb Inn, Ripe
At Golden Cross we stopped to look at the pub, but decided it was a bit early for lunch, and moved on to Ripe where we had a tasty meal at The Lamb Inn. There the group began by regretting the lost art of conversation, and went on to converse on a wide range of subjects with a particularly informative bout on politics. So in the Clarion, at least, discussion is still alive.
In the afternoon we followed the line of the Downs, cycling along to their left, and keeping them in sight for several miles. The day was slightly dull with cloud and no sun to liven the fields so this vision of height and space lifted the landscape, offering us perspective - there was a world beyond these moving green fields.
Ian leads us down quiet country roads
Ian had designed this ride for maximum culinary satisfaction, and soon after leaving Ripe we arrived in Selmeston and were given the option of stopping for tea at Silletts Cottage restaurant. There were no dissenters. We settled into the comfortable front room of the old farmhouse for afternoon tea.
Time for tea
Merangues with butterscotch sauce for someone!
It was difficult to get back on the bikes after all this food and drink, but we managed it, cycling a short distance back to Berwick station to catch train or car back home. Arriving a bit early for the train some of us went for a short spin to see the Cormorants on Arlington reservoir.
What a satisfying way to spend a day! Thank you Ian for organising this ride.
And thank you – and everyone else – for coming. I can only add that when Joyce went to check she found that we'd arrived at the Golden Cross before opening time – which throws a slightly different light on our restraint!
Report of 16 January ride by Fred
The weather was promising in Brighton – mild, no rain, even a spot of sun – and there was a good turn-out too: Joyce leading, Richard and Sharen, regulars from last Summer, Sheila and me, Fred. Ian had the day off. The journey to Three Bridges (where are those three bridges?) was uneventful, apart from the Thameslink train having nowhere to put bikes. From Three Bridges station we followed Adam Trimingham's advice to walk our bikes along the pavement, under the bridge, and onto Station Hill (hill! nobody told me about a hill! actually it wasn't much of a gradient).
Sheila, Joyce, Sharen and Richard
Soon we were at the beginning of Worth Way, a mainly flat slightly undulating old railway track, mostly lacking in views and modern sculptures. As we left the first section of the Way, Sheila had to call it a day and Joyce escorted her back. The rest of us took a break to examine St Nicholas church, Worth, a fine saxon specimen with a 1610 gallery and friendly congregation (a well attended service was about to start at 11.30).
St Nicholas church, Worth
The well signposted (now that it is part of a Sustrans route) Worth Way continued east, passing an old railway station at Rowfant, some ponds, and making detours through Crawley suburbia.
Almost at East Grinstead I discovered that my bottom bracket had come loose and managed to get it screwed back in by hand (must remember to bring tools next time, though my all-in-one bike tool back home was obviously an old imperial one and was no use either!).
Is it supposed to be so colourful?
We negotiated the interesting roundabout, complete with cycle lanes, near East Grinstead station and began to search for a pub. East Grinstead looks more olde worlde than I'd imagined, with lots of half-timbered buildings.
Roundabout, complete with cycle lanes
We chained up at The Dorset Arms (Greene King), which seemed to have an Ozzy theme inside, and had lunch – Joyce had a very eccentric (Australian?) house salad of green beans and mashed potato (photo available on request).
The Dorset Arms
We'd intended to explore part of the Forest Way, but we were out of condition after the Xmas excesses and lack of exercise so decided to head back. We'll do the Forest Way another day. The way back seemed more downhill than the way there, and we got a brief glimpse of sun. Back at East Grinstead station we had to struggle up some steps to get onto the platform (the platform we'd arrived on had a ramp). Another Thameslink train took us back to Brighton.
New Year's Day Ride – to Bob's at Upper Beeding
Catherine, Ian, Joyce, John, Sheila, Ann and Fred outside the Palace Pier
January 1st – weather not too promising and idleness over Christmas meant that the enthusiasm level was not high either. Ian's trip started off with a puncture on the way down (true the town was strewn with glass everywhere). Whilst he and John dealt with that the rest of us 'slow' ones made off for Carat’s café knowing they would catch up in a twinkling. There were seven of us, with the welcome addition of Catherine, Ann and John.
Outside Carat's: Sheila, Joyce, Ann, John, Ian and Fred – Catherine took the photo
The overcast sky cleared at Carat’s café and we had the pleasure of sun, sea and sky. And also, of course, a cup of steaming tea and (for some) toast. As usual the café was full and bustling. By that time the others had caught up and then we were off across the lock to Southwick, where some of us took a little detour to pass the very pretty church and others somehow disappeared. We did, however, meet up before the Downs Link. It was very muddy, which made for slow going and by the time we got to the bridge we had had enough and made the rest of the journey to Bob's by road, ably guided by Ian.
Into Bob's already bulging house
There we found conviviality, hospitality and loads of cyclists… Every sort from long distance aficionados, who blithely talked of Edinburgh to London as a starting point … to Bricycles members and, of course, the Clarionets (what is the collective noun ???).
Bob, Colette, Sue and Ian – Fred's camera had steamed up!
John & Ann left early to cycle back. We had already decided we would get the train at Shoreham so as not to be cycling in the dark. Even so the trip back was – at least for me – testing. Along the road (no question of going back through the mud), and the sky was now overcast with a sharp drizzling rain. So I was very glad to see Shoreham Station coming up. Sheila was spared that part because she had gladly accepted an offer of a lift from Sue Bullock – which meant Ian cycled with us to Shoreham.
Standing room only at Bob's
Home very wet but very satisfied, a good way to spend New Year’s Day – Cheers Bob and Colette and a Happy New Year to all…
Saturday 11 December
Joyce and Shiela with parked white van
So I met up with Sheila and Joyce outside the Racehill pub at the bottom of Elm Grove and at the start of the newish Lewes Road cycle route, heading North. Almost immediately we encountered parked cars and vans on the cycle lane, which required us to veer out into the heavy traffic! Some parts of Lewes Road have loading bays, with the cycle lane between them and the road, which works better.
A good start!
At the Vogue Gyratory we dismounted and walked along the route that Joyce thought might make a good cycle lane, then at last we were on the open road! We passed the Preston Barracks development on the left, then various bits of Brighton University, Wild Park and after the Coldean Lane lights, moved onto the shared pavement. Then it was past Stanmer Park, into Sussex University and round the ring road and up our first and only hill of the day. Across the main road we caught a glimpse of the proposed Seagulls stadium site. After a bit of off-road, we entered the village of Falmer and were greeted by Ian outside The Swan Inn.
Ian, Joyce, Sheila, Sue, Brian and Mary inside The Swan Inn
Fred, Joyce, Sheila, Ian, Brian and Mary
More shots from Ian – with Terry and Andie (hiding)
Inside were Sue Bullock and Brian and Mary Hutton. I confess to be quite relieved that there wasn't a full Xmas menu in operation, but there were some fine real ales and – best of all – it was a smoke-free zone. We were then joined by Bob who had also cycled, and, just as we were about to be chucked out at 3pm, Andie and Terry arrived by car. The way back to Brighton was thankfully downhill and uneventful. Approx 7 miles round trip.
Outside The Swan Inn
The shy one is Andie!
Ian adds: It was nice to see everyone – and I was especially glad that Brian and Mary who don't cycle any more and live in Worthing and therefore had only met me previously were able to come and get to know at least some of the current Clarion gang. Look out for Brian's cycle race reports in the Argus – usually on Thursdays.
Fred concentrates on the journey there and back – quite understandable for someone who along with Sheila and Joyce made the effort to cycle there. So several bonus points to each of them ('and points mean...') but the (notional I'm afraid) prize for the participant who came the furthest by bike goes of course to Bob. (I suggested to the other three 'real cyclists' that they might like to return to Brighton via Bob's at Upper Beeding to keep him company but, strange to say, there were no takers. I'd have gone like a shot of course but I've got a puncture in my front tyre and didn't have my bike with me! Gerroff! It's no more unbelievable than Santa Claus and we all believe in him don't we?
Fred forgot to mention that he used his digital camera to good effect – not only at the pub (photos will be appearing on the webpage) but also in recording some of the only-too-typical parking in cycle lanes/on double yellow lines that makes the local authority's efforts in Lewes Road a bit of a nonsense at the moment. I understand he will be sending these to the appropriate places and asking what's proposed to be done about it.
Bob wears his Clarion shirt with pride!
Fred also forgot to mention that Bob was not satisfied with riding such a short distance, so he handicapped himself, race horse style, with two bottles of Fair Trade South African wine one of which he gave to me, which was gratefully received if undeserved, and the other was awarded to Sheila as the most consistent ride participant (other than office-holders who were by general consent excluded). So thanks again, Bob.
Last Ride of the Year!
As we arrived at the Lamb at Ripe the local yeomanry were putting up a large Christmas tree on the little traffic island (if that's what you'd call it) outside. Sadly, I only remembered that I had my camera with me when it was too late – so no picture for Fred to scan in later in the 'Reports' section.
John Hopper outside the Lamb at Ripe
John and I had very nice bowls of excellent parsnip and honey soup to sustain us – and when I ordered a pint of Old and the barmaid (good salesperson) told me a tale about it being traditional to have a small glass of port by way of 'tops' I'm afraid succumbed to temptation.
Pity we didn't have more people – though John will be coming to Bob's on New Year's Day so you can meet him there. It's a really nice and easy little route, so I shall 'recycle' it – in both senses - early in 2005. Hope to see you then.
Sunday 21 November
The intention of yesterday's (21 November) cycle was to have a very easy, short ride along the seafront, to encourage people who had not used their bikes for years, to get out. We even started at a fairly civilised hour of 10.30. In fact, it was wet and overcast and only four intrepid cyclists turned up. The first thing we did was have our photo taken. The most remarkable thing about us was the variety of headgear. We knew that winter had officially arrived as Fred swapped his panama hat for a trilby. Joyce wore her winter beany hat. Ian continued to wear his Clarion cap and I wore a cycle helmet (circa 1980). We cycled along the track on the front, which is now Sustrans route 2.
The Shoreham port road is always impressive, with seaplants growing on one side of the road and vast heaps of useful stuff on the other. There was no traffic and we were cycling peacefully along when we came upon Pudsey and some children doing a 10mile walk for Children in Need.
After a chat we finally arrived at Carat's Cafe for the traditional fryup. We were rather wet but dried out rapidly.
We were tucking in happily when along came Chris with his six year old son Finn. He had also brought some Lego pieces. After a second cup of tea we ambled back to Brighton. It was a pity that more people did not get out for the cycle. Cycling in gentle rain has a charm of its own.