The Next Ride: Sunday 7 April: Centurion Way, Dell Quay, Salterns Way, and Chichester Canal

25 March 2013

Just a short way up Centurion Way, then off down, initially, the B2178 south to Fishbourne , a short stretch of the old main road and down to Dell Quay for lunch at the Crown and Anchor.* Then the Salterns Way cycle route down to the Salterns Marina, over the swing bridge and back via the Chichester Canal with probably time for a tea stop at the open-air café at in the canal basin.

Catch the 10.30 from Brighton Station, 10 34 from Hove or meet at Chichester Station at 11.25. Best trains back seem to be the  15.23, 15 23 or  16 23  

My mobile number is 07770743287   It will be switched on!

* I’ve never tried to “book” at the Crown and Anchor in the past – we’ve always gone there in the spring or summer and usually sat outside in the sunshine where there are masses of tables.  This time – with winter threatening to last until next autumn – I’m going to wait until a few days before and see what the forecast looks like before deciding whether to get in touch.


The Last Ride – Sikka’s Report: Sunday 24th March 2013 – A different Berwick Circular

25 March 2013

Three stalwarts on bikes, Jim, Angela and Sikka,  left Berwick station on a freezing morning (snow flurries forecast).   We started off with a birthday card for Jim from Clarion members  (mostly absent)  and a hearty singing of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ much to Jim’s embarrassment.   We then cycled along quiet country lanes, through the village of Ripe with our fingers and toes becoming painful with cold.   There was talk of stopping for coffee to thaw out, when we were fortunate to encounter a couple outside Laughton village hall.  

Trying on maternity wear at the Nearly New Sale

They invited us to join their Bring and Buy Sale (babies, toddlers and maternity wear!) and warm ourselves up with hot tea and fairy cakes. No luck though looking for extra socks big enough for a grown-up!

A terrible place

We soldiered on refreshed and encouraged, past ‘Terrible Down’ and reached Uckfield, the Station pub, precisely as planned at 1pm.   Here we were able to warm up once again and enjoyed excellent service and good reasonably priced food.

Lunch at the Station Inn Fellowship is ...

The afternoon felt warmer, perhaps the cold wind was behind us?  I was personally not looking forward to cycling another 16 miles after lunch but we all managed the somewhat hilly cross-country section and reached our next refuelling stop at Chiddingly in time for another warming hot drink and some of Jim’s birthday chocolate.  The pub was full and warm, a very pleasant sociable atmosphere.  One of my favourite pubs.   Lovely fires, dogs, bikers, etc.

Tea Stop at the Six Bells

The route was attractive, with lots of lovely distance views, we saw tiny new lambs in the fields, Angela saw a fox, Jim thought he saw a hare (or was it a rabbit?) and I noticed primroses, daffodils, wood anemones on the verges and Jim photographed a fine topiary duck and duckling.


The route back from Chiddingly was an easy flat ride and we reached Berwick station just in time to see Angela back to her car and to catch the 5.48 train to Brighton.    (Coffee from Jim’s flask on the train to complete the alimentary delights of the day).

Jim’s computer registered 29.5 miles by the end of the day and Angela was pleased to have completed the longest ride she has undertaken with Clarion so far.  Well done Angela and many thanks to Jim for coming out on his birthday to lead this very satisfying ride.



25 March 2013

25 March 2013

Dear fellow members and friends

The very first edition of this newsletter went out on 19th April 2004.  It contained a brief report – by me – of our first ride which I had described in advance as “a gentle canter down the Cuckoo Trail”  But it didn’t turn out quite that way- the weather was a bit like – well, now.  Here’s the start of my report:

Three of us managed the ‘inaugural ride’ in the end – Joyce, our newest member (we’re now up to 7 with about as many more prospective joiners) Sheila Schaffer who some of you at least also know.  The weather was awful – cold, wet and windy and the Golden Martlet pub where we’d reckoned on having a break was covered in scaffolding and closed – but having survived World War II we were not going to let a spot of rain deter us. In spite of the weather we had an enjoyable day – and, thanks largely to Joyce thoughtfully bringing a flask of hot soup, we survived.

Sadly, though Sheila took part in many more Clarion rides, some of which she wrote the reports for, she died at the end of 2009. Of course, cycling with us was only one of her activities which covered a vast range and included her long period as a Brighton councillor (and her year as mayor) and participation in many many campaigns for social justice right to the end of her life.

Joyce has sent me details of a memorial lecture that the Brighton & Hove United Nations Association is holding  in honour of Sheila.  It will be by author and journalist Victoria Brittain on “Invisible Victims of War on Terror” with, we are promised, “ a disturbing exposé on how incarceration under cover of the War on Terror affects women and children in the UK”  It’s at  Brighthelm Church & Community Centre  on Friday 10 May  7- 9 30 . It’s free with refreshments provided.  Get there if you can.

Joyce adds:

Most of you will remember Sheila , As well as being one of the founder members of Brighton & Hove Clarion and many other things, Sheila was Chair of Brighon & Hove United Nations Association for some 10 years after she left the Council.  B&H UNA are presenting a memorial lecture in her memory -, the speaker Victoria Brittain is very good – Please come….

*          *          *          *          *

Norfolk Weekend –  Message  from Jim

Sorry about the continued lack of information about the Norfolk trip. I have had to postpone my recce because of the bad weather. However, rest assured that you will be given the time and place for the start of the first ride well before the weekend.

Please let me know ( if you are planning to come, if you haven’t already. So far I have the following names: Fred, David, Angela, Helen, Joyce, Amanda and myself. We will be joined by two “guests” from Cambridge Clarion and Suffolk CTC, and possibly others.

In the meantime we need to think about how we will get there. The train journey from London Liverpool Street to Sheringham on the Friday takes 3 hours 13 minutes, leaving at 10.30 and hourly thereafter, and arriving at Sheringham at 13.43 and hourly thereafter, with an 18 minute change at Norwich. Bikes have to be booked on the London-Norwich trains and put in the spacious luggage van; but between Norwich and Sheringham the trains are very short and cannot be booked.

Thus if you are planning to travel out on the train on the Friday, please email me with your preferred travel time and I will try to sort out a rota to avoid overcrowding and/or long waits at Norwich. Also let me know your planned return time on the Monday, when trains leave Sheringham at 46 minutes past the hour and there is a similar wait at Norwich. However please note that you will be responsible for actually booking your train – and, of course, your accommodation”

*          *          *          *          *

Fred has long kept a jaundiced eye on the more insane of the anti-cyclist correspondence on the letters page of the Argus.  I’m not sure whether this report is reassuring (“It’s not just Brighton!”) or deeply depression, but this is what appeared in the “comic” recently under the headline “Yorkshire councillor slams cyclists”

Cyclists in Embsay, North Yorkshire, have the enviable ability to reach speeds of 50mph, if local councillor Andrew Quinn is to be believed [Fred could probably do it with his power-assisted machine. IB] He also warned the Craven District Council last week that cyclists  through the village, which will host part of the Tour de France route in 2014, were “a law unto themselves” and that “wing mirrors have gone missing” from parked cars, while local policeman Chief Superintendant Higgins likened local cyclists to speeding motorcyclists.

Local cyclists themselves have pointed out on the website of the Craven Herald, which first reported the story, that cycling through the village at such speeds is virtually impossible and that collisions between cars and cyclists usually follow dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by the former, and usually  result in a trip to hospital for the latter  (Cycling Weekly, 14 March)

Quite so. And you do wonder what the people who campaigned so hard to get the first stages of the 2014 Tour to Yorkshire think of the likes of Messrs. Quinn and Higgins. Apart from anything else its going to bring literally millions of pounds into the local economy.  It’s been reported that nearly all the hotels and B&Bs were booked to capacity with nearly all the 100 rooms at one hotel in Harrogate booked for 5 July  2014  within hours of the announcement and the aptly named Cavendish Guesthouse sold out within a fortnight.

*          *          *          *          *

Any offers for rides from 26 May onwards?



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

25 March 2013


131. A 2nd Easter Meet The discussion continues

This appeared in “Cycling Notes” of the Clarion, 4 January 1896.

Re suggestions for the meet of Clarion cycling clubs for which I offered to find space in this column (I’m afraid it’s a column and a half now), “Pedaller” chips in with the following on behalf of the Bradford Club.:-


We believe that the object of the meet should be to get as many men together as possible, for we are sure everyone who was at Ashbourne felt the benefit of having rubbed shoulders with such a jolly, earnest lot as were gathered there.  Why waste time discussing things that can be thrashed out at home?  Let all the suggested places and date of meet be brought before each club, and voted upon and the results compiled.  When totalled, the result would be  bound to give satisfaction. When the agenda for the meet is ready let that also be treated the same way.. We suggest Skipton as the place of the meeting because it is central for the largest number of clubs. Those clubs extreme North and South could train part and ride the rest. We think Easter is too early because few riders are in fit condition for a long ride.

Before commenting upon “Pedaller’s” suggestion,I should like to hear what some of the other clubs have got to say on the question.

This topic concerns Hanley, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Oldham, Rochdale and many other Clarion clubs equally with Bradford and Manchester, and I hope to hear soon from them.

But stay,! Perhaps this month’s Scout may contain some suggestions from these clubs.; so I will hie me to my newsagent and purchase one.

Next time  More join the discussion.

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 March – Berwick Circular

14 March 2013

Ripe – Laughton – Shortgate – Uckfield – Waldron – Chiddingly

This is a “stop-gap” ride; as no-one else has offered a ride I have plucked this one from Surrey & West Sussex Cycle Tours by Nick Cotton (2010). It’s an adaptation of a longer ride which did not feature any railway stations (except Uckfield) and will be about 28 miles long. The book has a 5-level grading system, from “Easy” to “Strenuous”, and this one is in the middle, rated “Moderate”. However it may be slightly easier than that – the book says the hillier bits are in the northern part, which we are missing out (including the highest point, Hadlow Down). But please note that I have not done a recce – so we will be reliant on the book. There are no off-road sections.

The ride will cover some of the route of my Berwick – Blackboys – Glynde ride that we did in April 2011; but some of it will be new.

Lunch will be at the Station Inn at Uckfield at about 1pm. It’s a bit “plastic” but has real ale and a reasonable-priced menu with plenty of choice. On the way back to Berwick, we pass through Chiddlingly – so, a possible tea stop at the Six Bells.

Meet at Berwick Station at 10.45 (leave Brighton on the 10.20 train or earlier). Londoners will have to change at Brighton, Lewes or Polegate. Hopefully we will catch the 16.48 train back to Brighton (change at Lewes for London).

Anyone wanting a short ride (12 miles) and a long train journey can get the train home from Uckfield (via East Croydon – about a 2 hour journey).


The Last Ride: Sunday 10 March 2013 Hassocks – Woods Mill – Fulking – Newtimber

14 March 2013

Despite the grey and dank weather, with rain and snow forecast for later in the day, ten hardy souls met at Hassocks station on Sunday morning for a second attempt at Mick and Anne’s ride that had been scheduled earlier for 10 February, which had been postponed due to heavy rain and strong winds. Mick, Anne, Jenny, Joyce, Amanda, David, Linda, Julian, Michael and Peter set off at 10.30am for refreshments at Woods Mill Nature Reserve about six miles away, just south of Henfield. After only a few minutes, unfortunately Joyce didn’t feel too well and decided to return to Brighton for an invigorating sauna; we hope she gets her full strength back for the next ride.

Starting out at Hassocks

The route through Hurstpierpoint, Albourne and High Cross was straightforward, following good roads with only gentle hills, and after a debate between the ride leaders about where to go at the next junction, we headed south down Blackstone Lane and on to the picnic area at the nature reserve, where Anne provided welcome hot drinks and high energy snacks. As we had plenty of time to get to our lunch booking for 2pm at The Royal Oak in Poynings, we set off along the paved walk to explore part of the reserve, which we were told, offered all manner of Springtime nature: water shrews, snipe, green sandpipers, little egrets, barn owls, toads, wrens, bistorts, carp, great-crested newts and water rails. Some of us did spot a treecreeper (or it could have been a nuthatch?) running up the trunk of a distant silver birch; Julian pointed out a robin, and Mick found a white, lesser, pond spoon. Otherwise we had to content ourselves with a exhibition of habitats for beetles, slugs, frogs, hedgehogs and other endemic fauna.

Tea break at Wood Mills


Watching a treecreeper creep up a tree

Back-tracking along Horn Lane, we headed through Woodmancote and then turned south towards Fulking. Along the way we passed four llamas in a field, two Sheltand ponies and Anne said she saw a small ostrich, or it could have been an emu. As the Shepherd and Dog had been fully booked for Mothers Day, Mick and Anne had reserved a table at The Royal Oak at Poynings, where we arrived more than one hour early. Fortunately they could still takes us, but Anne and Peter had things other than food on their minds. Locking up her bike, Anne noticed something different about her equipment – her back pannier had disappeared! It had either fallen off at one of the various stops, or had been left behind at the picnic area at Woods Mill. What to do? Eventually Mick and Anne decided that after lunch they would cycle on to Hassocks station and lock their bikes up there, and Julian kindly offered to drive them back over the route to Woods Mill to see if it was still there. Meanwhile, Peter arrived ten minutes later with a big, beaming smile, pushing his bike back with a flat, rear tyre. This was a brand new bicycle he had just bought on the Internet and assembled that week for today’s ride. Unfortunately the inner tube could not be repaired and no-one had an similar spare, so he had to make a call to his back-up, support team who arrived from home within half an hour. The food at The Royal Oak proved to be excellent and reasonably-priced, with the lemon sole and fish pie specially recommended, and Harvey’s beer is always tasty and refreshing.

miniature pony

Amazing what you can see from a bike

Peter arrives with a flat tyre

Anne, Peter and Julian

After lunch, we made a brief visit to look at Newtimber Place, a Sussex moated house, built of flint and brick with a roof of Horsham stone. The original house was probably built by Richard Bellingham’s son, who was Sheriff of Sussex in 1567. The fields and woods around the house were full of flowering snowdrops and other spring flowers. In the mean time, Jenny decided to cycle directly back through Upper Beeding to her home in Portslade. By now, the temperature was falling rapidly, and we decided to forego any refreshments at Washbrook Farm and head straight back to Hassocks station via the B2117 and Hurstpierpoint. Before taking Julian’s lift back to Woods Mill, Mick advised me to follow the road under the railway tunnel and approach the platform on the other Brighton-bound side. This proved to be excellent advice, as it enabled me to catch up with Linda and Michael and be on the platform five minutes before they arrived panting from their exertions of carrying their bikes through two flights of stairs under the railway line. We waved goodbye to Amanda who was waiting for her train back to London.

Newtimber Place

The Moat

snowdrop wood nr Newtimber

Many thanks to Anne and Mick for organizing this very pleasant ride.


[More photos on Flickr]

News and Protest at AWE Aldermaston

14 March 2013

Dear fellow members and friends

Jenny tells me she is now “absolutely fine. The bruises are gone, no aches and pains.” She points out that I got it a bit wrong in the last newsletter. “I wasn’t really hit by a car, but the car turned across in front of me and stopped dead so to be completely accurate it was I who hit the car! It was still the fault of the driver though, who admitted she didn’t see me.” Good to hear that’s she’s OK.

Railways are a theme this time. Members will have seen Jim’s excellent piece in Boots and Spurs updating his investigation of the policies and practices of the train companies as regards facilities for taking bikes on trains. Plenty of negative experiences with our local Southern but some causes for cautious optimism elsewhere – notably the guidance seen last year for the “Cycle loading point” on Southampton station.

Back in January I included an account of a visit to the Clarion House at Roughlee by our friend Paul Salveson, I see that Paul’s new book Railpolitic: bringing railways back to communities is going to be published in June. He has a piece questioning the sense of the HS2 project in the current edition of Chartist which is also publishing his new pamphlet on radical alternatives to privatisation and de-regulation (Socialising Transport – a strategy for the left) is available price £2.

His current “Salvo” newsletter has some interesting info on the under-representation of women in rail management – a group called Women in Rail is being formed. That women have a foothold at all is, thinks Paul, partly due to the BR management trainee scheme of the 1970s. Another piece on “Great Female Locomotive Designers” includes the (surprising?) comment about the great local locomotive designer’s wife. “It was Mrs Stroudley who, over breakfast in their Brighton home, instructed her husband William to improve the lacklustre green livery of his engines.” Perhaps if she was still around we could get Southern to listen to Jim’s sensible suggestions!

Now we have solved the 24 March problem – thanks to Jim – we are OK for ride leaders up until 26 May – but it’s not too early for offers of rides from then onwards. Please let me know if you are interested in organising one (or more!)


* * * * *

Joyce writes:

Calling all Clarionets /Clarionistas (whichever suites). I know you can’t support vast sums of money being poured into the replacement of Trident, which is estimated at over £100 billion. It is surely obscene when there are cuts to the NHS, to public services, to benefits, and all this in our name.  
But there is something you can do to show your opposition: – Protest at AWE Aldermaston – Scrap Trident and cancel replacement
Monday – April 1.
There will be a coach picking up from Brighton organised by the Sussex Peace Alliance – cost around £13 depending on how many people. Let me or George Farebrother know if you are coming If so bring banners, music, but most importantly yourselves. More information on the CND website.



The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 131. More ideas for a 2nd Easter Meet

14 March 2013

At the beginning of 1896 nothing had been decided about the possibility of a second Easter Meet – not even whether there should be one – and if so, whether it should be at Easter or later. Tom Groom (aka the O Groomie O) wrote on behalf of Birmingham Clarion CC suggesting that the time had come to make a decision (see episode 129) His letter appeared in the Clarion on 21 December 1895. The following week Swiftsure reported:

Respecting the invitation  of the O’Groomie O for suggestions from Clarion Cycling Clubs re the Easter meet, the Manchester and District C.C.C. have resolved to support the proposal that the meet be at Easter, and that it is a delegate meeting only as far as business is concerned; but that it be a meet for pleasure and intercourse between any cyclists who choose to attend the rendezvous.

The place proposed by the Manchester Club is Bakewell, in Derbyshire, because it is the most central for the majority of our Clarion Cycling Clubs, being only 60 miles from Birmingham, 70 miles from Bradford, 68 miles from Halifax, 35 miles from Nottingham, 26 miles from Derby, 34 miles from Manchester and 65 miles from Liverpool.

The places of interest for which it is the centre are Haddon Hall, Chatsworth Hall, Buxton, Monsall Dale, Miller’s Dale, Matlock and the Derwent Valley.

Remembering what beautiful weather we had last year at our Easter meet at Ashbourne, I think the suggestion most excellent.

It need only be said that in order for cyclists to enjoy such a spot thoroughly, every rider would need an efficient brake on his machine.


Next time: The discussion continues