The Next Ride: Sunday 5 April 2015 – Easter Bonnet Ride from Lewes to Newick and Back

25 March 2015

Quiet lanes, rural pubs, neo-nazis and an old workhouse.

Celebrate Easter by dressing up (optional) – an Easter bonnet, fancy 
dress, and Easter egg, your plus-fours and tweed, or whatever.

Getting there:

Step boldly onto the 11.09 from Brighton to Lewes. The train 
continues to Seaford, so there should be lots of room for bikes. (If
 you miss this/can’t get on it, the 2 coach Ashford train leaves at 11.20 arriving shortly after the Seaford train. But ring or text me on 
07901533876 if you are doing this).

Leave the station by the side entrance on platform 1 to avoid the road
works. Meet your intrepid leader in the car park at 11.30, by the
 platform exit.

The ride
About 19 miles of gently undulating countryside. A longish, gentle
 uphill through Spithurst after lunch but nothing too serious. The 
general trend is up towards Newick and Down after.

We start by navigating craftily through the back alleys and secret
 cycle ways of Lewes to emerge at the base of the new cycle route to 
Ringmer (not yet open) 100 metres of A26 follows and then a left turn 
onto bucolic Wellingham Lane. We then visit Barcombe mills, passing 
over the toll bridge (no charge for cyclists).

We then keep straight 
ahead past the old Barcombe Mills station to reach the Royal Oak at 
Barcombe where we will take lunch in this unspoilt local pub. 

We then cruise up the incline through Spithurst and visit Newick, with
its attractive village green.

Behind this rural charm is something 
else. Green Party tellers say that in the last election only 
Peacehaven had more votes for the BNP than Newick (in Lewes 
district). Quickly we descend to Chailey where there will be the
opportunity to sample the delights of the Horns Lodge pub if you wish.
 The pub wins all kinds of awards but the landlord wants out, saying 
that it is too much work. We then visit the site of the Chailey 
Workhouse, now bijou dwellings, before returning towards Lewes using
 tiny lanes through the East Chiltington area.

Finally there will be the opportunity to sample the fleshpots of Lewes 
including the hole in the wall tea facility in delightful Grange
Gardens, before returning to Brighton by trains which run 3 times an hour.

I have booked a table for 8 at the Royal Oak in Barcombe, so I need to 
know numbers. Please email me on or 

Chris Smith

The Last Ride: Sunday 22 March 2015 – Polegate to Birling Gap

25 March 2015

An overcast and cool spring morning attracted 17 cyclists to Jim’s ‘Polegate to Birling Gap (and back)’ ride. A relatively short route of 14 miles took us through Wannock, Filching, Jevington, Friston and a private residential road through the exclusively posh residences of East Dean.

The start at Polegate

The seventeen gathered at Polegate station for Jim’s ride were: Jim, Nick, Joyce, Leon, Anne, Mick, Angela, Sikka, Tessa, Richard, Delia, Rob, Fred, Julian, Roger and David.

Broken brake

[After the usual palavers when 17 cyclists with disparate bikes & journeys to the start point – ie Joyce’s missing gloves & Delia’s catching front brakes, plus having the group photo taken by a volunteer passer-by – we set out South over the level-crossing & past the traffic lights. Delia’s brakes had been examined by our best bike mechanics after their bashing in her car boot. Rob said she shouldn’t ride it as brakes were unsafe, but she decided to give it a go & tackled the hills easily. It wasn’t until after lunch at The Tiger that Jim, our leader, managed to fix the brake problem properly & she was grateful. – Anne]

Through the gates

The seventeen braced themselves for the unrelentingly steep hill leading out of Polegate towards Wannock and Filching. After completing the arduous climb in the lowest gears possible, we reaching the summit near Jevington and took the A259 for most of the route to the Tiger Inn lunch stop.

Top of the hill

The Tiger Inn was busy, so some of the group opted for lunch in the Hikers’ Rest cafe instead. Back in the pub, chips were being served in trendy metal buckets and Fred’s cauliflower soup was presented with a crouton floating like an island in the centre of the bowl. I was quite surprised to have my grated cheese and tomato baguette handed to me wrapped in cellophane without a plate, but perhaps they thought I was taking the food away with me. Apologies to the Tiger Inn staff for the specks of grated cheese I left behind at my table.

Lunch inside the Tiger

After lunch, we wandered over to the unofficial ‘Sherlock Holmes lived here’ blue plaque and marvelled at Jim’s bike maintenance skills as he mended Delia’s faulty front brake. Leon, Joyce, John, Delia and Mick (rather impressively cycling all the way back to Brighton!) took a left turn after leaving the Tiger Inn. For the rest of us, a right turn out of the pub led us down to the nearby Birling Gap.

Jim'll fix it!

We had just finished lunch so didn’t stop for a cup of tea in the Birling Gap cafe, but did stop to look at views of the Seven Sisters and a house built seemingly precariously close to the cliff. The sun even came out for a while during our brief stay there. Perhaps a pity we didn’t have time for a cup of tea in the Birling Gap cafe, which seems to have improved greatly since the National Trust took over ownership.

Birling Gap

Birling Gap

After leaving Birling Gap, the plan was to have a cup of tea in the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre. Unlike Washbrook Farm during our ride two weeks ago, there was no option to drink tea without paying a £6 admission fee. We all agreed this was an unnecessary expense and decided to try the Eight Bells pub for an afternoon cuppa instead. David, Anne, Angela and Jim stuck with the afternoon cuppa option in the pub, while the rest of us cycled back to Polegate to head back on a packed train to Brighton. I bumped into Jim later in the evening at a comedy benefit in Brighton, but forgot to ask him about the Eight Bells afternoon tea experience. Hopefully photos of the tea and cake break will appear on the Clarion Flickr site soon.

Nick, with additional reporting by Anne.

The Eight Bells

Afternoon Tea at the Eight Bells

[Many more photos – including close-ups of food – on Flickr]

Delia adds: I cycled the whole route from Polegate to Birling Gap and back. My brakes were fixed at the start and I was one of the front riders up THE hill. I would have liked a mention for being one of those achieving the HILL. I didn’t meet everyone on the ride as we were split for lunch so perhaps the writer of the report didn’t know who I was – I don’t think there was another Delia!

Leon adds: The four of us set off from the Tiger public house after our fond farewells to the group. We walked up a steep pathway along the side of a very dangerous section of the A259.

At the top with a ‘T’ junction Rob left us to ride back to Heathfield via Polegate, while Mick and John sped off to Brighton. Joyce and Leon cycled along the A259 to the Cuckmere Haven where we left the main road and spent a very pleasant half hour cycling the National Cycle Route 2 along the river Cuckmere and over the downs to Seaford where we got the train back to Brighton.


25 March 2015

Dear All

I’ve heard about one or two possibilities for rides a little later in the year.  But so far no one has “bagged” 19 April which should be the next ride after Chris’s on 5th.  As I said in the message I sent out last week I shall be away until just before the next newsletter is due out, starting on Monday 30 March, so it would be useful to have a definite offer – though not necessarily the ride details –  before then.  Bear in mind that rail routes eastward (Hastings and Seaford) are not available that day.

Mention of Chris reminds me that you might find his Travel Log site of interest. Have a look at it at

Annual Conference at the Llangollen Easter Meet
I have received agenda details from Ian Clarke. I will be forwarding it to your shortly   As far as I can see – after admittedly a very quick look at the motions – I don’t think there is anything we would regard as controversial or that necessitates us to have a meeting to mandate our delegates.  But if anyone disagrees I will, of course, convene one.  Otherwise I suggest we just ask our delegates to listen carefully to the arguments, confer together, and vote accordingly  Let me know if you disagree – especially if you are going to the Meet.

Julian tells me that some people who seemed to have dropped out of our club have rejoined since the last newsletter.  But there are still 8 members from last year who haven’t. Seems rather a lot – but I’m not going to start nagging people. No doubt the obvious thing to do is accept that they are not coming back – nobody has to and we won’t get upset about it ,  and – as the saying is – “move on”. But in spite of what I said last time I thought I’d just have one final go at a reminder.  Those who paid in December and January, please forgive me!

The subscription fee is £8. Send your cheque to Julian Arkell,Treasurer, 17 Normandy House, 18 The Drive, Hove, BN3 3JB

Alternatively you can pay by BACS but if you do it is vital lhat you let Julian know that you have done so.  Email Julian at to confirm.

Any problems, phone Julian on: 01273 911342.

It’s never too late to change
Unless you already receive the CTC’s “Cycle Clips” you won’t have seen this

Is age just a number? Many octogenarians are as fit and active today as when they were younger and some are less so. But it’s still possible to reinvent yourself, no matter how old you are. Which is why CTC says that it’s time two 80-year-olds should now be reviewed: the driving test and the 30 mph speed limit, both of which were devised in less frantic times.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 179. Where to hold the 3rd Easter Meet

25 March 2015

Clarion 18 March 1897

Leek CCC pleads its cause – but there’s lots of competition.


The Next Ride: Sunday 22 March 2015 – Polegate to Birling Gap (and back again)

11 March 2015

This ride was motivated mainly by the fact that we haven’t done it before (but correct me if I’m wrong, which I may well be).

Anyway it’s a nice short ride along a fairly minor road with a few ups and downs. We can walk up the ups and sail down the downs. On the way we’ll go through Wannock, Filching, Jevington, Friston and East Dean. The latter is a bit posh, I’m afraid, but hopefully they won’t mind us riding through their opulent private estate to escape the fury of the A259.

Lunch will be at the Tiger pub at East Dean at about 12.15. They don’t actually take bookings for Sunday lunchtimes but reckon we will be OK. And they are happy for me to ring them when we start and remind them we’re coming. It is a fairly early lunch slot, and it isn’t Mothers’ Day, so there should not be a problem.

Then it’s a short ride to Birling Gap where we can wander about a bit, perhaps have a cup of tea, but it probably won’t be warm enough for a dip!

On the way back – the same way, I’m afraid, there really is no alternative – we can pop in at the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre if we fancy it – there may be lambs.


Length: about 14 miles.

Duration: about 4½ hours, including lunch and pottering-about time.

Start at Polegate Station at about 11:00.

Trains: The good old 10:20 from Brighton will get us there on time; as usual I will probably take the earlier train, possibly the 9:42 which seems to be an extra train. I’m afraid it’s not a good day to be travelling from London as there are buses on the way. Really dedicated Londoners can get there via London Bridge and Hastings, but bring a fat book to read on the way!

Return trains from Polegate to Brighton at 6 and 42 minutes past the hour.


The Last Ride: Sunday 8 March 2015 – Hassocks to Poynings

11 March 2015

Sunday’s Clarion ride, organised by Mick and Anne, took us from Hassocks railway station via Woods Mill Nature Reserve and Poynings in pleasant morning spring sunshine, followed by cooler and more overcast weather after lunch for the return ride to Hassocks.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

The Hassocks Clarion fifteen gathered outside Hassocks railway station were: Anne, Mick, Helen, Dave, Joyce, Leon, Chris, David, Sikka, Angela, Rob, Julia, Corinne, Nick and Sean.

Snwdrops at woods by Newtimber

Mick suggested a brisk pace for the cyclists in order for us to arrive at the lunch stop in Poynings as close to noon as possible.The Royal Oak were trying to accommodate our group ahead of the busy Sunday lunch trade.
Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Woods Mill Nature Reserve was a popular first stop of the day. There were plenty of snowdrops on display close to the nature reserve pond. Although we could hear plenty of birdsong, we had limited time to explore the variety of wildlife in the nature reserve. It would be good to return again in the future to see the nightingales, woodpeckers, warblers, turtle doves and dragonflies listed in the Woods Mill Nature Reserve information sheet. The Sussex Wildlife Trust had a number of free pamphlets for visitors to take away. I picked up information leaflets on urban foxes, squirrels and Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve (also run by Sussex Wildlife Trust).

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

The next planned stop after Woods Mill Nature was the lunch stop at the Royal Oak in Poynings. There was a slight delay reaching the lunch stop due to problems with Sean’s bike chain. Dave was able to fix the twisted chain during an emergency roadside repair, while I took a few photos.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

Sean’s pitstop bike repair resulted in some of us arriving later at the Royal Oak than was planned. We spent lunch in an upstairs function room, away from the very busy bar downstairs. I dined on chips and ketchup, but there were more exotic dishes available (the soup option favoured by some looked particularly appetising). Joyce did a fine job working through the till receipt at the end of the meal to decide how much we each needed to contribute to the bill.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

Despite lunch taking longer than some previous Clarion meal breaks, we still had time for a tea-stop later in the afternoon. With photographs of animals on the walls to remind us we were in a farm, we spent thirty minutes in Washbrook Farm drinking tea before heading back to Hassocks railway station.

Woods Mill

Sean spotted a reasonably well-known BBC TV football pundit as we cycled through the mean streets of Hurstpierpoint. We were still trying to remember the name of this mystery football presenter (Jonathan somebody?) as we waited for the train at the end of Anne and Mick’s excellent bike ride.


More photos on Flickr

News and subs

11 March 2015

Thanks to Chris, we have a ride for 5 April. The exact route and full details will be in the next newsletter as usual.

So now we are looking for volunteers for 19 April and the three May rides. With 15 people out on Sunday it shouldn’t be too difficult to find volunteers.

Membership and Subs

I’ve had a message from Julian listing ten people who have still not renewed their membership – and, as he says, are (technically) no longer members as of the end of February.

Now it may be that in some cases this is because people no longer want to belong to the B&H Clarion. We’re not in the business of twisting anyone’s arm. But looking at the names on the list I find it much more probable that – in most cases at least – it’s a case of just meaning-to-but-never quite-getting-round-to-it – and then forgetting that you haven’t done it. It happens to us all.

But I don’t want to use every  newsletter nagging people about subs. For one thing it soon gets a bit tiresome for those who have sent their membership fee in. So please forgive me for giving the details one last time

The subscription fee is £8. 

Send your cheque to Julian Arkell, Treasurer, 17 Normandy House, 18 The Drive, Hove BN3 3JB.

Alternatively you can pay by BACS but if you do it is vital that you let Julian know that you have done so. The details were in your newsletter.

Email Julian at to confirm.

Any problems, phone Julian on: 01273 911342.

28 June

Yes, I know it’s a while yet, but – as some of the people referred to in the previous entry can confirm – time does tend to gallop on. When I worked out the dates for this year I was careful to avoid the beginnng and end of BST – someone always forgets and turns up either an hour late or an hour early at the start – and the date of the London-Brighton bike ride – wretched train company refusing to take cyclists. But now I’ve just been sent the preliminary details of the Capital to Coast charity ride on 28 June. There are a number of options offered from 40 to 100 miles. I don’t know whether this event is likely to have any impact on planning out own ride on that day – but it’s something whoever is going to organise it – which might be me if I’m fit by then – need to be aware of.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s:  178. Plans for the 3rd Easter Meet

11 March 2015

Clarion 18 March 1897