Rye – Udimore – Broad Oak – Brede High Woods – Powdermill Reservoir – Whatlington – Battle
This ride was originally intended as a repeat of my Rye-Hastings ride via the Brede Valley, which we did in July 2012, with the last few rather hilly miles replaced by a smaller number of less hilly ones. However, there are still a good few undulations, as the route cuts across several small valleys. I’ve also done a few extra tweaks to the route.
What we as a cycling club like is quiet, traffic-free, flat lanes. But what we tend to get is either undulating lanes or busy roads on the flat, and the choice is agonising. This time around I have decided to eschew the lovely, leafy, sunlight-dappled but undulating Stubb Lane in favour of a longer stretch of the level B2089, which does not seem to be a very dangerous road, at least not on weekdays. This means that, having set off on NCN2 and climbed to the ridge, we’ll stay on it all the way to Broad Oak, avoiding Brede and Sedlescombe, and instead skirt the large wood known as Brede High Woods, and catch sight of the huge dam that holds up Powdermill Reservoir. Those who like a bit of danger will be pleased to know that we have to cross the A21, a single-carriageway, two-lane trunk road with no central reservation!
We should reach Battle at around 4pm if the A21 spares us. The Abbey, which was built on part of the battlefield, is open until 5, and it costs £8 to get in, or maybe a little less for concessions (and free to English Heritage members). Is it worth it? I don’t know as I have not been in. The guide book says that much of it, including the monastery, was demolished or damaged over the years, although the gatehouse is certainly impressive. Perhaps if anyone does go in, the others can have a well-deserved tea stop at one of the many cafes nearby.
Start from Rye Station at 12:00. Length: about 16 miles. Duration: about 4 hrs inc lunch.
Terrain: Some NCN2, flat but slightly bumpy. Several quiet lanes and one not-too-busy B road. Oh, and that A21 crossing. There are about six uphill sections – mainly short, and with gradients no worse than 1 in 25.
Lunch will be at the Kings Head at Udimore, as last time, at about 1pm.
Getting there: The 10:20 from Brighton gets to Rye at 11:44, but note that this is two separate trains today (as is the 9:20), with a four minute change at Eastbourne which ought to be a guaranteed connection. I don’t know why they are doing that.
Londoners should leave Charing Cross at 9.25, changing at Hastings.
As is my custom I will take the earlier train (9:20) to avoid overcrowding; I am pleased to say that the late lamented Fat Controller café next to the station has been re-born as the Café des Fleurs and is open on Sundays, so that’s where you’ll find me. (Remember that you can walk to the Ashford end of the platform and then cross at the level crossing if you don’t fancy carrying your bike over the footbridge!)
Getting home: Trains leave Battle for Hastings at 24 and 46 minutes past the hour and London at 7 and 44 minutes past. Trains leave Hastings for Brighton at 3 and 19 minutes past (one of these requiring an additional change at Eastbourne). I’m afraid those going to Brighton will have to get their bikes over the footbridge at Battle, but I am sure we can manage that – fellowship being life, after all.
A return ticket from Brighton to Rye should be valid from Battle, and a return from London to Rye via Battle certainly shouldn’t present any difficulty!