The Next Ride 23rd January, 2022

11 January 2022

Preston Park to Hove Park via Hurstpierpoint

We ride from Preston Park to the Beacon
(with an optional section through Stanmer Woods), but then turn left at the bottom of the hill and
proceed to Clayton, where we take New Way Lane to Hurstpierpoint. Here, after a brief look at the
”Children of the Fair” statues, we will have lunch at the Horse Inn. Then to Newtimber via the old
London road and an off-road path that may be a bit muddy.
After that, I am afraid that the law that “what comes down must go up” comes into play as we climb
back up to the top of the Downs. Anyone wanting to avoid that can instead take the NCN20 route to
Brighton, which is flat, but also noisy, smelly and boring, as it runs alongside the A23. The rest of us
will take a slightly different route from last time, turning right at Saddlescombe into the road shown
on the map as Summer Down. It still goes as high as the main road, but is much quieter. We can then
say hello to the ostrich and then whizz down the Dyke Railway trail to Hove.
Distance: 21 miles
Terrain: mostly hard surfaces, some off-road. Please note that the route has two hill climbs of approx 700ft and 550ft.

Start: 9.30 am in Preston Park, south end at junction of Preston Rd and Stanford Avenue.
The Horse has a heated marquee, which should be pretty Covid-secure, and we can book a table in
it, so I would like to know who is, or is thinking of, coming. (This does not commit you to coming – it
is just to get a general idea of numbers).

Led by Jim

The Last Ride 2nd January 2022

11 January 2022

Carats Cafe ride report

Although I was convinced that some sort of new year covid restrictions would affect our January 2nd ride to Carats Cafe, the government appears to be ignoring scientific advice and continuing with their herd immunity covid gamble with public health. For those of us still concerned about the pandemic, there was space outside Carats to eat our late breakfasts.

It was lucky the Sussex Nomads cyclists had decided to vacate their seats in time for those Clarionistas willing to sit inside. Those of us who opted for seating outside were fortunate to share our food with a group of friendly starlings. I might have to return to Carats before next year’s Clarion ride in order to greet the delightful starlings again.

I’ve uploaded a few photos from this year’s Carats visit to the Flickr link below.

January 2, 2022: New year Carats ride

Jim has already posted some photos on the Clarion Facebook group of his recce for the forthcoming Preston Park ride to Hove Park & Hurstpierpoint. I’m looking forward to joining him on January 23rd for the second Clarion ride of 2022.

The Next Ride 2nd January 2022

27 December 2021

Our Annual New Year Carats Cafe ride (meet Brighton Palace Pier, 10.30)

The Last Ride 12th December 2021

27 December 2021

Haywards Heath Circular

It was Sikka, Doris, Sally, Jim and Nick who gathered outside Haywards Heath station for Jim’s Haywards Heath circular ride on a pleasantly mild December morning.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

It didn’t take long for the cyclists to swap the suburbs of Haywards Heath for the scenic beauty of Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow Nature Reserve. We followed a surprisingly good cycle path to Cuckfield, where we decided to have a coffee break at the golf club. I was more interested in the Cuckfield Pet & Country Store, situated in front of the golf club, but sadly it was shut. I had already gulped down a cup of coffee on the train from Brighton to Haywards Heath, so opted for a lime and soda while glancing at The Observer’s ‘Scientists fear falling trust in Johnson could harm bid to curb Omicron surge’ headline.

After finishing our coffees and lime & soda, it was a short cycle ride to the lunch stop at the Bolney Stage pub. Our chosen pub stop seemed to have attracted a block booking of posho types, who appeared to have gathered for Sunday lunch. One of the fragments of conversation I overheard was: ‘Of course, we have the Carribean holiday carried over from last year to look forward to.’ Although there was enough space in the pub to avoid the bragging holidaymakers, I decided to sit outside with my festive meal of chips and mulled wine.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

The post-lunch route included some very confusing cycling signage, which signaled the road works and ride diversion required to take us back to Haywards Heath. If it hadn’t been for the diversion, we would probably not have seen an impressive triceratops dinosaur sculpture, constructed from old machine components, which was on the other side of the fence next to the bridleway. The sculpture reminded me of the creations Joe Rush and the Mutoid Waste Company have prepared for the Glastonbury Festival over many years.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

After leaving the dinosaur sculpture, there was an enjoyable off-road cycle ride through an autumnal landscape. The recent heavy rain had transformed the field near Ansty into a mud bath, which proved particularly difficult to navigate for the two heavier e-bikes belonging to Doris & Sikka. This was the least appealing part of our off-road ride, but it didn’t last very long. The ‘guard dogs’ who greeted us as we left the waterlogged path made a lot of noise for tiny dogs, but didn’t seem particularly threatening.

It was getting dark as we approached Haywards Heath station, after what had been an enjoyable winter solstice ride (despite the mud!). Thanks to Jim for organising.

Ride report by Nick

The Next Ride Sunday 12th December

6 December 2021

Haywards Heath Circular

Haywards Heath – Cuckfield – Slough Green – Hickstead – Ansty – Haywards Heath
This is a variant of a ride we have done several times before; road works have necessitated a
change to the return route.
From the suburbs of Haywards Heath we will go through Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow Nature Reserve, which has a good cycle path. We reach Cuckfield, after which we can have coffee at the golf club, and admire impressive views of Balcombe Viaduct. Turning south, we take the delightful Broxmead Lane, over the less-delightful A23, to our lunch stop at the Bolney Stage pub.
Leaving the pub, we encounter three very nice Clarionesque lanes: Buncton Lane, Stairbridge Lane and Jobs Lane, at the end of which we turn northwards along Bishopstone Lane, crossing and re-crossing the East Adur as it rushes westwards to join its sibling the West Adur near Henfield.
A short bridleway takes us to Cuckfield Road, where we join, in reverse, the route of a Haywards Heath to Shoreham ride we did in 2016. That ride, as anyone who participated will surely recall, involved us walking across a field near Ansty; nevertheless it is an official bridleway, and a very pretty route which only gets slightly muddy underwheel. A delightful tree-covered bridleway takes us into Copyhold Lane (not the one north of Haywards Heath) and then back to the station via another quiet lane. (Much of this off-road route has a tarmacked alternative for those who want that.)
Start at Haywards Heath Station at 10:30. Meet at the main station entrance.
Length: 16 miles.
Duration: About 5 hours.
Terrain: Tarmacked lanes, some B roads, some bridleways. Mainly flat with a few “undulations”.
How to Get There: Catch the 10:15 London Bridge train from Brighton. To avoid a last-minute
rush, get straight on the train and make for the bike storage carriage at the front.
Return Trains: 21, 24, 38, 51, and 54 minutes past the hour.

The Last Ride 28th November 2021

6 December 2021

Clarion Ride Preston Park to Wivelsfield 28/11/2021 Tessa’s report.

Jim was waiting for us at the north end of Preston Park. Tessa arrived first, quickly followed by Doris and Nick.

We set off south along the park before heading uphill on Surrenden Road to the track running alongside Ditchling Road. Before reaching Ditchling Road we had a little detour up Beechwood Road to avoid having to ride on the main road.

The sun was out but a cold blast coming from the north-west hit us as we rode along the Ditchling Road track.

Only on reaching Stanmer Woods did the cold air abate but the winds must have been strong in the last few days because the first thing we saw was a newly uprooted tree.

The woods were dappled and golden. Part of the off road route to the Beacon crosses fields where puddles were still iced over.

November 28, 2021: Preston Park to Wivelsfield

A downhill sweep from the summit then right into Underhill Lane which is just the width of a ‘Chelsea Tractor’, the first vehicle we met.

The road gently undulates coming to a crossroads of the B2116 where we followed the Plumpton signpost.

We turned left at the corner of a vineyard onto Streat Lane, again an undulating road, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. The sun was behind us and we could see the drivers coming towards us being blinded by it.

There was a nasty moment where one large vehicle travelling too fast came very close to hitting us.

At a T junction we turned left then right onto 100 Acre Lane and soon arrived at Wivelsfield Green and the Cock Inn, our lunch stop.

No room for us in the pub so we had booked an outdoor table in a covered area which had overhead heaters which we could turn on with a remote control.

Everyone enjoyed their food and drinks , which included warm mulled wine. Conversation was around jazz clubs and other gigs, opinions on anti-vax protestors, and future rides- we have one in the bag for 2 weeks time.

It always feels colder getting on our bikes after a winter pub lunch though Nick said the mulled wine helped!

It was only a few miles to reach Wivelsfield station , along a busy sun-blinding road and then a turning into quieter World’s End Lane.

A short wait at the station before we piled into the train home.

A lovely day out in beautiful autumn weather with excellent company.

Thank you Jim.

The Next Ride: Sunday 28th November

22 November 2021

Brighton to Wivelsfield: Sunday 28 November, Preston Park (south end), 10am

This little ride arose out of a trip to Plumpton Green that I made in the summer. It taught me that you can actually ride over Ditchling Beacon and live, as long as you have good brakes and don’t do anything silly.
The ride is mainly on quiet roads and cycle paths, with an optional bit of woodland. If we want a pub lunch we can call in at the Cock at Wivelsfield Green, which has featured on many previous rides. I haven’t booked anything as I don’t anticipate a big turnout; and in any case we might want to sit outside.
The ride ends at World’s End (aka Wivelsfield) where we can use the handy step-free access to the station to get a train back.
Meet at 10am in Preston Park, south end, near the junction of Stanford Avenue and Preston Road. Those wanting second breakfasts might want to arrive there earlier and throw themselves on the mercy of the Rotunda Café, which opens at 9.30.
The ride is about 15 miles long.

Led by JIm

The Next Ride Sunday 31st October

16 October 2021

Sunday 31 October 2021: Three Bridges Circular via Weir Wood Reservoir

Worth – East Grinstead – Weir Wood Reservoir – Kingscote – Turners Hill

This is a repeat of a ride we did in October 2015 and again in March 2019. We’ll ride along the Worth Way to East Grinstead, and make our way to our lunch stop at the Old Dunnings Mill, the lovely Harveys pub and former watermill where we ate last time. I have not made a booking for lunch, and in any case, since we will probably want to sit outside, those tables aren’t bookable anyway, but I’m assured that, as we’ll arrive early, there should be no problem. Veggie and vegan menus available.

We then proceed southwards to the reservoir, and spend a little time in or around the bird hide there. The reservoir was created in 1952 by damming the river Medway, which flows through this valley.

After leaving the reservoir we take a bridleway past Stone Farm Rocks, a striking series of sandstone crags which belong to the British Mountaineering Council, and which, in 2015, were covered in ladybirds – a spectacle we were told only occurs once a year, so we may see it again this time if we are lucky. Later we cross the juvenile Medway, pass the Kingscote Estate Vineyard, and go under the Bluebell Line. We’ll then use a Permissive Bridleway to avoid a hill, passing some wonderful views and emerging into Vowels Lane near the top. After Turners Hill (which is not much of a hill) we will experience the downhill variety.

Tulleys Farm Tea Rooms, which is on our return route, has reinvented itself as a multi-faceted, rather tacky tourist attraction, with escape rooms, a “drive-in” cinema (I wonder if they accept bikes?) and its annual “Shocktoberfest” which is apparently “world famous”. It’s too late for us, but Nick is hoping to soak up some of the Halloween atmosphere over a cup of tea.

After Tulley’s, we rejoin the Worth Way and return to Three Bridges Station.

Anyone wanting to avoid the ups and downs (and Tulley’s) can retrace the outward journey from the pub, and this also makes the ride about 3 miles shorter.

Terrain: Much of this ride is on quiet lanes through lovely woodlands, and the off-road sections are on good surfaces, though they may be bumpy in places. There is a short section of the B2028.

Length: 21 miles or less (see above)

Duration: about 6.5 hours.

Undulations: some. Valleys have sides, unfortunately.

Start at: Three Bridges Station at 10:00

Getting there: Bedford train from Brighton at 9:18, arriving Three Bridges at 9:49.

Getting home: Trains to Brighton/Hove at 16:26, 16:51, 17:26.


Ride report: Clarion Sunday, 19th September, 2021

9 October 2021

Pictures from the Trip

Travelling from Brighton to Blackburn was a bit of a trek, but well worth the effort in order to attend this year’s ‘Clarion Sunday’ gathering in Clarion House. It takes just over two hours by train from Euston to Blackburn, which I thought was an impressively fast connection from south to north.
I had booked a couple of nights in Blackburn’s Premier Inn, which is conveniently situated opposite Blackburn station. Alex & Alan from London Clarion were also staying in the same hotel and we agreed to meet later that evening in The Postal Order, a former post office which had been converted into a pub by the Wetherspoon chain. Although I disagree with the Brexity rightwing politics of Tim Wetherspoon, the vegan pizza and £1.99 pints of ale couldn’t really be faulted.

We probably stayed in The Postal Order for longer than was really necessary. Leaving the pub at midnight, before the 6.15am start on Sunday, perhaps wasn’t the best preparation for a day of cycling.

It was just as well that I had remembered to pack an alarm clock and was able to meet Alex and Alan in the hotel reception just after 6am on Sunday morning. Charles Jepson was waiting with his van outside the hotel and drove us to his house for breakfast. Joining us at the breakfast table were London Clarion’s Nick and Iain, who had been staying with Charles.

Cycling to Clarion House

The plan was then for Alex, Iain, Nick and myself to cycle 18 miles to Clarion House. It was pleasant cycling at 7am on Sunday roads without many cars. The rain which accompanied the early part of the ride eased off very quickly and it became apparent we would have dry and sunny weather for most of the ride.

We stopped a number of times to photograph the terrain we were passing through. This was my first time cycling in Lancashire and I really hadn’t appreciated how steep the numerous hills would be. I could blame the limitations of the folding bike I was using, but suspect I really wasn’t fit enough to climb some of the steeper hills. The effort required to cycle the 18 miles to Clarion House was worthwhile for the incredible scenery which surrounded us though.

When we arrived at Clarion House, we were greeted by Barnoldswick Clarion. They had prepared a 22-mile cycle ride and we set off immediately on the route they had devised for us. The hills in the Pendle area are particularly steep. Although it was an exhilarating cycle ride with terrific views, I was having difficulty maintaining the brisk pace adopted by Barnoldswick while on my Brompton bike.

Alex suggested those of us who had already cycled from outside Blackburn to Clarion House might like to shorten the route and head to Clarion House via the Bay Horse Inn. This seemed like a good idea to me, particularly as we estimated the combined length of our ride would be 33 miles at the end. It was very pleasant sitting in warm sunshine outside the Bay Horse Inn. A number of other Clarion cyclists stopped at the pub before heading to Clarion House.

Clarion Sunday

The Clarion House Sunday gathering was a really successful event. It was estimated that a couple of hundred cyclists & supporters dropped in during the day to express solidarity with the Clarion movement.

Alan Ward from Axis Design had set up a temporary photographic studio outside Clarion House and was photographing all participating cyclists. This was for a project he’s working on which celebrates Clarion’s culture and heritage. He hopes to publish a book celebrating Clarion radicalism before the end of the year.

Alan was also giving out #I_AM_CLARION shoulder bags to all Clarion Sunday attendees. The bag contained useful information on the Pendle Radicals walking trail (PENDLERADICALS.ORG.UK) and a fascinating extract from a 1954 edition of the Daily Worker, which details Harrow Clarion Cycle Club’s visit to Clarion House. There was also an impressive Clarion metal badge in Alan’s bag.

London Clarion had also produced a commemorative ribbon, which they were handing out to mark the special 2021 Clarion Sunday gathering. The ribbon was a fine addition to the Clarion 1895 cycling jersey I was wearing during the day.

It was great to meet people I had never spoken to before. Everyone was really friendly and it was great to learn more about the Clarion movement’s radicalism, which continues to this day.

I had some great conversations about Clarion socialism whilst drinking tea in Clarion House. It was fascinating to look at the banners, posters and other examples of socialist ephemera on display.

We wondered how recent Clarion House visitor, Michael Portillo, could have turned into a rightwing Tory MP when his dad fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Although Portillo’s reactionary politics have nothing in common with Clarion socialism, he was evidently perfectly polite when being filmed (and heckled!) in Clarion House for his BBC railway programme.

I rather regret missing the socialist choir’s performance during Clarion Sunday. Hopefully there will be the chance to sing some socialist anthems when Clarion Sunday returns in June next year (the Covid pandemic pushed the event back to September this year). There’s talk of next year’s Clarion House celebration being a two-day event. Two days of cycling in the Lancashire hills? I had better start doing some training!


The Last Ride 26th September 2021

4 October 2021

Peace Statue to East Worthing via Shoreham Fort Pollinator Café

September 26, 2021: Pollinator Cafe ride

We met at the Peace Statue in Hove, Jim and Nick, Sikka, Angela C and Angela D, Doris, Wendy, Prudence and Graham.

A good turnout for our first ride in a while, so some time was spent catching up with each other and enjoying being in each other’s company.

A quiet ride along the seafront to the Locks at Southwick in light drizzle and under dark clouds – not in the forecast! We waited at the lock gates while a whole flotilla of yachts moved into the large lock that is used by the biggest vessels coming into Shoreham Harbour. Across the locks we made our way to Shoreham Beach and to our first refreshment stop – at the Pollinator Cafe, led by Nick.

September 26, 2021: Pollinator Cafe ride

This was the first time ever I was offered a discount for choosing plant based milk – sustainability of course! We were met there by David and his wife Terri with their dog, as David was not cycling today. Quite a reunion after such a long time in lockdown etc.

Jim then took over leadership of the ride with Angela D, Doris and Sikka. Angela C, Wendy, Prudence, Graham and Nick had other priorities and we left them at the cafe. By this time we were ready for lunch and were fortunate to find a table at the Hummingbird Cafe, Shoreham Airport. We had a table overlooking the airfield just as the sun came out offering delightful views of the local countryside and the Downs.

We then cycled to the Old Toll Bridge where Doris left us. Down to four and riding a few miles up Coombe Road to work up an appetite for our next refreshment stop at St Botolph’s Church.

Botolphs Church

Churchside cafe - second horsebox cafe of the day

Here we had an enjoyable conversation with a couple who were visiting one of the graves and going on to visit a relative who lived close by. They went off in their car but soon after we encountered them again as we entered Sopers Lane. This was the most challenging part of the ride – up this quiet country lane, through a farmyard and up the concrete track through Steyning Bowl. Very steep and long.

Steyning BowlMy e-bike came into her own at this point and took me up with ease – so I was able to enjoy a seat at the top – soon to be joined by Jim – and to enjoy the fabulous view over to Truleigh Hill and beyond. Until we were asked to move out of the way so a woman on a horse, leading another horse, asked us to move out of the way. The three of us were then rewarded with a long downhill ride into Sompting, with just one long hill before crossing the A27 and heading for East Worthing. Here Jim left us to visit his daughter and Angela D and I headed for the station where Angela D hoped to catch a train back to Hove.

I continued to the seafront and rode home to Moulsecomb – the last woman standing so to speak.

A lovely and particularly sociable ride – thank you Nick and Jim for planning and leading.