The Next Ride: Sunday 29 July 2012 – Rye to Hastings via Brede Valley

17 July 2012

Udimore – Brede – Cackle Street – Sedlescombe – Westfield – Ore

I had this ride on the list a few weeks back, but removed it when I realised it would be, to borrow a phrase of Roger’s, too hilly for some. Then along came the Olympic bike ban on London trains, and this ride came back into the frame because it doesn’t involve any London trains. OK, it is hilly, but I reckon out of our huge membership there ought to be a posse of stout fellows and fellowesses who can manage it (I did, after all!). And it’s not as hilly as Polegate to Eridge – far from it! It’s also a very pretty ride – not just good views from the high points, but many tree-covered slopes which dapple the sunlight most agreeably.

The Brede is one of the two rivers that flow into the sea at Rye (or at least they used to, when there was sea at Rye). Its valley runs eastwards from Sedlescombe to Rye, with the railway joining it after Doleham, and we will follow it for 10 miles on the north side, initially at river level and then climbing to the ridge with the lane. We cross it at Sedlescombe, pass the Pestalozzi International Village, and then turn south-east towards Westfield (not the shopping centre!) and south to Ore and Hastings.

Lunch will be at the King’s Head at Udimore, which has splendid views across the valley. There is a possible tea stop at the Carr Taylor vineyard between Sedlescombe and Westfield. Tea and cake are reasonably priced, and there is also wine tasting on offer!

If all that doesn’t tempt you … I will be trying out a new facility with this ride: as we can now put each ride’s photos into a separate “set”, I will be posting some photos before the ride. (They are photos from the practice, of course!) I’ll put them up as soon as the previous ride is out of the way; so take a look and decide whether you can bear to miss it.

Length: about 20 miles.
Duration: about 5 hours.
Terrain: Some hard-surfaced (stony) cycleway, part of NCN2. Otherwise mostly quiet lanes. 2 miles of B2089. One very short stretch of the A28, on the pavement.
Hills: Well, although we are mainly cycling alongside a valley, the Brede has tributaries and these tributaries also have valleys … but we do not go above the 70m contour until right at the end, when we climb to the ominously named “ridge” at Ore. There will be at least four or five places we will need to dismount and walk.
Start at 12:00. (See below for location.)
Getting there: Train to Rye. Because of the limited bike-carrying capacity of the Brighton–Ashford trains, I suggest Brightoners divide themselves between the 9.20 and 10.20. I will be getting the 9.20, and heading for the Café on the Quay (directions below) as some of us did last time; this café is on our route, so I suggest we start the ride from there. Londoners may not be able to make this ride due to the bike ban, but you could try your luck via Ashford on the 9.37 from Victoria (southeastern side – not calling at Clapham Junction) or the 9.40 from Charing Cross. Those with cars can park at either end and use the train (note that this is not a circular ride).
Getting back: Trains from Hastings to Brighton at 3 minutes past the hour and London Charing Cross at 50 minutes past.

Directions to the Café on the Quay:
From the front of Rye station cycle up the wide one-way street at right angles to the railway. Turn right at the top, then carry straight on till you come to a roundabout on the A259. The café is on the corner to your left.


The Last Ride: Sunday 15 July – Bexhill to Polegate

17 July 2012

Pevensey Levels again

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?
Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?
Give them me.
Give them me. Give them me.


This is the beginning of Harold Monro’s poem Overheard on a Saltmarsh.1 This poem, which I remember from primary school, came to mind as we emerged into Saltmarsh Lane on Pevensey Levels, and I was amazed to find that no one else had heard of it. Later at the tea stop (the Old Loom Mill on the Cuckoo Trail) when, during a typical Clarion discussion, Angela said she thought the best moral code was “do as you would be done by”, I recalled Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby from Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, and I was gobsmacked to be greeted with blank stares once more. In fact I began to suspect that I was actually from a parallel world where these works existed, and had somehow stumbled into one in which they didn’t.


But to begin at the beginning. This ride drew the best turnout since mid-April, with 10 riders in all – Angela, Anne, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Rob, Suzanne, Tessa, our leader Roger and myself setting out from Bexhill station. We did a detour to look at the bus perched on top of the De La Warr Pavilion, apparently in the style of the film The Italian Job which I must admit is one piece of popular culture with which I was unfamiliar – or perhaps it didn’t happen in my world …

de la Warr-bus

Roger’s warning about hills was, I think, exaggerated; yes, we did have to walk up a few but they were generally manageable. And the rain held off – although it threatened, and after lunch (at the Red Lion at Hooe Common) we were so sure it was coming that we all donned our waterproofs, only to find at the next stopping place that we were too warm and they would have to come off. In fact I was rather taken aback when Tessa said to me, “Trousers off?!” (I am told that is the appropriate punctuation to convey the tone in which it was said) but recovered when I realised she was only talking about our plastic trousers. (I had to explain that no woman had ever said such a thing to me before …)

Roger’s stewardship was exemplary, with frequent announcements, delivered in a suitably authoritative tone, about the next stage of the ride, and where appropriate, warnings about riding carefully on the A259 or down rutted muddy tracks. Hooe Level – across which we had wonderful views of the sea – is separated from the rest of the Levels by Waller’s Haven, which Roger described as a river in the ride description, and Wikipedia calls a stream. It is effectively the lower section of the river Ashbourne, at least part of which (from the A259 to the sea at Norman’s Bay) is a man-made “cut”, made in 1402 by the wonderfully named Commissioners of the Sewers. Very probably the northern section, to Boreham Bridge, was also widened at some stage to enable iron products to be shipped from the ironworks at Ashburnham.

Pevensey Levels and Observatory

We crossed Waller’s Haven at Horse Bridge, and we were then on the Pevensey Levels, once a regular backdrop to our rides but it seemed ages since we’d been there and it was nice to be back. After the slightly scary Wartling–Pevensey road we were on quiet, flat lanes and could enjoy the view. I think it was at around this point that Joyce began to sing.

Pevensey Levels

I noticed that the Hailsham end of the Cuckoo Trail’s sewer replacement was now over three months behind schedule, having originally been due for completion at the end of March. (Perhaps we should tell the Commissioners? Ah, but Rob informed me that this sewer was, bizarrely, Australian-owned …) Then it was the Loom, lovely tea and cakes, and dispersal for various trains, Rob returning up the Cuckoo Trail to Heathfield. Thanks to Roger for a lovely ride. If you missed it there is more to come, as Tessa is planning a return to the Levels in the autumn.


1For the complete poem see, e.g.


17 July 2012

16 July 2012

I’m getting a bit concerned about so much of the burden of leading rides falling on Jim and Roger. Planning and leading rides can be great fun, but if you do it too much it can become more like a job than a form of pleasure and relaxation. I’m very willing to be “backstop”, although I haven’t been called on in that capacity since last December, but I will be away for both rides in September.

No one need become a “regular” ride organiser; if we had half a dozen people who would take on just a couple of rides a year – or even just one – it would take the pressure off Jim and Roger, and it would be good from the point of view of making things more varied too.

There’s no need to be totally original (which, since half our possible directions are under the Channel and we’ve covered so much of the dry ground, is getting increasingly difficult). On the blog and the old website are lots of descriptions of rides we’ve done. If you’ve been on one that you particularly enjoyed and would like to do again, why not lead it yourself? If you can remember who led the ride I’m sure that they will be only too willing to help with the details – I certainly will if it’s one of mine. And Jim has a whole list of rides anyone can use on

It doesn’t necessarily have to be one person who takes it on – we’ve had a few jointly led rides. When you think about it, the main points of having a designated ride leader or leaders are (a) so that you know somebody will be at the start point and (b) that there will be somebody who knows the way! Probably the first point is the most important of all.

So what about it?

Rides for 2012

17 July 2012

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

Sunday To/Led by
29 July Rye–Hastings via Brede Valley (Jim)
12 August Polegate to Vines Cross via Cuckoo Trail and back via Levels (Ian)
26 August  “Picnic at the Beach” (Roger)
9 September *  
23 September *  
7 October  
21 October *  
4 November  
18 November  
2 December  
16 December  Berwick circular (Ian)

* Ian not available as “back-stop”

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 114. The Bounder gets an invitation and Swiftsure urges participation in Manchester Lifeboat Cycling Parade

17 July 2012

We left the Bounder a few issues back having a well-earned rest on a boat – the Ondine – heading up the Seine from Rouen towards Paris after having cycled from Dieppe to Le Havre. On the way he received an invitation from the Birmingham CCC.

Here is a letter from the O Groomie O, which I read with modified satisfaction as we steamed up the silver Seine:-

Dear Sir, The Brummagen C.C desire the favour of your presence at the second annual P.S.F. – periphery swelling function – We want to hold it about the second week in November, konvenient to you.

The dinner will be held at the Old Royal, a bigger and better place than last time. I suspect the man Sutcliffe will be present, also Nero Smith from Leamington, whom we met a fortnight ago, after having held a meeting there. He is tres comique.

Let me know when you can come, so that we may fix the room. We have had “good herbs” this summer, and have got things to show you.

Yours fraternally,
Tom Groom

Let the feast be prepared when thou pleasest good Groomie O. ’Tis all one to me so long as the Kakes and Klaret wine be forthcoming. Good old Nero. I would dwell upon those features once again. And instruct the man Sutcliffe that, as he fancy himself as humperpusher, I am prepared not only to knock the stuffing out of him, but to wipe the floor with his remains.

The same edition of the Clarion – 5 October 1895 – had this announcement and exhortation from Swiftsure in his “Cycling Notes”

The grand cycle parade and carnival, in aid of the Lifeboat funds, in Manchester next Saturday, the 12 inst is liable to prove one of the finest yet held for that good purpose. … It is hoped the Manchester Clarion C.C. will give the public a show of their numbers on that day. They can do it if they try. I see that the Birmingham Clarion C.C are becoming quite notorious at this kind of fun. In the parade at Redditch last Thursday week they carried away the third prize for muster, while Miss Muir secured the prize for best collector’s costume; and Captain Atkinson won a prize for the best decorated machine.

Let the Manchester C.C.C, therefore, try to follow their example. It is in a good cause.

Next time: Preparations for the Manchester Parade

The Next Ride: 15 July 2012: Bexhill to Polegate

7 July 2012

This ride was inspired by an earlier attempt to plan one from Bexhill to Battle and back: I got to Battle (just about) but decided it was too hilly to inflict on others. This ride goes west out of Bexhill and is not “too hilly”, just hilly.

We head north out of Bexhill and join the wonderfully named Turkey Road which takes us through some very pleasant countryside. Our first target is Who (what?), sorry Hooe. It’s not a very big place: most of its Wikipedia article is about the things that used to be there (school, shop etc). But there is still a pleasant-looking pub, the Red Lion, where we will have lunch. The name Hooe comes from a Saxon word meaning ridge – yes, it is up a hill.

After lunch we head down to the Hooe Levels (which are flat) and Horse Bridge which will get us across the Waller’s Haven; this is the river which eventually reaches the sea at Norman’s Bay. Onward to the hill-top village of Wartling– yes it’s up another hill but, since it’s the last one, walking will be permitted, or possibly compulsory!

We come down from Wartling onto the Pevensey Levels and follow quiet, flat lanes to the Cuckoo Trail where we can stop for tea at the Loom before jumping on a train at Polegate.


Meet: Bexhill station forecourt at11:20.

Getting there: Buy a return to Bexhill. Catch the 10:20 from Brighton. (The 10:29 gets to Bexhill at 11:35 with a change at Lewes, so if you have to use that one give me a call.)

This is a linear ride: If you’re coming by car you could park at Polegate and catch a train to Bexhill or vice versa.

Distance About 21 miles.

Hills There’s a mile or so climb to get out of Bexhill. After that we’re in rolling country so there are a few more climbs, but the prevailing direction will be down. After lunch, just one more serious climb and then it’s down and flat.

Off road A short section of the Cuckoo Trail.

Catering Lunch at the Red Lion in Hooe (01424 892371). Tea at the Loom on the Cuckoo Trail.

Getting home Train from Polegate to Brighton at XX:13 (direct) or XX:28 (change at Lewes).

My mobile 0789 985 1172.



7 July 2012

With photos playing a seemingly ever-increasing part in our ride reports it’s becoming difficult for people to get their reports in as early as in the past. So from now on the target day for the newsletter will be the Wednesday (early evening) following the ride. But as ever it can be delayed a little longer if someone can give a realistic ETA that’s a bit later. On the other hand, obviously if I have all the expected reports and other material by Tuesday, Monday, (or even Sunday evening) I won’t wait till Wednesday before sending it out. If this is likely to be a problem for anyone please let me know.

It looks as though our initial fears that bikes would be banned for all Southern trains until early September were premature. But after my recent experience trying to get sense out of Southern about the Chichester ride the day before the London to Brighton (anyone do it this year, by the way? If so let’s have a report) who can be sure? (Come back British Rail – all is forgiven!) So I’ve put myself down for a ride based on Polegate station for 12 August, but I do have a possible local (trainless) ride in mind if that’s not possible.

Much appreciation (awe and congratulations) for Jenny’s John O’Groats odyssey. [scroll down for Jenny’s report]. It inspired Peter Roscoe to send on her report to various people he thought would be interested. It seems to have awakened memories. First here’s Peter’s message:

Clarion Friends

I enjoyed reading the attached so much I just has to pass it on.

I had to smile when Jenny remarked about the Brompton with only 6 gears – well I suppose it was a Brompton.

In the first half of the 50’s we rode one single fixed wheel for everything. By the 1960’s I had conceded but on a tour of Norway in 1961 with Bury Clarion there was also a Prestwich club using roughly the same route – one of their members was on fixed – 60 inches as I recall!


And here’s a reply that Jenny’s report and Peter’s comments inspired.


My father tells a fantastic story of his days in Keighley Velo which he formed in the 1940’s with his mates, including Doug Petty who went on to ride the Tour of Britain. They rode from Keighley toScotlandand back in a day. It must have been 250 odd miles. He did it on a 3-speed bike and survived on jam sandwiches and water. I mentioned this to Doug Petty a few years ago. He said it was ridiculous looking back on it but then again they were all hard as nails in those days. He said they turned it in to a night-ride regular but had to pack it in because they lost someone.

My father always boasted of being a professional cyclist. He was a telegram boy for the Post Office, riding a bike 8hrs a day!

Great stuff!

Nigel Clayton

Always good to hear about cycling in times past. Talking of which I came across a section in Swiftsure’s cycling notes about lamps in the Clarion, 2 November 1895. Very detailed – a bit like a Which report before such things were invented. But I fear it wouldn’t have been much use to Jenny on one of her night rides. At the end of evaluating the best available products of the day he concluded, ‘more depends upon a perfect wick and the oil used than on anything else.’