The Next Ride: 7 July: NCN21 – The Final Onslaught (nearly!)

24 June 2013

Redhill Circular via Nutfield Marsh, Caterham Viewpoint, Woldingham and Godstone

Over the last two years I have led a series of rides featuring cycle route NCN21, which in its entirety runs from Eastbourne to Greenwich, via Polegate, Heathfield, Eridge, East Grinstead, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, Redhill, Caterham, Warlingham, Norwood and Lewisham. In the blurb for the final leg on 1 July last year, I confessed that I had “cheated and cut out about 7 miles” of the official route, to avoid a big hill. However this omission niggled me, and I eventually decided that I’d have to plug the gap with a “final final” ride.

This, however, is not that ride. The logistics of incorporating all of the missing bit, from Caterham Viewpoint to Spring Park in Shirley, were just impossible, given the need to get home avoiding too much of suburbia (and definitely East Croydon) while making the ride manageable. So on this ride we’ll do a further 4½ miles of NCN21 only; that means there will eventually have to be a “final final final final” version to include the rest of what I think should really have been described as a 12, not 7, mile gap. (Watch this space!)

This time, then, we’ll repeat the rather nice bit of NCN21 that we did on 15 May 2011, across the newly reclaimed Moors and Spynes Mere Nature Reserves (including the path that is still almost permanently under 3 inches of water – good news is they’re building it up, hope they’ll have finished by then!) and ascend the 80 metres onto the North Downs (walking!) in one fell swoop at an average gradient of 1 in 18. We’ll stop briefly at Caterham Viewpoint to admire the view and get our breath back (but no coffee unless you bring some!) After crossing the A22 (by bridge) we then have a continuous gently-downhill stretch nearly 3 miles long (remember school geography – the Downs have “inward facing scarps”). Much of this goes through the very opulent-looking Woldingham School, who have very kindly allowed the plebs to cycle through their grounds.

We’ll then say goodbye (for now) to NCN21 and have lunch at a garden centre (a Clarion first?) – Knights Nursery at Woldingham, who do light lunches including soup, sandwiches and jacket potatoes, as well as Spitfire bitter. Feel free to pick up some potting compost as well – but remember that you will, unfortunately, have to lug it back up the hill (remember, what goes down must come up!) This will be another 10 minutes of walking (100m ascent; average gradient around 1 in 15). But the good thing about this ride is that there really are only those two hills; the rest is flat to within a good approximation (as we scientists say). So after Woldingham village it’s a big whoosh (on the scarp) down to Godstone where there is a nice tea room on the green. Finally back to Redhill, the last 5 miles being the same as the outgoing route.

Meet at Redhill Station (Platform 3/Down Side exit, Redstone Hill) at 11:00.

Length: 25 miles
Duration: 7 hours including stops
Terrain: Mostly good, hard off-road paths. Some quiet lanes. Only 2 metres underwater!
Getting there: From Brighton take the 10:00 Victoria train (arr. 10:48). From London Victoria take the 10:27 Brighton train (Clapham Junction 10:33; Redhill 10:57).
Getting home: To Brighton direct at 58 minutes past the hour; with changes, also at 12, 14 and 34 minutes past. To London at 14, 37, 49 minutes past the hour.

The Last Ride: Three Bridges to Burgess Hill, 23 June

24 June 2013


Linda, Marilyn, Richard and Tessa travelled together to 3 Bridges sharing tales of organised group bike rides abroad and ones planned for the future.

We met Jim, Leon, Rob and Rob on the platform and set off through the suburbs of Crawley on a cycle track to Furnace Green leading to Tilgate Park. The park had a scary adventure playground weaving through treetops, a golf course and other entertainments.


The bike track continued through woods dappled in sunlight, purple rhododendron petals scattered on the mud due to the recent high winds, though there were plenty to be seen on the bushes too. As there had been rain recently, we voted for the A23 option rather than the muddy track when we came to a fork in the path.


[Leon and Jim “cooing” in Coos Lane]

We had a mile or so of A23 to Pease Pottage with a hairy roundabout to negotiate which we did in a group fell swoop before joining Cycle Route 20 to Handcross, a welcome quieter route. We crossed the A23 with a long swoop down Coos Lane to Slaugham Lake where we paused before the inclines that took us to charming Warninglid.


[Between Slaugham and Warninglid we went over a bit of the Ouse that I missed on my “Ouse rides” last year – so I thought I’d get a photo for posterity – Jim]

Strange sign

[We spotted this strange sign at Warninglid and wondered how the policy is enforced nowadays … Jim]

Spronketts Lane led to the A272, another hairy crossing, then straight on to Wineham and the Royal Oak for lunch.

Spronketts Lane

At some point in the morning, a fork in the road separated three of us from the rest of the group. Luckily Jim had a map so we rejoined the rest before straying too far. A resolve was made to wait at junctions and check for the person behind.

After lunch we set off down winding Bob Lane. Creatures with long necks were spotted momentarily through the high hedges, Alpaca? Llama? Ostrich? Not sure.

Job’s Lane was equally delightful and quiet then it was the dreary suburbs of Burgess Hill before reaching the centre. Five of us sat outside Nazar Cafe enjoying an abundance of chocolate and other cake, having been offered among other choices ‘Spotted Richard‘ with ice cream! Service and friendliness were great, Marilyn and Richard were even provided with bananas from the Polish Deli across the road.

Then home on the train, having avoided all rain, with even the wind behind us for the afternoon ride.

Thank you Leon for a splendid day out!



24 June 2013

Dear fellow members and friends

Please note the change in the “Future Rides” grid.   Changed circumstances mean that Roger can no longer do his mysteriously titled ride on 4 August.- and unfortunately it’s not possible because of train availability to move it to 18 August. But it will be re-scheduled for later the year – which I’m sure will delight classicists no end.

I was going to move my Chiddingly ride to the 4th and  can still do this.  But,thanks to Jim, I now realise that only the Hastings line is available on the 18th  which does limit the possibilities more than a little. [Actually all routes are OK that day – my mistake – sorry – Jim].  So, for the moment, at least, I’m leaving my ride on the 18th – with the possibility of moving it to 4th later.  But either way we do now need a volunteer (or volunteers) for either 4th or 18th August – any offers?

Jim asked me to include a  People’s Assembly report – which you will find below.

With the Tour de France almost upon us – starts on Sunday 30th in Corsica-  it seems a not inapproproate time to ask what about women’s racing.    You don’t have to be at all interested in the competive side of cycling to recognise that this is yet another field where the position of women is lagging –  when compared to, say, the situation in professional tennis.

Many years ago now someone said of the late Beryl Burton that had she been French she would have been as famous as Joan of Arc.  Since then things may have progressed a little –but, in spite of the well-earned fame of Victoria Pendleton, Lizzie Armistead, Laura Trott, Dani King, Jo Rowsell and a few others, there’s still a long way to go, Nicole Cooke spoke of the parlous state of women’s road racing but tried to be optimistic.  “I hope I will look on in 10 years’s time and see a vibrant and healthy women’s road scene, “ she said .

But the process is so slow.  One way to sense how slow is to go now to the end of this newsletter and read Swiftsure’s comments on the “ladies races at Olympia” back in 1896

But there is some progress.  Recently the CTC reported  “ our elite women’s road racing squad, put in a strong showing this week at the penultimate round of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series in Woking. The team finished fourth on the night and Tamina Oliver, who led for a large section of the race, a creditable 13th, despite a heavy crash earlier in the season.”

The CTC were far less impressed by Sussex Police refusal to accept reports from the CTC Road Justice campaign to its Operation Crackdown- in contrast to other parts of the country where such reports have led to successful prosecutions

And last week was “Bike Week”   I ask you!


* * * * *

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity: London, 22 June  Jim reports

I must admit I’d wondered whether this would be worth going to, or just another series of rousing speeches, telling us either how bad things are or that we are going to win (but not telling us how). What we wanted, I felt, was some practical ideas on how to organise and how to fight back.

Organising the conference itself must have been a logistical nightmare, with around 4,000 delegates, two plenaries and 15 parallel sessions. There were plenty of rough edges showing, and many of the contributions served only to confirm my fears. Yet there was a germ of hope. The People’s Assembly is meant to be a broad coalition, and we were exhorted, in a characteristically hilarious speech by Mark Steel, to abandon the left stereotype of arguing about our few differences and concentrate on building on our common ground.

One parallel session involved delegates breaking into regional groups and self-organising; the Brighton contingent, trying to make itself heard in a corner of a very noisy hall, brought the term “herding cats” once more to mind, but at least we all wrote our email addresses down and hopefully there will be local mailings and meetings.

The final plenary was the time for the rousing speeches – and none better than the one delivered by Tony Benn, who received a long standing ovation just for being there. I was particularly pleased to see Tony in such fine form; the last time I’d seen him, at the Stop the War conference in February, he had not looked well at all, and had remained seated; this time he stood, including when applauding the other speakers. Len McClusky of Unite got another standing ovation. Rania Khan, a councillor from Tower Hamlets, told an intriguing story of how her council has simply ignored the mantra that “there is no alternative” and managed to find one, keeping public services going and even offering university grants. I’d like to find out more about how they have managed this.

The final message came from an inspiring contribution by Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of PCS. After reeling off a list of policies that effectively constituted a manifesto for change, he signed off with the following words: “Sock it to these vicious ruling class bastards!”

Expect more from the People’s Assembly, including hopefully local meetings, and on the national scene, a big demo at the Tory conference in Manchester on 29 September, and a Day of Civil Disobedience on 5 November.


PS Looking at Flickr, I can see that our own Nick was also there and photographed many of the speakers – click here to view Nick’s photos.


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

24 June 2013

135. (the last one should have been numbered 134. – sorry). Oldham CCC and “the ladies races at Olympia.”

Two more items from “Cycling Notes” 25 January 1896.

Oldham C.C C Jan..18 ’96
Dear Swiftsure – Our members wish you to insert the following suggestions in your notes next week –

1. We are in favour of Bakewell being the place for Easter meet.

2. That the business meeting be a delegate meeting.

3. That the agenda be supplied to clubs as early as possible.

Yours fraternally, Thos. E. Massey

Swiftsure’s comment on the cycle racing organised by the NCU (National Cyclists’ Union) which for half a century or more was the main organiser of competive cycling in Britain.

The ladies races at Olympia are said to be as good sport as those for the opposite sex.. And it is quite certain they ride with a determination to win that delights the spectators immensely. Despite the amusement and horror of good old Mrs. Grundy, it is evident that ladies races have come to stay, and the N.C.U. might as well make up its mind to that effect, and endeavour to secure control over them.

Next time: More on the 2nd Easter Meet

The Next Ride: 23 June 2013 – Three Bridges to Burgess Hill via Wineham c 25 miles

13 June 2013

The ride will start at Three Bridges station and wend its way through the outskirts of Crawley and Tilgate park and through Tilgate forest to access Parish lane, thus avoiding the A23 at Pease Pottage hill.

Next we follow the Horsham road and Grouse road down to Bucks Head. Along Hammerpond road to Slaughham Common. Then south to Warninglid on Slaugham Lane and Spronket’s Lane down to the Royal Oak at Wineham for lunch.

Then Bob Lane to Twineham Green, Job’s Lane to Goddards Green and on to Burgess Hill for the return train journey to Brighton.

The route includes some off road through the park and forest at Tilgate. The surface is soil and will be muddy if wet.

The alternative will be to use the A23 Pease Pottage hill and the elevated roundabout over the M23 (not my choice for safety reasons).

There are hills but nothing too hard to walk.

Meet at Brighton station for the 10am train to Three Bridges. This will arrive at Three Bridges at 10.36am. Or meet at Three Bridges station car park at 10.40am. Return trains from Burgess Hill to Brighton are 01 minute – 28 minutes & 31 minutes past each hour.

For any returning to Three Bridges to collect a car the times are 13 minutes – 26 minutes & 56 minutes past each hour.

 If you are planning to come on this ride please contact Leon by text on  07713429822 to let him know.



13 June 2013

Dear fellow members and friends 

Now Anne and Mick have volunteered to take on the 21 July ride the first dates not covered are the two in September. So no great urgency but it’s never too early.

*          *          *

I’ve used extracts from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips” on a number of occasions recently. Here’s the latest update on theAudrey Fyle campaign and the new CTC  “Road Justice Campaign”.

CTC has launched a Road Justice Campaign to take to task the police, the prosecution services and the judiciary over the way they treat bad drivers. The launch of the campaign, which is supported by Slater and Gordon Lawyers, comes just days after the success of CTC’s campaign for an appeal of the ‘unduly lenient’ sentence given to Edinburgh driver Gary McCourt, who has now killed two cyclists. Since 2009, CTC has collected over 4000 reports of bad driving and has spoken directly to victims whose cases were not dealt with properly by the legal system. Road Justice has interviewed cycling victims such as Sarah-Charlotte Peace, who tells how the system failed her, compounding her suffering. CTC will work with such victims to help make bad driving.

*          *          *

A Message from Bob (complete with date!)

I’m organising the ESCA ‘100’ time trial on SUNDAY 18 AUGUST. Colette will be running the refreshments. They will be available all morning to midday at event HQ Dicker Village Hall. Clarionistas v welcome for a cuppa and cake, should your run take you that way.

Best wishes,

*          *          *

Finally, another message I received recently.  It’s from Bunty Tait

I have just been looking at your web site and was delighted to find a mention of the F.I.L.O. caff on Preston Road. My wonderful Dad & Mum were the owners. Does anyone remembers me – Bunty. I would love to reminisce about the cycling scene in the early fifties. Can anyone put me in touch with Alan Limbrey ?

If anyone can help, please contact Bunty on


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 133. Clarion badges and more support for Bakewell for 2nd Easter Meet 

13 June 2013

From Swiftsure’s “Cycling Notes” Clarion 25 January 1896

My correspondent “Collier” also wishes to know where the National
 Clarion badge can be obtained. I believe it can be had from the 
Clarion office, 72, Fleet Street, London E.C. price 1s, or, post free 
1s 2d

* * *

I have received the following communications respecting the annual 
meet of the Clarion Clubs:-


Dear Swiftsure
At a meeting of the C.C.C. Held this week the annual 
“meet” was discussed. The members were unanimous in supporting Bakewell as the best place for the “meet” and Easter as the best time for 
holding same. Bakewell for the “meet” on account of its central 
position from north and south. (of course it is impossible to suit all, 
but we think it will suit the majority); and Easter for the time, on 
account of its being convenient for most members of clubs getting two 
or three days liberty, whereas at Whitsun or other time most towns
 only have one day’s cessation. Bakewell only being a small place
 other means than “pubs” will have to be adopted for accommodation.
 There are a few small villages close to, where probably accommodation
 could be found. The Volunteers* are stationed there too at Easter, in 
the town hall mostly. The scenery in the district is charming, and
 will fully repay all who go if it be decided upon.

Yours fraternally,
Wm. Lawton, Sec. P.C.C.C.
18 Windsor Street, Hanley

* The Volunteers were a citizen army created in 1859 during a war scare about a possible invasion by Napoleon III. They were a colourful lot – for instance, in Nottingham Castle museum you can see the Lincoln green (naturally) uniforms of the local Volunteers – the Robin Hood Rifles. (And I always thought he used a bow and arrow!) They were reorganised into the Territorial Army in 1907.

Next time: Oldham CCC and “the ladies races at Olympia”

The last ride: 9 June 2013 – West of Chichester

13 June 2013

The Rediscovered Country from whose Bournes 10 Travellers Return

Actually 11+ met at Chichester station as our youngest ever Clarionette was there with his mum and dad, Joan and TJ – the tiny new arrival, Nye, and what a delight to see them. He had his pram so Joan had no bike, but joined us at Emsworth for lunch and teatime at Chichester Canal’s new shop. Angelica had also taken the train from London, with Rob, Mick and Anne driving and Richard, Roger, Tessa, Julian and David taking various Southern ‘expresses’.


Some of us had been on previous rides out that way and others rediscovered the Bournes from sailing days, but every Clarion ride is different with the changing seasons, weather and company.  Weather forecasts had been showing consistently sunny for days but when we awoke the same chilly east wind was blowing and no sun appeared from the white sky, so warm clothes were worn by almost all, David and TJ favouring shorts and Mick zipping off his zip-offs once warmed up and some sympathy expressed for the World Naked Bike Riders back in Brighton.

Roger led us along the South Coast Cycle Path out of the city into the countryside, under and over the railway lines and motorway 3, 4 or more times. The unguarded crossing with gates is being replaced by a bridge where work has now started  and finish times were said to be three weeks, though this was greeted with scepticism by a builder working there and certain of our members. After Fishbourne we saw three tiny lapwing chicks on the road with two anxious parents wheeling overhead.

We reached Bosham at what was agreed to be high tide in Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, but apart from a few puddles, were unimpeded by being almost entirely surrounded by water. Having not taken the usual group pic at the station, we paused at Nutbourne Marshes to drink in the peace and take some pics. 


A few of us made a brief side-tour to the artillery barracks entrance guarded by a tracked rocket launcher.

Cycling swiftly onto Southbourne warmed me up and I stopped at a crossroads to remove winter garb and bare my arms. Mick then got a phone call, so we both awaited the main group in a lay-by with three fields of shaggy ponies, which looked as if they may be used for pulling traps. There was a large van behind their field plastered with a picture of a camel and the letters CTC. Those camels keep cropping up in the most unexpected places on Clarion rides and beginning to wonder if CTC stands for Camel Touring Company. Maybe they’re preparing for global warming, certainly less polluting than cars and more fun! Here we saw a buzzard being dive-bombed by two crows.

CTC =Camels Touring Club[?]

Having been on Roger’s previous ride when we missed Thorney Island, I was delighted that we found it this time, with its charming cottages and peaceful lanes. Back on the road again we arrived at The Ship Inn, Emsworth, for lunch where Joan and Nye awaited us. Food was excellent value and arrived promptly; six veg + 2 sorts of potatoes with the small roasts for £6.75, thick veg soups, and various fishy dishes and fry-ups, as well as several takers for the puddings.

baby Nye aat lunch with TJ & Joan.

We rode off again along the delightful Lumley Road with a brook running alongside on our left, in front of pretty cottages, until the small waterfall and the elegant blue and white Lumley Mill House and its garden.

Lumley Road group-Annes'pic

Passing through the gates of the house the track became rougher and soon we were on a footpath alongside a large field. It was a narrow path along the field edge parallel to the A27 and seemed very long, a bit too long for some of us, who got lost in its longness. It was quite testing and tough to admire the views as you needed to concentrate on the ground beneath your wheels in order not to be thrown off into the luxuriant barley crop. I was quite relieved that there were still 10 of us, who eventually emerged onto a real road south of Westbourne, with some extra help from Roger. I do remember it from a previous Clarion ride, when I walked and pushed and relaxed more.

irresistible pigs

After Woodmancote the road undulated with roadside verges bright with spring blossom and trees full of varied birdsong. Julian heard a greater spotted woodpecker and “a little bit of bread and no cheese” sung by a chaffinch. There was hardly any traffic and I was able to spot some irresistible pigs and piglets over the road and stopped to snap them. Rob, acting as backstop, accompanied me and enquired about the tall wooden tower near the pig farm. The owner said it was an experimental radar tower from 2nd World War, which he was trying to turn into a spectacular home, though the planners were objecting. Back on the road Rob wondered why we couldn’t see Chichester Cathedral from this vantage point south of West Ashling, but it must have been because Spring had finally arrived and we were so used to the bare branches of that long winter, though still not sunny.

wooden radar tower

Warm enough though to enjoy a cup of tea at the new and enlarged Chichester Old Ship Canal Basin tea-shop where Joan and Nye rejoined us. David bought some excellent fair trade cookies which we shared, bringing the trip to a convivial conclusion. Thanks very much to Roger for leading us for about 19 miles to the Bournes and back again. No “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in guise of punctures, nor “Sea of troubles” by way of high tide at Bosham sweeping in on us, but 11+ wanderers wended our way homeward.


See a video of the ride by Rob

The next ride: Sunday 9 June – Wandering West of Chichester

3 June 2013

(or The Four Bournes (or Thorney Island resurrected))

This is a gentle and fairly flat ride for those who haven’t been doing much cycling lately and need to ease themselves back into the saddle – i.e. me.
We leave Chichester past the college and skirt the edge of the Roman Villa at Fishbourne. Then down to Bosham for a brief discussion on how to pronounce it. Next there’s a stretch on the A259 with a cycle path part of the way.

We will pass through Nutbourne and then Southbourne, where we will take a short detour to investigate Thorney Island. This is not really an island: most of it is a military base – that’s why the detour is short. Those who were on my previous ride when I attempted this detour will remember that I missed the turning. It’s easily done!

So, having now got three of the bournes out of the way we arrive at Emsworth for lunch at the Ship Inn.

The good news is that the return route to Chichester is shorter. The bad news is that it has some hills, but nothing serious. We ride up Lumley Road, past the old mill. The road then becomes a track and eventually a path, which takes us past Westbourne (bourne number 4). And so onto quiet country roads through Woodmancote and West Ashling to Chichester.

Meet: 11:00 at Chichester Station
Getting there: 10:00 train from Brighton (10:03 from Hove) or 10:19 from Hove
Distance: 20 miles (approx.)
Hills: A few short ones on the return journey
Off road? About a mile of track and field-side path
Catering: Lunch at the Ship Inn, Emsworth – traditional pub food; tea at Chichester canal for those who want it before catching the train
Getting home: Trains leave Chichester for Hove and Brighton at 15:15*, 15:23, 15:53, 16:23, 16:27, 16:53, 17:15*, 17:23, 17:53 (*change at Hove for Brighton)
My mobile: 0789 985 1172


The Last Ride: Sunday 26 May 2013 – Hassocks Circular

3 June 2013

This was a stunningly pretty ride at a time of year when the Sussex lanes and countryside possibly look at their best. We had wonderful weather, bright sunshine with a light breeze, perfect for a bike ride.

Pictorial map at Hassocks station;never had time to notice it before, but it looks worth searching for in local shops.DSC00850

Eleven of us set out from  Hassocks, Helen and I having come by car and Ian, Leon, Joyce, Corinne, Mick, Ann, Roger, Julia and David arriving by train.  But we became twelve in Underhill Lane when a smiling man cycled towards us and asked if we were the Clarion Riders. This was Rob and we were very pleased to welcome a new rider.

At the windmill[left],with Downs on right;Helen in centre.By Anne.DSC00847

So, off we rode towards Westmeston Church, turning left at Streat Lane and at this time of year the lanes are laced with cow parsley and a smattering of bluebells. Along the route we met many walkers who looked unbelievably exhausted and we could not believe that they had walked through the night and the day before, walking 100k, yes, you read it correctly, for various charities. We were astounded by their motivation and commitment.

After a couple of miles we arrived at The Plough at Plumpton Green for a little ‘drinking’ stop, to hear music blaring out from an adjacent field. On investigation, it appeared that it was a 150th birthday party! Well, not quite. Three people were celebrating their 50th birthdays at the same time!

Sunny Sunday for Helen's Hassocks Circular,nr the end. By Anne.DSC00849

Then on we cycled through such pretty lanes until we reached the pub at Wivelsfield Green to have lunch [The Cock Inn]. Everyone seemed to really like this pub. The food was really good and it was very reasonably priced.


After lunch we cycled up and down One Hundred Acre Lane and Spatham Lane, which were as lovely as the lanes before, and we arrived in Ditchling. At this point, Joyce, Ian, Corinne and Julia decided to go straight back to Hassocks Station. The rest of the group stopped for tea in Ditchling before proceeding up to Oldland Mill. The view from the mill is stunning. It is a feast for the eyes. Next year we were thinking it would be great to do this ride again but to organise it at a time it when the tea shop at the mill is open.

Near Hassocks on the last section of Helen's ride.

From the Mill, it was not far back to the station at Hassocks. Thank you, Helen, for planning and organising such a lovely and memorable ride.