Tessa kindly welcomed us all to morning coffee at her studio, so by the time we got to the photoshoot in Lorna Road we had all had time to begin to get to know our welcome newcomers Chris, Suki, Pauline and Nina and Carole. Sue/Sikka, Joyce, Jim, Angela, Marylyn, Roger, Sean and Suzanne were out in force, and it was good to see Elaine with the group for a second outing with Clarion.
Tessa, still suffering from laryngitis, led us on the first part of the ride to bowl along the new cycle lane on the Old Shoreham Road. She then sensibly left us to nurse her poorly throat. Sue/Sikka then took over the task of (quote Jim) “herding cats” (unquote Jim) to wend our way around Hove Recreation Ground. Yes, it’s quite a hill up past the Engineerium, along Nevill Road, up Downland Drive (no pun intended) and then that annoying “down” towards the bridge over the bypass before “up” (Regional Cycle Route 82)
to join the old Aldrington-to-Devil’s Dyke railway track (line closed 1938). Once on our way the fatigue of the climb was far outweighed by the spectacular views across toward the sea … and even more so by the long sweep down towards Saddlescombe Farm and coffee, cakes and glorious sunshine. Nice to see the café so busy with at least two cycling groups and many weary walkers.
We then continued down to the “under down” villages, Poynings, Fulking, Edburton – a halt being called when some horses were spotted in a field – not just any old horses but a magnificent Shire horse who must have stood 18 hands and several smaller versions of the species. Suki sacrificed half of her lunch in the form of an apple (by the way, Angela, I have never seen anyone split an apple in two with her – or even his – bare hands). The two halves of the apple were promptly snaffled by said 18-hander who then proceeded to investigate Suki’s pannier in the hopes of more goodies.
It was decided it was time to move on – our own lunch was calling – although Jim could not resist a little caméra vérité on the way.
A nice little side road brought us safely to Upper Beeding, over the bridge and to an excellent lunch at the Castle Hotel at Bramber. Despite aching legs and full stomachs we wended our way along the Downslink Cycle Route (rail line closed 1966), with Jim doing some bird-spotting as we rode.
Crossing the river Adur we continued on our way to Shoreham where the party went its separate ways: Suki to pick hedge berries, Chris to the comfort of home in Shoreham itself, Sean, Angela, Nina, Pauline, Jim and Carole to en-train for Hove and points east, whilst Sue, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne pedalled off Brightonwards, Joyce and Sue being detained by a cup of tea at Carats’ Café.
A beautifully crafted ride of all the 7s – no, not 777 miles, but 7 miles to refreshment, 7 miles to refreshment and 7 miles to possible refreshment. Three refreshment stops in one ride – this is a record that we must certainly attempt to equal on a regular basis.
Many thanks to both Tessa and Sue for planning such a good ride (and good weather, of course) and to Sue to her skill in making it all happen so enjoyably.
PS: The Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe Farm is offering music, food (carnivores and veggievores catered for), and soft or hot drinks (take your own glass and wine if you want something stronger) 6pm until 10pm Thursday 11 October – in the pergola if wet. Tickets on the night £12.00.
More photos on Flickr.