The Next Ride:

24 September 2015

Sunday 4 October 2015 Chiddingly – 17/18 miles

To begin with, I just thought it would be quite nice to visit Chiddingly and the Six Bells. Then I remembered that it must have been about the same time of year when – at Fred’s suggestion – we visit the Chiddingly Festival in 2008. So, I resorted to Google and, sure enough, 4 October is the last day of the 2015 edition.   A further incentive materialised when I had a look at the festival brochure and spotted listed in the Artists’ Open Studios section “ Tessa Wolfe Murray Ceramics”

It’s not clear what may be available this time but Suzanne’s ride report for 28 September 2008 (see the old website) mentions stalls selling “local, homemade pies, wild boar sausages, venison burgers or veggie platter.” She also says that the route seemed more downhill than uphill – so we’ll stick to that. We’ll leave the Vert Woods track which is bound to be even more waterlogged than the one mentioned in Anne’s report strictly alone this time!

Taking a pretty direct route we should arrive early enough to check out what’s on offer or to retreat to the Six Bells – but if you’re anxious about food you could always bring an emergency sandwich!

So, we’ll meet at Berwick station, make for Ripe by the usual route, take Ripe Lane down to Golden Cross, traverse (can’t have “Cross, cross”) the A22 with the greatest of care, and follow the signposts (including the one in the famous photo of Picasso near Farley Farm – talking of which I see the Imperial War Museum is putting on an exhibition of Lee Miller’s Second World War photographs under the title “Lee Miller, A Woman’s War” from 15 October till 24 April 2016. Well worth a visit, I think.)

After rest and refreshment at Chiddingly we will continue on to East Hoathly with a stop en route at The Quadrilateral to visit Tessa’s ceramics. After that, when we reach the A22 again we have to do a mile on that busy main road before escaping onto the road through the woods down to Stone Cross then down via Mark Cross, Ripe, and Chalvington back to Berwick station – with the possibility of a cuppa at the Berwick Inn,

Catch the 10 12 from Brighton or meet at Berwick Station at 10 35. Trains back are at 41 minutes past the hour.

Do check your emails at 5 pm the day before – if the weather looks like being really grim I will cancel/postpone.

My mobile number is 07770743287


The Last Ride. Anne‘s Report

24 September 2015

Sunday 20 September 2015: Ups & Downs, Swings & Roundabouts.

Jim had crafted a clever ride linking Balcombe Station with Wivelsfield Station, which had recently had a new sloped entrance built-ideal for cyclists heading for Brighton. Balcombe’s cycling access was only on the Northern side, with flights of steps impeding cyclists going in reverse directions. Wivelsfield was similarly blighted on its London side. So Jim devised a 22mile ride suitable for our Clarion Club, i.e. on quiet roads & with a hospitable pub for lunch.

Mick had decided to cycle from home to Balcombe, taking 27 extra miles, as he had a few detours. The remaining 8 of us caught the 10.00 train from Brighton. Fortunately no long queues at the ticket office & machines, though there were barriers being put up to cater for the crowds heading out to the Amex Stadium for the Rugby World Cup. This caused some confusion as passengers tried to find their way to the trains in a hurry!

Ours was a 12 carriage Victoria train, so there were 2 bike compartments. Julian was installed in the 1st one & met & escorted me, Sue, Tessa & Jim along to the 2nd one. Kate, Roger & Nick joined him in the nearer, back end of the train. Bit of a panic on arrival at Balcombe when they were informed that they had to move up the train to alight as the platform was too short, but, it wasn’t & all emerged onto the long platform. Mick had only just arrived, having taken 2 hours cycling via Stanmer Park & Ditchling Beacon[descent].

L-R Sikka, Tessa, Julian, Kate, Mick, Jim, Roger, Nick

Balcombe is a beautiful spot but hilly & we rode up & down, but, has to be said, mostly up, through woods in bright sunshine, with super views from our elevation. First stop was a lay-by opposite the Balcombe Viaduct for a photo op.

The Viaduct_1

Julian noted all the birdsong & told us we’d heard a nuthatch & I mistook a cockerel for a pheasant. A few other cyclists either flew past us, or joined us toiling up a hill or two. We passed over bridges on the mainline railway, under a bridge on the Bluebell Line steam railway & over a small stream of River Adur & another of River Ouse. We heard the chuffing of the Bluebell Line train & glimpsed it passing through the woods from a small hilly pit-stop.

Feeling hungry by now, we had to pass The Sloop Inn, which enjoyed a prime position & looked very peaceful & attractive, though it sported a sign saying “closed for refurbishment” as Jim had forewarned. So onwards & upwards it had to be & after another 2 miles we reached The Inn on the Green at Scaynes Hill, having divided again at one point, where 8 of us took the off-road option & Mick took the A road route,2 miles extra, but he still managed to arrive 15 minutes before us.

September 20, 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

At the start of the bridleway to Lindfield

This may have been due to my trepidation on the rough track, which was bit muddy in some places. However, we had the woods to enjoy & emerged at a part of Lindfield unknown to me before.

Julian on the bridleway

Julian on the bridleway

We were not far away from Scaynes Hill & soon arrived at The Inn on the Green, which had large front garden set well back from the road, with a pond, a large back garden, several spacious dining rooms & a bright, atrium style, sunny room. Food was fine & varied, whitebait, roasts, child roasts [from local pigs], salad nicoise, ham & eggs, haddock & chips, apple crumble, all arrived promptly & were enjoyed. Some went outside to soak up the sunshine & relax. Some found the prospect of having to return to the cycling daunting, but we all managed it, as we had another 9-10 miles to do before the train.

About 3 miles from Wivelsfield a sign on the road announced “cream teas” & so it was agreed that we would stop at the farmhouse & Mick, who had raced on past the sign, was summoned by phone & soon reappeared.

September 20, 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

Oakwood Farm proved a delightful spot; well off the road, in a sunny garden with autumnal colours showing in the trees & a swing which proved fun for all. Tea & scones with jam & cream, then a visit to their upstairs toilet revealed a huge model railway layout, some vintage & classic sports cars & interesting posters & pictures:

Kate on the swing

September 20, 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

September 20, 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

We cycled by Chailey Common[didn’t see any sheep], along Green Lane, Jane’s Lane & Stony Lane & arrived at Wivelsfield station, with its new ramp with only 5 minutes to wait for the hourly train.

The ramp at Wivelsfield

The new ramp at Wivelsfield station

That turned out to be another 12 coacher, so plenty of room for all the bikes. Thanks to Jim for his meticulous planning of a fine ride & his shepherding skills & care of his troupe. Everyone had a lot of fun, exercise for legs, hearts & lungs & welcome relaxation among the woods of the wonderful Sussex Weald. Fortunately this time blessed by fine , autumnal weather, unlike Jim’s previous two brave rides when the rain & the wind prevailed on almost all Clarionettes, apart from the most hale & weather-proofed.



24 September 2015

Dear All

When I returned from holiday I found that there’d been no “next ride” volunteers and decided that now I am able to “back stop” again I’d offer one for 4 October.  Since then I have had an offer from Sikka but since I had already worked out my details and written them up – and it is, as you will see, a bit of a special occasion – I decided to go ahead and ask her to consider taking on one of the remaining November rides instead if possible.

Tessa has sent me a reminder:

I will be exhibiting at the Brighton Art Fair for the first time on the weekend of 25-27th September. I will be showing my range of ceramic wallpieces, with a small selection of vessels on Stand 87.   Also showing at the Art Fair will be my fellow May Festival Open House exhibitors, Sam Lock with paintings, and Christina Fedyk with monoprints.

Do take a look of you can – but see also my notes on “The Next Ride”

I was also intending to offer our usual short “end of the year” Berwick circular ride on 13 December but on checking the rail times discovered that there seems to be no trains – as distinct from replacement buses – beyond Lewes in that direction either on that date or for the previous two “Clarion Sundays” in November.  So I’ll have to save it till early in the New Year.

Good to hear that Lucas and Leon finally managed to climb Ditchling Beacon – and in less than ten minutes!  I don’t think I could manage that these days.

Re “Cycling in the 1890s”  Does the Vegetarian Cycling Club still exist?  Anyone know?

Finally, a rather bizarre item from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips”

A US cyclist has found that future road conditions might be even more challenging for cyclists after the introduction of driverless cars. The rider in Austin, Texas had a two-minute stand-off with a self-driving vehicle at a junction after he decided to perform a track-stand before proceeding. Google claims that the vehicles will be able to interpret cyclists’ hand signals….

Fortunately, not many of us  use a fixed wheel!


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

24 September 2015

From “Cycle Trifle” Clarion 26 March 1897:



The Next Ride : Sunday 20th September 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

8 September 2015

Lindfield/Ardingly – Freshfield – Scaynes Hill – North Chailey

Wivelsfield station has always been effectively “out of bounds” for Clarion rides because of the 62 steps we would have to carry our bikes up on the way back. But recently I’ve noticed, while passing through on the way to London, that a ramp has appeared on the southbound platform. Unfortunately, there is no sign of a ramp on the northbound platform … yes, Wivelsfield station is now officially semi-step-free! So if you were in a wheelchair, you could go from Wivelsfield to Brighton by train but not back again (unless you changed at Haywards Heath and used the lifts there).

Balcombe station has always been semi-step-free, of course, and what’s more, the accessible side is the northbound platform. So this ride suggested itself – in fact, it did more than that, it insisted on being brought into life, despite having its fair share of undulations.

The ride incorporates (in reverse) sections of previous rides, including my Lewes-Haywards Heath (Ouse II) and Haywards Heath Circular (Ouse III) rides from 2012.

We set off through Balcombe village and get a splendid view of the Ouse Valley viaduct before crossing the river at Upper Ryelands Bridge. Then eastwards along Copyhold Lane to High Beech Lane.

There is a short cut to Lindfield here along a bridleway. It may be bumpy or muddy, or both. We can decide on the day whether to take it. If not, we can go on the road, reaching Freshfield via Ardingly, and adding 2 miles.

From Lindfield we take a possibly new-to-us route (Park Lane and Plummerden Lane) to Freshfield and then North Chailey, re-crossing the Ouse twice more and also the Bluebell line twice. The route passes two pubs but – Sod’s law! I found out after doing the recce that the King’s Head is closing (for good) on the 15th September, and the Sloop does not reopen until October. So I’m afraid I have had to resort to choosing a pub “remotely”; it’s the Inn on the Green at Scaynes Hill, which requires a small (2 mile) detour from our route.

After lunch we cross Chailey Common, where there are interesting curly-horned black sheep grazing by the side of the road. We then take in all the Wivelsfields – Wivelsfield Green, Wivelsfield itself, and Worlds End, which is where the station is, although it’s really a suburb of Burgess Hill these days.

Distance: 20 miles (or 22 if avoiding the bridleway)

Duration: about 5½ hours

Terrain: see above. The short sections of A275 and A272 have footpaths. There are undulations, but not many after Park Lane.

Start at: Balcombe Station, platform 1 exit, 10:30

Getting there: Take the 10:00 train from Brighton or the 9:27 from London Victoria. Don’t miss the train as it is only an hourly service.

Getting home: Trains leave Wivelsfield for Brighton at 26 minutes past the hour, and for London at 15 and 35 minutes past.


The Last Ride: Sunday 6 September 2015 – September Surprise

8 September 2015

The forecast was fine; the sun was shining; the train ride to the start was simple.  So it was quite a surprise that only five riders assembled at Three Bridges yesterday morning.  Our leaders were Leon and Joyce; the followers were Sikka (Sue), Julian and Roger.  We set off towards Tilgate forest where we paused for a selfie and a look at the mobile phone mast disguised as a tree.

B&H Clarion ride at Tilgate forest.

Then on to the long straight downhill run known as Grouse Road.  At one point we stopped to admire the view and Julian pointed out a large, fine looking house, just visible through the trees, to the north.  No one knew what it was and subsequent research has failed to help.  It looks as if it’s on a private road called Woodlands Lane, just south of Colgate village. Any ideas?

At the bottom of Grouse Road we came upon the best view of the ride.  The road swung steeply round a corner and ran across the end of a beautiful stretch of water known as a hammer pond.  These ponds provided the water power for the forges and blast furnaces which made up the iron industry in this part of the Weald until the 18th century.

As we dragged ourselves away from the view we arrived at the “challenging” hill promised in Leon’s write up;  it rose at a gradient of 1 in 8 for a short distance, giving a good excuse to get out of the saddle for a while.

By this time some of us were starting to ask the time honoured question “How far to lunch?” to which Leon provided the only acceptable answer “not far”.  In fact he was right.  A few rather gentler ups and downs brought us into the impeccably manicured village of Warninglid and the welcome sight of the Half Moon Pub.  It was very busy and they were just about to stop taking food orders, but they did take pity on us.  The result was rather a long wait for food, but when it arrived everyone agreed it was worth the wait.

This ride was beautifully planned: quiet winding lanes with sunlight dappling the roadway;  splendid country views  and more downhill riding than up.  And that final cunning trick:  the last five miles or so were almost flat ending at a very reasonably priced café for tea and cake etc. just minutes from the station in Burgess Hill.

Many thanks to Joyce and Leon for planning and leading a delightful Clarion day out.



8 September 2015

Dear All

As so often, Jim to the rescue.  Not only with a ride for 20 September but with another one in October. So now we are looking for –  especially –  an offer for 4 October.

Message from Tessa

I will be exhibiting at the Brighton Art Fair for the first time on the weekend of 25-27th September. I will be showing my range of ceramic wallpieces, with a small selection of vessels.

Also showing at the Art Fair will be my fellow May Festival Open House exhibitors, Sam Lock with paintings, and Christina Fedyk with monoprints.

I am looking forward to introducing my work to a new public at the Art Fair, and to welcoming you to the show.

That’s it from me for the moment.  Over to Roger!


Thanks Ian.  I hope you and Sue are enjoying France.

I’ve no particular news but since I feel the need to put something in this nice space you’ve left for me, here’s a thought.

Why do we shout “Oil!” to warn fellow riders of approaching vehicles?  Isn’t it a bit pretentious, almost a sort of exclusive private language which hardly fits with Clarion’s open and welcoming self image?

Well I did think that for a while, until I realised that there’s a much better explanation.  Just try this experiment:  shout “car!” or “motor vehicle!” as loud as you can.  Now shout “oil” as loud as you can.  You must admit it’s much easier,quicker and more attention grabbing.  Which is not really surprising because it’s very similary to shouting “Oi!” rather than “Erm, excuse me”.

So don’t worry about sounding pretentious, just let rip with a full throated “Oil!”:  it’s by far the best tool for the job.


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

8 September 2015

This is another extract from a local paper quoted in Blatchford’s report of the 1898 Easter Meet in Chester. [And let’s have no “scorching” on Clarion rides!]