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.

Jim.


Ride report: Clarion Sunday, 19th September, 2021

9 October 2021


Pictures from the Trip https://www.flickr.com/gp/nickhi/595su9

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!

Boots!
Nick


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.

Sikka


The Next Ride Sunday 26th September

9 September 2021

Peace Statue to East Worthing via Shoreham Fort Pollinator Cafe

Postponed from 12th September

Meet at the Peace Statue at 10.30 am.

We ride westwards along the seafront, turning left onto Basin Road South, cross the harbour at the locks and follow the usual route from Southwick to Shoreham. We then cross the river via the new bridge to Shoreham Beach, and turn back eastwards to the fort and the Pollinator Café.

After visiting the Pollinator Café, we will ride westwards through Shoreham Beach, skirt the airport and cross the A27 into Coombes Road. This road takes us up towards Steyning and passes two churches – at Coombes and Botolphs. I’d recommend visiting at least Botolphs church, if not Coombes as well – the last time I was there we noticed a bird’s nest in the bolt hole! I wonder if it’s still there.

We climb Bostal Road (most of us will have to walk this bit) and go round the rim of the striking geological feature that is Steyning Bowl. After admiring the views from the top of the Downs, we whizz down Titch Hill to a third church – St Mary’s at Sompting, famous for its “Rhenish Helm” tower. It may not actually be open but at least we can have a look.

From Sompting it’s a short ride to East Worthing station for the train back (trains are running). Anyone wishing to avoid trains can ride back along the seafront.

Distances Peace Statue to Pollinator 6 Miles from the Pollinator to East Worthing is 14 miles.

Leaders Nick and Jim


The Last Ride Portslade – August 8, 2021

14 August 2021

Those smart enough to look at the weather forecast for Sunday had already made their apologies and didn’t turn up for Dave’s Portslade ride. When I arrived at Portslade station, Dave said he had considered cancelling when he saw the predicted wind and rain weather conditions for the day.

It had indeed started to rain, but we both agreed that it would be good to attempt some sort of cycle ride. We took a route towards Devil’s Dyke, which was familiar to me from the recent BHT bike ride.

When the torrential rain persisted, and the puddles at the side of the road we were cycling on turned into mini floods, we decided to abandon the ride. It was outside Dyke Road’s Hilltop Cafe where we headed back to Brighton, after a 10-mile ride in distinctly unappealing weather.

August 8, 2021: Portslade ride



Although it’s likely climate change will produce similar extreme weather in the future, it would be good to have another attempt at Dave’s Portslade ride in drier conditions.

Nick


The Next Ride Sunday 8th August

24 July 2021

Dave Churchill’s Portslade ride

This will start at Portslade station at 10.30 and head up past Sainsbury’s in the Benfield valley,
then up to north Hangleton to the Dyke Railway Path past Egbert the emu, (could be Edwina!)
then down through the Dyke on a bridleway.
There are options at this stage:
Repeat the famous Chattri Ride by joining Ride 1 route at the Wild Flour Café at Saddlescombe or
Poynings Crossroads thence to Pyecombe etc.
Do the Ride 1 route in reverse to Preston Park
Do Ride 1 route in reverse to Sweethill and then up Mill Road on off road cycle path to Dyke Road
and drop down to various locations.
These options can be decided on the day so route will vary but the longest route, being past the
Chattri, will be no more than about 15 miles


The Last Ride Sunday the 18th July Chattri Circular

24 July 2021

Ride report: Chattri circular, July 18th, 2021 by Nick & Sikka

The day before the government launched its idiotic July 19th Covid ‘freedom day’ celebration, five of us (Angela C, Doris, Sikka, Dave & Nick) gathered in Preston Park for Dave’s off-road Chattri circular ride across the South Downs.
The twelve-mile cycle ride didn’t seem too much of an ordeal on paper, but the warmest day of the year did make it more of a challenge than I had envisaged.

Sikka describes the alternative route, devised with Angela & Doris, which they planned to take:

‘Thanks to Dave for leading this ride yesterday. And to Nick for great photos. I believe we all enjoyed a wonderful day. Nick and Dave on an outdoor adventure trail and Doris, Angela and myself on a leisurely on-road reduced length cycle ending with coffee in Hove Park cafe.’

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

The plan was for Dave & myself to meet the rest of the group at the Wildflower Cafe, when we had cycled over the Downs. My newly refurbished bike (thanks G-Whizz Cycles!) coped admirably with most of the uphill paths, although there was one steep stretch which was too overgrown for cycling.

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

The five of us did eventually meet outside Wildflower Cafe. We were surprised to see the cafe had closed for a few days for a summer break. We found time to use the drinking water tap & heard about Angela’s conversion to electric bikes.

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

Dave & myself cycled to Pycombe Churchyard for an afternoon picnic. The Chattri memorial was only a few minutes away, then it was downhill all the way (hurrah!) to Brighton.

Thanks to Dave for an exhilarating day out in the July heat. Covid third wave permitting, it would be good to do something similar soon.


The Guardian view on socialism and cycling: fellow travellers

21 June 2021
The Guardian view on socialism and cycling: fellow travellers | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/16/the-guardian-view-on-socialism-and-cycling-fellow-travellers


The Last Ride Sunday the 23rd May Egrets Way Circular

30 May 2021

Following the recent easing of many Covid pandemic restrictions, it felt slightly strange to be joining the first Clarion ride of 2021. Jim had adapted Sikka & Tessa’s Egrets Way circular route with a similar cycling experience, which excluded pub stops & train travel.
The Clarionistas who gathered at Brighton’s Palace Pier for the circular ride along the Undercliff & Egrets Way were Angela D, Jim, Sally, Sikka, Doris, Graham, Chris, Dave & Nick.
Jim suggested that the nine cyclists could be represented by the report writer in a Lord of the Rings narrative style. As I’ve not read the book, or seen the films, I didn’t really know what Jim was talking about. There will be no further Lord of the Rings references in this ride report, although I hope to find time to mention Ben & Jerry’s new peace pop ice cream.
It was overcast for most of the day. Apart from a couple of brief showers, none of the forecast stormy weather materialised. This was a relief to all of us.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


We set off along Madeira Drive, next to the impressive, but unfinished, new cycle lane. It would be good to return to Brighton’s latest Covid cycle lane when it’s finished.
There was a vague plan to stop for a coffee in Rottingdean. It was unfortunate that the seafront cafe was only offering a takeaway service, so we decided to continue with the ride. It was a good opportunity to stop & marvel at the majestic butterfly mural on Rottingdean’s public loo though.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


Our first coffee stop of the day was at Yemeni Coffee in Peacehaven. All of us were impressed with the nine cups of coffee served. They offered us a completed loyalty card for our next visit, which was a very nice gesture. Although grateful, I don’t think we accepted the Yemeni Coffee freebie. I look forward to returning soon though.
It was great to leave the decidedly noisy South Coast Road in Peacehaven and head along the much quieter Egrets Way towards the proposed picnic stop, outside the church in Southease. Some of us also had a look at the nearby Southease youth hostel to investigate lunchtime cafe options for future rides.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


The Southease church picnic stop was so calming and relaxing, I found myself nodding off on the grass after lunch. I’d like to suggest optional siestas on future Clarion rides and may pack an inflatable pillow for a future post-lunch snooze.
Sikka & Doris left us after lunch. They had a cycle route via Newhaven they wanted to investigate. The remaining seven cycled back to the Undercliff via Telscombe.
The afternoon tea stop was the busy Molly’s cafe on the Undercliff route. Graham & Chris had cycled ahead & were quite possibly already in Brighton by the time we reached the cafe. I was tempted with Ben & Jerry’s new cookie dough peace pop ice cream, but decided against it when finding out it wasn’t vegan.
An excellent day of cycling with plenty of coffee, tea & ice cream opportunities. Thanks to Jim for adapting Sikka & Tessa’s original route for our first post-lockdown ride. Let’s hope Covid doesn’t stop us from meeting again soon.


In between lock-downs 2020

23 February 2021

Early August 2020.  Ten Clarionistas assembled at the pier: Angela D, Doris, Joyce, Jim, Richard S, Sally, Sean B, and Wendy T, together with our joint leaders, Sikka and Tessa. Because of restrictions on numbers travelling together we were divided into two groups. Sikka took Group 1 (Doris, Richard, Sean and Wendy) while Tessa led the rest.

Group 2 left first, but confusingly arrived last at the picnic spot on the Egrets Way. We had a change of Angelas at Saltdean, with Angela C replacing Angela D who disappeared in the general direction of Newhaven. Angela C departed after lunch, along with Group 1. After a suitable delay the reduced Group 2 followed their speedier comrades to Telscombe and Saltdean, with wonderful views of the Downs and surrounding countryside; then back along the Undercliff to Brighton after a welcome tea stop at Rottingdean.

Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for a wonderful ride, the first for so long; let’s not wait too long for the next one!  

Richard and Jim.