The next ride: 3 April 2011 Berwick – Glynde

22 March 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 3 April 2011
Berwick – Golden Cross – Chiddingly – Blackboys – Framfield – Ringmer – Glynde

This ride starts and finishes on familiar territory, but hopefully will feature some new places in between. It is non-circular so that we avoid the long uphill climb from Glynde, which is so depressing at the start of a ride, but we do get to whizz down it in triumph on the way back. There will be the odd undulation in between, but no undue undulations.

On the outward leg we will experience a lovely, quiet, 2½-mile-long lane that has virtually no traffic on it, because it starts off as a bridleway and hence goes nowhere of interest to the motorist. (However Jenny has told me that the “bridleway” section is actually a “BOAT” – Byway Open to All Traffic – and will reopen to traffic eventually – let’s hope not yet!) It appears not to have a name – but this nominative deficiency is made up for later on in the ride by Holdcroft Lane, Ailies Lane and Hollow Lane. At the end of the ride we will also traverse three more lovely lanes well known to us from previous rides: Harveys Lane, Green Lane and Norlington Lane; and after Ringmer, Potato Lane also puts in an appearance.

We will have lunch at the fourteenth-century Blackboys Inn; it’s Mothers Day, so I have had to book a table, and would appreciate approximate numbers in advance (so please e-mail me on if you are planning to come).

On the way back we will catch another glimpse of the mysterious fox statue, and we will also see, in the distance, the tower of Laughton Place, which featured on a ride we did in March 2010. The second half of the ride, by the way, is subtitled “Escape from Uckfield”, as it may come in handy for future rides that deposit us at Uckfield station. If anyone is too tired (or has had too much lunch) to continue, they can always employ this escape route in reverse by cycling the couple of miles from Framfield to Uckfield and getting the train from there. Be warned though – it is a long way back that way!

Length: about 25 miles.

Duration: about 5 hours (including lunch).

Terrain: Nearly all quiet lanes; the one short bridleway is surfaced with chippings, which may make for a rough ride but we can walk it.

Start time and place: Berwick Station, 10.50 am.

Suggested trains: 10.20 from Brighton (or the 10.09, change at Lewes, to escape the jobsworths on the barrier line); 8.47 from London Victoria (change at Lewes).

Return trains: 16.53, arriving Brighton at 17.12 and London Victoria at 18.31 (change at Lewes).

Jim (07742 963239)


The last ride: Sunday 20 March 2011 – Three Bridges to Haywards Heath via Worth Way and Bluebell Line

22 March 2011

[Many more photos in our Flickr group]

This is how most of us felt at the end of the ride (apologies to the stronger riders in our midst).

Twenty, yes T-W-E-N-T-Y, happy Clarion riders met at Three Bridges station, gathering from north and south. This was, of course, a record. Once the puncture was mended and the photo taken, it was off in clear, sunny weather along the Worth Way, our long April shadows accompanying us as we rode: now high above the railway cutting, now riding along the embankment of the rail bed itself.

The start at Three Bridges

Rowfant station still stands but Crawley Down station is no longer with us – 1960s Grange Road has obliterated that particular alighting point. Being very glad of Jim’s guidance, we made our way through the modern housing estate, back onto the Worth Way and then off again on a delightful little detour past mediaeval Gullege and then back over the Worth Way and up and down Imberhorne Lane. Here we crossed another defunct rail bed, this time, the East Grinstead to Kingscote line (aka a future extension of the Bluebell Line – track already laid to the south-west, mountains of 1960s rubbish still to be removed from the cutting to the north-east).

Rubbish dump

After climbing up for what seemed forever, at last it was time to swoop down to Kingscote station. The bad news was that the wonderful 1960s uniforms being worn by the volunteer station staff also meant that they were perpetuating 1960s attitudes: no more than five bikes allowed in the guard’s van. Doh! Rapid calculations were made as to who was likely to be able to cycle the 12 miles to Sheffield Park station without dropping completely dead. And then there were 15 – well no, one more intrepid Clarionette used charm (brute force / tears / pleading / bribery?) and was also allowed to part with £8.00 (+ 50p bike charge) for the honour of being steam-drawn those 12 miles. So then there were 14 happy Clarionettes on their way.

Tessa detrains

Or do I mean there were 14 hills? Is it really possible for roads to continually rise? Up Vowels Lane we climbed, the vowels mainly being A(rgh), O(w) and OU(ch). But once up, we found the views were spectacular across the High Weald and Shagswell Wood down to our left; all along knowing that the railway line had commandeered the flat valley bottom in 1882 for its own use. Unfortunately each time there was an exhilarating sweep down, it seemed to be followed by an agonising climb up.

Not “Very Flat”, Sussex!

The early birds at lunch

By 2.30 the weary band of 14 reached Sheffield Park station and made a bee-line for the pub where curly sandwiches (circa “Brief Encounter”) and various delectable dishes were consumed. A later-than-usual start back at 3.30 with quite a few creaks and groans, but we were on the home straight. The joy of a bike is that you can get off and push up the hills. Just think how awful if would be if you had to push your Range Rover out of the “Bluebell Valley” to get up to Butterbox Lane. None of those difficulties for us. We just got off and pushed (well, some of us did, anyway).

Leaving Sheffield Park station

As we passed twice more under the Bluebell Railway our shadows were still with us, but lengthening in the other direction under a still brightly shining sun. We paused to admire the sparkling waters of ancient Ludwell Spring near Horsted Keynes and then through the various farmsteads of Walstead to Lindfield.

Ludwell spring

John, Mark and Sean had peeled off before Chailey, Mick had hared off to put on evening dress for dinner, and then Jenny was away in a cloud of dust*, whilst the remaining 16 managed to cause a mini traffic jam in that pretty little village, and so before you could say, “Pump me tyres up, Sport”, we were back to Haywards Heath and four tired Londoners were being whisked off northward whilst 13 Sussexers (there must be an adjective!) cluttered up a busy train to their respective stations south.

Finally, please remove your helmets to pay your last respects to “The Intrepid Fox” at West Hoathly (offers in the region of £650K), the “The Witch Inn” at Lindfield and any other “dead pubs” that we might have passed.

Thanks to Jim for a delightful ride through what must be some of the most beautiful countryside in Sussex.


* Hardly! Sorry to desert everyone so abruptly, but I was very tired after doing a 55-mile overnight ride (for fun!) on Friday, and stopping and getting cold was making matters worse. So I decided to take the direct route down the main road to Haywards Heath to get to my car before I expired at the roadside.



For the trainspotters reading, the ‘cushy six’ were hauled from Kingscote to Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway by South Eastern & Chatham Railway No. 178, P-class 0-6-0T built in 1910. The other loco on duty was Brighton-built London Brighton & South Coast Railway Class E4 0-6-2T No. 473, “Birch Grove”. There was in fact plenty of room for all our bikes in the guard’s van!

Our loco No. 178


TJ has also written up the ride, on this forum. Scroll down until you see Clarion. It’s reassuring too that other cyclists are also taking pictures of food!

News 21 March 2011

22 March 2011

Fred has sent on a message from a company called Qube that is working with B&H council on a research project about people’s attitudes to local transport. It’s looking for two groups of people – women 13–20 (we’re a bit short of them) and women 50+. The message says:

We are looking for people who are online literate (a basic understanding of something like Facebook should be enough). They will also need to live within Brighton and Hove. Whilst the community will be about transport there is no requirement for any knowledge or interest in this area. The community will cover a range of topics and our participants will be financially rewarded for participating.

Anyone interested can get more info from Survey Link: and more details about the project on

TUC “March for the Alternative” 26 March. If you’re taking part and want to contact other B&H Clarion people during the day here are some mobile numbers:

Ian 07770 743287; Jim 07742 963239; Joyce 07761 628836 (Joyce will have to leave soon after the beginning of the Hyde Park rally); Sue (B) 07786 219438.

Jenny will also be there but doesn’t have a mobile phone – but you never know, you might spot her even in that massive crowd. More info on

Future Rides … 2011 until the end of July

22 March 2011

We’ve now got just one slot to fill by the end of July. I’ll be working out dates for the rest of 2011 as soon as I’ve time.

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

3 April Berwick-Glynde via Blackboys (Jim)
15-17 April New Forest weekend (Jim)
1 May Hastings ride (Jim)
15 May Gatwick to East Croydon (Jim)
29 May Shermanbury (Ian)
12 June TBC (Roger)
26 June Herstmonceux and Wartling (Tessa)
10 July
24 July* Plumpton circular (Jenny)

*Ian definitely not available

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 80. Swiftsure (and Manchester CCC) speak up for “rational dress” for women cyclists

22 March 2011

The following appeared as part of Swiftsure’s “Cycling Notes” in the 29 June 1895 edition of the Clarion:

A short time since, in his leading article in the Cycling* Mr H. Sturmey – who is looked upon as the most experienced writer on the cycling press – thought fit to make an attack on the rational dress for lady cyclists. He said, in effect, that it was unbecoming, unwomanly, and unnecessary. He advocated a narrower and somewhat shorter dress than the usual one for walking, with cloth gaiters.

I don’t know whether Mr Sturmey has ever ridden out with a lady on a windy day, but I rather doubt it, or else I feel sure he wouldn’t talk in that strain. If anyone has noticed a female struggling against a strong wind and clinging skirts, they must surely have thought that it were better if the skirt was discarded and the more reasonable knickers adopted. As for riding in a short skirt – well – it requires a bodies [sic] whole attention to keep it – er – in the proper place. It requires no small amount of resolution to ride out in knickers, but I feel sure that in time the custom will be almost universal. It is just possible, also, that our Clarion clubs have a certain influence in bringing this about. For instance the Manchester Clarion C.C. have already about ten lady members, three or four of whom turn out with the club on every run.

Naturally, all the male members recognise the disadvantage of the ladies wearing skirts, and are anxious for them to all turn out in “rationals”. This will probably be carried out shortly, and then they will be protected and encouraged, and by the very force of numbers assist in bringing about a reform which is decidedly necessary.

An incident which occurred on the run to Dunham Park of the same club last Saturday, further illustrates the feeling of Clarion cyclists on this question. A young lady was noticed on the road riding in rationals, and the insulting remarks of passers-by caused the members of the Clarion Club to give her a hearty cheer: without more ado the young lady asked if she could join the club? The reply was, of course, given in the affirmative, and the young lady spent the remainder of the day in congenial company.

*Cycling (now Cycling Weekly) is by far the oldest cycling magazine in the UK – possibly in the world. Since as long as I can remember (late 1940s) it’s always been known as “the comic”.

Next time: Swiftsure and the dangers of  “casting off” clothing – a warning to us all! [We shall hear more of the “young lady” in a future episode.]

The next ride: 20 March 2011 – Bluebell railway

8 March 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 20 March 2011
Three Bridges – Kingscote – Bluebell Railway – Sheffield Park – Haywards Heath

This is a repeat of a ride we did in September 2007, with a different ending. We once again encounter National Cycle Route 21, in the guise of the Worth Way, and follow it most of the way from Three Bridges to East Grinstead, then strike out southwards to Kingscote, where the Bluebell line starts.

Since the lunch at Horsted Keynes last time was … well, a bit basic, I have now developed an alternative route which involves staying on the train to Sheffield Park and using the proper restaurant there – prices are reasonable and there is a fairly good choice, with veggie options. We may well want to look round the engine shed and the shop at Sheffield Park too.

The single fare from Kingscote to Sheffield Park is £8.00 plus 50p bike fare (they have a proper guard’s van!). This is somewhat more than we paid three years ago, but then the Bluebell are currently trying to raise £2m to move a huge mass of household refuse that was dumped in the cutting in the 1970s, so that they can link up to the National Rail network at East Grinstead (where they have already built a Bluebell station next to the Network Rail one) so the money is going to a good cause!

The route out of Sheffield Park station involves about a mile of the A275, which is rather too busy for our liking, but we will have to put up with it. We then strike out north-westwards on quieter lanes, and reach Haywards Heath via Lindfield. We will make two crossings of the River Ouse (thankfully, by bridges!) and see it from the train – it is narrower here than where we crossed it at Isfield on the Lewes ride last year, of course.

Total ride length is about 19 miles. There are some hills but no serious ones.

Suggested trains:

From Brighton: 10.00 or 10.14

From Preston Park: 10.03

From Hove: 09.54 (change at Burgess Hill)

From London Bridge: 9.42

From London Victoria: 9.47

or meet at Three Bridges station at 10.45.

A return ticket from Brighton to Three Bridges will cover the return journey from Haywards Heath; if travelling from London you will need to get a return to Haywards Heath.

Return trains to Brighton at 8, 31, 38 and 41 minutes past each hour, to Hove at 11 minutes past, London at 1, 10, 31 and 39 minutes past.


The last ride: Sunday 6 March 2011 – Gatwick circular revisited

8 March 2011

Sunday 6 March 2011

Gatwick Circular Revisited – Horses, Porsches, Woods & Water

[More photos on Flickr]

I’m supposed to be helping Jim to lead the ride so hope to arrive early at Brighton station, but forgot about the building works fencing off the usual entrance, so a little late, but still caught up with Roger & Suzanne on their way in, then delighted to see Joyce & Fred, already waiting at the usual spot. We decide not to choose Groupsave in view of the trouble on the last ride, where we were split up for being “too many bikes”. Roger and Suzanne had opted to take the earlier Southern train, to prevent any delay at the Gatwick start. We remaining three went for senior returns, even though Sue arrived, since she was hoping to return earliest. Our train was First Capital Connect & thus £2 cheaper than Southern. Jim had arrived by an even earlier Preston Park train, Jenny had come from Plumpton station, & Roger and Suzanne had arrived on the Gatwick Express. An Airport Information Officer was asked by Fred to take the group snap & he duly obliged, amid the bustling airport concourse.

The start at Gatwick Airport

Eight of us now trailed towards the lifts back down to earth, making a surreal procession among those bound for the skies. Jim checked that no one from London was trying to join us. Angela was meeting us at Horley & she liaised by mobile phone, eventually waving & joining the band. But first we had the delights of the tunnels under the monorail and/or railway; much hollering & ringing of bells! Now the Riverside Water Park, with lake to the left of us and solitary coot & serpentine stream & anglers to the right, as we rode. We paused for a few photos & regretted that Angela would miss our first treat. Met Angela at a roundabout and then we were nine.


Jim led us carefully from the NCR 21 Greenwich bound to the Surrey Cycleway – Leigh bound. Neither was very well marked. When Mick and I had tried to recce the ride a month previously we’d wasted at least an hour finding our way out of Gatwick Airport. No one in or around the airport seemed to cycle, though once on the track, blue signs appear. The airport building always seems to be expanding & the M23 roars away in the background constantly, but now we were out on the open road heading north, into a 16-mph NE headwind, but not too bad. A few gentle hills took us to a ridge from which Surrey lay spread out before us, with the North Downs on our right instead of our familiar South Downs on the left. In the distance chalk cliffs & Reigate, and near us hedges, fields & wonderful selection of trees, a few farms, lots of lovely spring birdsong and I heard the tap of a woodpecker. There wasn’t much traffic but what there was, was of the fast variety & shouts of “oil” reverberated along the line of nine.

gatwick circular 011

Just before Leigh and lunch I glimpsed a glorious Gothick mansion and diverted into its drive to take a photo. My latter half of the line followed and we wondered at the bell-tower, the chain bridge over the moat, the towers, the boat, the Gothic windows with drawn curtains. Was it abandoned or inhabited, what was it called and was the bridge safe? I thought of Mariana in the moated grange in Measure for Measure and Tennyson’s poem. Onwards to Leigh. Sue was much taken by a venerable churchyard tree & another photo was called for and taken. More Tudor cottages appeared on the green at Leigh, along with the welcome sight of The Plough for lunch.

gatwick circular 013

By now, the sun was out & we were warm from the climbs, so half of us chose to sit outside, as we’d done on the previous trip here when Nick had photographed a ladybird joining us for lunch. Joyce, Angela & I had fine, green vegetable soups & Jim had substantial baked potato with vegetable trimmings. Animated discussions arose on the recent Middle Eastern uprisings & likely effects, leading onto “The Promise”, TV series about Israel now & in 1947, through eyes of a young woman visiting friend there & her grandfather, who’d served in British army there and was marked for the rest of his life by it. All agreed it was remarkably good. Angela told us of her uncle who’d bravely refused to go there after serving in the war. The other five sat inside at sunny window table & enjoyed their food, my favourite being Jenny’s goat’s cheese jacket potato. Wonder if that’s what Jim had too?

The hardy outsiders

After a few more photos – Fred took one of the village well and its Best-Kept Village award – we were off again, via cutely named Newdigate Lane. There was a stop to enjoy three pretty little brindled ponies in a hedged field. Sue said they looked like hyenas, but Jenny said they were British Spotted Ponies. On looking them up on the web they do seem quite unusual, & were rather lovely.

gatwick circular 017

At the turning for Hammond’s Copse, two other cyclists appeared from the opposite lane and we followed them into the wood onto the bridleway, after a photo-stop. There are still not many signs of spring: trees are bare, snowdrops are the only clumps of flowers, though very occasionally isolated primroses also arose. Green stalks of future bluebells, violets & wild orchids were there promising much once the weather warms. We met some more cyclists in the wood, who held open the gate for us to proceed through. Eventually we emerged onto the concrete track by another beautiful farmhouse where we posed for pictures.

Hammonds Copse

The concrete road gave peaceful views but eventually led to a real road that took us back to the A road & the Surrey Cycleway back to Horley; just time to photograph some spring buds by the wayside. Time for some tea at Planet Café. In fact Sue and I had soup again & Joyce had scrumptious baklava which she offered around. This led to discussion as to whether it was rude to ask where the café owners came from, as they were likely to say Britain, but Joyce did it anyway & I was right in guessing Turkey, as the food was so tasty.


We had to say goodbye to Angela at Horley & then regain NCN 21 back to the airport via the waterpark & the tunnels, in which we hooted, sang & rang our bells anew! Bit of a dilemma at the station as our FCC tickets, though not cheap, still didn’t really entitle us to take the only Brighton train available. In fact the train turned out to be a Gatwick Express – 10 carriages but only two cycle spaces. Obviously Roger & Suzanne were the only two with a ticket to ride this luxurious transport, but the other four of us didn’t fancy an unlimited wait for another Brighton train. Sue had hopped onto Jenny’s train to Ore, hoping to alight at Haywards Heath & change onto a Brighton train. We remaining FCC three, comforted by Jim’s discussion with platform staff, decided to risk the Express and hope we didn’t have to pay exorbitant excess! So six of us squeezed into the luxury train & enjoyed a friendly & swift direct return to Brighton with no problems, even though there was virtually no room for bikes. It didn’t stop anywhere, let alone Haywards Heath, so I do hope Sue’s wait was not too torturous.

Down by the Riverside

Jim had led us on a ride we all agreed was delightful. He’d remembered without needing his prompts, and I’d relaxed & loved the ride rehearsed & revised & seeming to unfold swiftly, with no problems or punctures. Thanks to Jim for all his very careful preparations & expert shepherding.


Future rides… 2011 until the end of July

8 March 2011

No one else has volunteered for 15 May, so Jim has it – again! We’ll have to think of a suitable award to give him. I’ve “bagged” 29 May. Which means that we have just three rides unaccounted for between now and the end of July. So hurry if you want to take on one of them! I’d particularly like to hear from someone who can do 24 July. I’ll be giving the dates for the rest of the year fairly soon.

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

20 March Bluebell ride (Jim)
3 April Berwick-Glynde via Blackboys (Jim)
15-17 April New Forest weekend (Jim)
1 May Hastings ride (Jim)
15 May Gatwick to East Croydon (Jim)
29 May Shermanbury (Ian)
12 June
26 June Herstmonceux and Wartling (Tessa)
10 July
24 July*

*Ian definitely not available

TUC “March for the Alternative” demo

8 March 2011

Good to hear that the daft and expensive scrapping of the cycle lanes in The Drive was thrown out at the council meeting. Well done all the many people who campaigned so effectively on the issue.

Not everyone will be there, of course, but I would be amazed if Sue and I were the only people on our mailing lists (note the plural) planning to take part in the TUC  “March for the Alternative” demonstration on 26 March. With the TUC estimate of 200,000 likely to be greatly exceeded, it will be difficult if not impossible to find anyone you didn’t actually come with. But it might give us something to do while waiting for the march to get going if we had each other’s mobile numbers. And it might be useful to compare notes from different parts of the forest. If you are going and would like to share your number with other B&H Clarion participants, let me have it before the next newsletter (21 March) and I will include it in that edition. (There are other ways of doing this of course, but don’t be tempted to use the “Reply All” with this newsletter; you will only reach one section of the mailing list.) My mobile number is 07770 743287.

Anyone wanting information about the event will find what they need at

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 79. Clarion CCs get together for rides

8 March 2011

During the summer of 1895 there was a clear trend for the Clarion cycling clubs, which had been founded at various times over the previous year or so, to try and arrange meeting up with each other on rides. All the following examples are from the usual source – Swiftsure’s “Cycling Notes”.

15 June

F G Browne, sec Birmingham Clarion CC writes:

On Saturday, June 22, the Clarion Cycling Clubs of the Midlands meet at Burton-on-Trent. The Burton I.L.P. have kindly promised their assistance in getting accommodation, and have secured a room at the Market Hotel, High Street for a smoking concert. Unattached Clarion cyclists who may wish to be present will know where to find us. We shall, of course, be very pleased to welcome all sympathisers.

22 June

The Newcastle Clarion CC have arranged to spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday, August 3, 4, and 5 at Richmond.

The South Shields and Darlington clubs will join them. Will the Yorkshire clubs consider the matter and decide early whether they will attend or not, so that arrangements may be made. There is a grass track there and if the Leeds, Bradford and Halifax clubs join, we might have a team race for a small club trophy, or some other kind of sports, say on Monday early.

Richmond is a pleasant and historic place, and the venture should receive immediate consideration at the clubs mentioned. Communications to be addressed to Fred Phillipson, 21, Ripley Place, Newcastle.

29 June

I am requested to inform the members of the “Clarion” CC Manchester and district that the run next Sunday is to Littleboro’, to meet Bradford C.C.C. Meet at the Infirmary at 2 pm prompt. Our Bradford comrades are making it an all-day run, and wish Manchester C.C.C. to arrive as early as possible. It is also hoped that Oldham, Rochdale, Hyde etc will make it their destination.

Next time – Swiftsure (and Manchester CCC) speak up for “rational dress” for women cyclists