via Stoughton and Compton for lunch and Rowlands Castle.
Jim took the 9.30 train alone from Brighton and was joined at Hove by Julian, and they arrived at Warblington Station, far beyond Chichester, at 10.44 to be met by Tracy, John and two Pauls of the Gosport Clarion Club for a joint ride. The weather forecast was overcast with gusts of strong winds, luckily these being behind us almost as far as lunch at the Coach and Horses Inn in Compton.
Warblington proved to be to the north of Hayling Island at the south-eastern edge of Havant. We soon got onto the Emsworth Common Road through Southleigh Forest and gently uphill with the wind helping speed us on. Then Paul’s narrow rear wheel got a puncture which involved dismounting the wheel, removing the smooth tyre and replacing the inner tube which was pumped up to 120 lbs/sq inch pressure.
Paul and Paul at the pit stop
Off we went again still gently uphill and once through Aldsworth, having taken a photo of the ruins of Racton Tower, a haunted folly, on the hillcrest to our left, we passed Lordington House and into Stoughton village, crossed here by the Monarch’s Way, and the location of St Mary’s Saxon-style church dating from 1050.
This was followed by a lovely ride through the young trees of Wildhams Woods to East Marden, where we stopped to see the unusual thatched well just south of the church.
At East Marden: L-R Paul, John, Tracy, Jim, Julian
Wildlife viewed near here included a buzzard just above our heads on the edge of a wood and out in an open field a stag with a group of does. A little earlier Julian had seen a merlin fly across the road ahead, having just heard it calling.
But by now thoughts of lunch were beginning to surface and so we made a rapid descent into Compton Village. The pints of beer were a welcome reward and the home-made fish pies and avocado-topped meat pies were excellent.
Reluctantly we got onto our saddles again going briefly north on the B2146 before turning onto the long and narrow road down to Idsworth. Here four of us dismounted and walked on a grassy path in a field to the isolated St Hubert’s small 1053 church updated in Norman style with preserved 14th C wall paintings.
Only a mile or so on, passing under the railway line for the third time, we stopped at the Tea on the Green restaurant, where John departed. Five of us had various very sweet goodies (including rocky road delight) accompanied by tall glasses of very hot chocolate. By now as we left it was 3.30 pm and we switched on our white head and red tail lights, while it even hinted at rain. Although we passed Nightingale Bottom none were to be heard! The downhill Woodberry Lane was pleasant and we rejoined Emsworth Common Road to go on through Havant housing estates arriving at Warblington Station (no warbling heard) at 4 pm where the Gosportians bade us goodbye. Julian was grateful to them for waiting without complaint for his slower uphill ascents and putting right his locked gear chain near the end. Then Jim and Julian at the sunset had to wait 35 minutes frustratingly watching fast trains speed by without stopping.
Many thanks for Jim for reaching out to our Clarion neighbours and for constructing this series of splendid sections along lovely valleys and over undulations with many turns linked together to create the circular ride.