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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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 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.