The Next Ride: Sunday 23 June 2019 Hove Park to Devils Dyke

15 June 2019

Meet Hove Café at 10 Am for coffee and departure at 10.15 to Devil’s Dyke. A nice gentle ride to the top via the scenic route and then a whizz down Dyke Road.



The Last Ride 9th June 2019

14 June 2019

Hove Park to Shoreham

David ,Wendy, Sikka ,Mick ,Ann and Tessa all met at the Hove Park Cafe at 10am.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

It was a lovely sunny morn. Refreshed with coffees, breakfast baps( think that was just me!) off we went cycling up and up through many houses, in amongst them to my surprise was the Dyke railway trail bursting onto the green and lush downs. Still climbing up and up,we eventually swish down to the delightful Wild flour cafe, nestled into the South Downs way path. We left Ann and Mick there to enjoy an early tasty looking lunch.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

We rode up another hill to reach the Poynings turn off. A lovely cycle through country lanes to Henfield where we stopped in the Plough for lunch. While waiting for our roasts, the conversation turned to David’s experience of being involved in Morris dancing while living in Bangkok (!) egged on by the group, (hankies hastily found) he proceeded to give a demonstration along the path in the garden. Enthused by his talent, Tessa and Sikka     also took it in turns and danced along the path.


Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

After being thrown out of the pub for being disorderly and frightening customers (not) we where all a bit tired and Graham decided it was good idea to shorten the ride and skip going on to Partridge Green. So we got on to the Downslink and headed to Shoreham.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

David and Graham decided they wanted more hills so they peeled off to ride up Coombe road. I peddled on only to have my battery conk out just under the Shoreham flyover ( do I hear some titters??!)

It really was a red run and lots of fun.


I classified this as Red (Challenging) due the road section from Partridge Green to Shoreham.  On the day we chose to go south from Henfield on the downs link which made it a Double Blue Run (Moderate at 8-9 mph). 23 miles at an excellent average of 8.9 mph



14 June 2019

Downs Link Pop-Up Ride 2-3rd June

On the 2nd Chris and John (David’s neighbour) cycled from Shoreham up to Guildford on the Downs Link and myself, David and Prudence travelled up by train to meet for our overnight stop at the local Premier Inn

In the evening we had an excellent meal out at the local Red Rose Indian Restaurant followed by pints of Hogs Back TEA beer at the Row Barge pub on the banks of the Wey (until 11.30pm!).

Downslink Ride 3rd June 2019

We started out from the hotel in Guildford at 9.45am after a full English breakfast, and found ourselves on the river Wey towpath at the start of the Downs Link10 minutes later, when one of our group decided that she wanted to see the cobbled High Street with a tour of Guildford.

Downslink Ride 3rd June 2019

Having completed our tour which involved cycling the wrong way down a steep cobbled one way street (A bit like the Hovis Ad) Chris guided us down the river and onto the railway part of the Downs Link south of Shalford.

Our planned first stop at The Milk Churn at Rudgwick was a disappointment as it is closed on Mondays, so we headed for Christ’s Hospital after a diversion to inspect and discuss the Double Bridge. So it was that 20 miles down the trail we discovered the delightful Bax Castle pub, and enjoyed its sunny garden, bouncy castle, cheesy chips and Ringwood Brewery Boon Doggle.

Downslink Ride 3rd June 2019

Downslink Ride 3rd June 2019

Pedalling on we stopped at West Grinstead Station for a half hour rest, where we also discovered a new stop for a future ride, the Orchard Garden and its restaurant. Arriving at Stan’s Bike Shack we found that was also closed so we continued on to the Red Lion Inn, Shoreham at the end of our ride, where we enjoyed well earned pints of Greene King Yardbird in the garden on arriving at around 5 pm.

So the 38 mile journey took seven and a quarter hours at an average speed of 5.25 mph, cycling for 4 hours 15 minutes at 8.9 mph (a speed all of us can easily do on the flat), with more than three hours for discovery, food and drinks, rest, toilet stops, photography and discussion.

Graham and David (Most of the words)

What I thought would have been quite a challenge turned out to be the best and most enjoyable Clarion ride that I have ever been on. Such was the feeling of esprit de corps and joie de vivre that en route I found myself behaving like a child on a bouncy castle. The next morning I even had energy for tennis and a full day of activities.

I’m already looking forward to the next ride along the length of the Downs Link, perhaps in the other direction?


Clarion History 21

14 June 2019

Blatchford alienates two very different groups of readers

Until the late 1890s Blatchford had been supported pretty uncritically by most readers of the paper. But then, first with the outbreak of the South African (or Boer) War in 1899 and later with his attacks on organised religion and belief in his books God and my Neighbour in 1903 and Not Guilty: A defence of the Bottom Dog two years later he upset two rather different sets of readers.

The war, which lasted from 1899 to 1902, was opposed by most of the Left – including the Liberals and above all Lloyd George who came to national prominence at this time as an opponent of the war. Blatchford’s socialist allies in the Social-Democratic Federation were particularly active in opposing the war.

There were a number of factors which led to this apart from simply an opposition to war in general though that certainly played an important part.

That the, apparently mighty, British Empire was waging war against two small republics – Transvaal and the Orange Free State – naturally led to sympathy for the underdogs. The suspicion – not without supportive evidence – that designs on the gold and diamond mines of South Africa played an important role was another factor. Later on Emily Hobhouse’s exposure of conditions in the concentration camps set up by the British added to what for many was already a scandalous war.

Most people have probably heard of the famous nationalistic celebrations following the lifting of the siege of Mafeking, but less well known are the violent attacks by supporters of the war on anti-war meetings including those of W T Stead’s Stop the War Committee. Stead was one of the founders of investigative journalism who would later be one of the most prominent figures to go down on the Titanic. The Manchester Guardian was another outspoken opponent of the war.

Blatchford, of course, had spent some of his most formative years in the army and – as would later be the case in 1914 – found it impossible to do other than support a war in which British soldiers were involved – often with fatal results.

This position of supporting the war alienated quite a few readers of the Clarion as one would anticipate. Then a few years later, his atheistic writings brought a lot of criticism from those who still adhered to some form of religious belief.

Blatchford introduced God and my Neighbour like this:

I was not perverted by an Infidel book. I had not read one when I wavered first in my allegiance to the orthodoxies. I was set doubting by a religious book written to prove the “Verity of Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead.” But as a child I was thoughtful, and asked myself questions, as many children do, which the Churches would find it hard to answer to-day.


Both Blatchford and the Clarion survived these controversial episodes. But there is little doubt that his appeal was at least temporally dented.

Next – The Labour Party and Victor Grayson

The Next Ride Sunday 9th June Hove Park to Shoreham via Henfield (revisited)

30 May 2019

Starting at Hove Park Cafe this route makes a three quarter loop round the downs  via Devils Dyke, Poynings, Fulking, Woods Mill, Henfield, Partridge Green, Steyning and back to Shoreham.

 This is a RED (Hard) Ride (see Below) (New experimental colour coding)

 Please fully read the instructions on the tin before consuming.

Leaving the cafe after an opportunity for an early morning coffee and loo stop we head north west upwards through Hangleton to the Dyke railway trail.

At the end of the trail we turn left onto Devils Dyke Road to the high point at the Golf club and swish down to Saddlescombe and the Wild Flour Cafe.

From Saddlescombe we go left through Poynings and then turn right onto Clappers Lane as we enter Fulking which takes us north towards Woodmancote.

Before reaching the A281 we turn right onto Bramlands Lane which brings us out onto the A281 for a mile or so and into Henfield and Lunch, likely at the Plough Inn.

After Lunch we will Join the Downslink and head north to Partridge Green then south on the road to steyning and onto the downslink.  There is also the easier option to head south to Shoreham on the downslink from Henfield saving three miles.

Length:  25 Miles approx.

Terrain:  This is a long and sometimes hilly ride with over one thousand ft of climb along the route of which half is the climb up to the Dyke Golf club.

Difficulty: This is a RED (Hard) ride. I am hoping that we can cycle this route in between 3 and a half and 4 hours cycling excluding breaks, wind and weather permitting.

  • Green(Easy) Less that 20 miles, reasonably flat
  • Blue (Moderate) Over 20 miles, reasonably flat
  • Red (Hard) Hilly or over 20 miles or fast
  • Black (Difficult) Very Hilly, over 25 miles or lots of rough Bridleway

Starting Point:  Hove Park Cafe , BN3 7BF (South end of park west of tennis courts). at 10am for 10:15 start

There are no parking restrictions around Hove Park on a Sunday

End Point: Shoreham Ropetackle Arts Centre

Time: About 6 hours

To help me book lunch please email me at if you are coming


The Last Ride 26th May 2019

30 May 2019

Andela (D)’s Report

Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

Graham, Prudence, Dave, Nick, Sikka, Wendy, Angela D

Southern Railway had excelled itself in providing its usual Sunday dysfunction with rail replacement buses from Brighton to Timbuktu, but Graham had carefully organised the ride with a straight through trip to Polegate. Talk on the train was of leaks and bathrooms, and stress, with something about water entering the hips, or the head, I’m not sure which, and causing sciatica. Unfortunately I was called away because my bicycle handlebars were engaged in an unwanted embrace with the straps of a daytripper’s rucksack.

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

We all disembarked safely and headed off to the Cuckoo trail.  Our nominated back-stopper – the one who has a picture of JC[1] tattooed on their chest, with JC[2] trying to ride two bicycles at the same time and falling off both – unfortunately lost any sense of socialist communality and headed out front in an attempted populist  takeover. Perhaps they glanced behind and saw the rabble rousers that is Clarion on the go, and decided it was not much of a following, for they soon relinquished their place to our true leader.

Graham had planned a long ride – thirty miles it seemed! Though for those of us who completed the Downslink ride of forty miles in one day, we tried bravely to make it look like a bagatelle, but still anticipating it with dread and secret thoughts of toasted teacakes. To keep us in line, Graham issued us with patented Clarion Cadence Calibrators™. These are exquisitely designed to have all Clarionistas pedalling at the correct pace, with a uniform distance between us all and an auto-fitted device which prevents loitering, dawdling, chatting, the taking of photographs and all time-wasting activities whether or not they add to the enjoyment of the ride.

Unfortunately, somewhere near the beginning of the ride, mine fell off and I was held up for a while searching for it, and when I looked into the bushes I could see it being devoured by a passing wolf. I can’t say whether the same fate befell the others, because from that point onwards I was continually detained by said wolf who followed me menacingly with their yellow eyes and constantly blocked my way as it tried to spit out the indigestible gizmo. Perhaps it was the spirit form of JC?[3]

Bebble's Garden

We were all able to take a breather at Bebbles Langos café in Hailsham, where the more reckless amongst us consumed large portions of Hungarian food, especially the eponymous langos, deep-fried dough with different fillings and I was brave enough, considering the long and difficult road that lay ahead, to have a pudding, a delicious cold fruit soup.

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

The British wife of the Hungarian chef told us about the rise of racist micro aggressions she and her husband had suffered since Brexit – one of the many indictments of our country.

There seemed to be a lot of hills over the next bit – but I didn’t mind because me and the wolf (now nicknamed, of course, JC[4]) kept amiable company – just as well because the others all disappeared far away and over the horizon though they patiently waited at the turning for the tea-shop (Tottingworth Farm Café).

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

At the tea shop we consoled our backstop who was distraught because they had not been invited to JC’s[5] birthday party which was the same day. Tea cakes arrived and were distributed to the inconsolable, who soon revived. All our wearinesses semi- banished, we started off back home with a stop to buy asparagus.

It is well known that the Pevensey levels are a place of mystery and intrigue where the winding trails through the rushes cause a disruption of the senses; for some reason our leader, with a faithful companion,  disappeared into the sunset – except it wasn’t a sunset but a cold, grey, depressing mist. I can only leave you all in suspense as to the reason for this precipitate departure because, as usual, I was trailing behind and missed any discussion about their evanescence. I did, however, see the wolf, who by now had deserted me, snapping hungrily at their heels.

However, we cheerfully re-grouped and Sikka took over as our excellent leader and guided us ably to Polegate, a sad and dispiriting sort-of suburb, that for once we greeted with delight, as it meant we had arrived at our destination.

Even a damp, chilly wait at the railway station did not dishearten us as we collected snackettes from the co-op and tactfully avoided discussing JC[6] and the European elections.

Many thanks to Graham for planning and leading the ride and to Sikka for leading the last part.

Angela Devas

[1] JC = Julian Clary (celebrated Brightonian)

2 JC = Julius Caesar (the Romans did have bicycles, so there)

3 JC = John Cleese (though I always thought Sybil (Prunella Scales) was funnier

4 JC = Jackie Chan

5 JC = Joan Crawford (yes I know she’s dead, but she still has a birthday)

6 JC = Jackie Collins (apparently in her spirit life she’s writing a steamy romance about Guy Verhofstadt and Theresa May)


30 May 2019

Brighton Cycle Challenge 19 May 2019


BHT 30 Mile loop Report (David and Graham)

Start at Brighton Velodrome


Graham and I survived a gruelling ride around the ‘short’ 30 mile Devil’s Dyke Loop in the rain, there was a refreshment stop at Woods Mill and a cafe stop in Shoreham by which time the rain had stopped.

Arriving back we were rather disappointing to find only Roger and Suzanne had been doing laps of the velodrome for such a worthwhile cause.

I don’t know whether it was just the effect of the intense thirst that we had built up during the ride, but the Bedlam SMaSH craft beer at The Hare and Hounds after the ride was the best beer that I’ve had for years; a delicious blend of Golden Promise malt and Mosaic hops that explodes the tastebuds and aroma with tropical fruit, citrus, peaches, and apricot.

We could have stayed there all afternoon. The chips weren’t half bad too!


This year the 30 mile ride had a lot more riders maybe 30 or so all of the Lycra clad variety. We made it round in four and a half hours at a respectable 10mph ride speed, noting that the Lycra clad one’s are happy to just get wet.

As David says the level of Clarion support this year for this local cause was very disappointing. The 30 mile route is really not that hard (not gruelling) and surely well within most members capability, although the 9am start is early. Everyone should at least be doing laps of the velodrome.