The Next Ride

21 April 2016

Sunday 1 May 2016: A Coastal Ride to Seaford. c 25 miles

Meet at Palace Pier at 10 am. The route will take us via Rottingdean, Saltdean, Telscombe, Peacehaven and Newhaven to Seaford.   There are some hills and a lot of flat bits including the Undercliff.

Several possibilities for lunch including the Cinque Ports pub

We can return from Seaford by train. There are trains at 27 and 57 minutes past the hour


The Last Ride. David ’s Report

21 April 2016

Three Bridges to Ashurst Forest – Saturday 16 April 2016

Jim was alone when he boarded the train at Brighton Station, fearing that there might be no takers for this Saturday ride in light rain, which was arranged to meet up with some of the London Clarion section at the Three Crowns pub at Ashurst Wood on their ride to Eastbourne. When he arrived at Three Bridges, Jim was met by Chris and David who had come by car, and Sikka, Tessa and Sue who had come from Hove and had taken an earlier train.

We immediately set off for Worth Way, which is sign-posted NCN21, soon passing St. Nicholas’ Church in Worth, the 4th oldest church in the country with its chancel arch and apse having been dated to between AD950 and 1050. As we had previously visited the church during an earlier ride in October last year, we continued over the M23 and followed Worth Way with David promising that the rain would stop by 11am. Soon after passing the disused Rowfant Station and Crawley Down Pond, we stopped to admire the architecture of the Jacobean house of Gullege, the home of the Alfrey family from 1361 to about 1662.

Gullege in 2016

Gullege. There was some debate about whether it was still occupied, or had deteriorated. Photos of Gullege taken in 2011 are available on Flickr, for comparison – Jim.

The imposing large chimneys were built as monuments to the prosperity of Elizabethan and Jacobean agriculture and the wealth created by the iron industry. There is evidence of human activity in the Gullege area dating from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

East Grinstead

East Grinstead – one of the oldest high streets in the country?

Pressing on we navigated the Saturday morning traffic and shoppers in East Grinstead and the High Street, over-shooting the roundabout just after Sackville College, before doubling back along the Forest Way and then turning east towards the A22 and our lunch rendezvous at the Three Crowns. Looking back we could see Weir Wood Reservoir, formed by damming the valley of the River Medway, which is said to provide a daily average of 14,000 cubic metres of drinking water to the town of Crawley and other parts of Mid-Sussex.  A sewage works is located just north of the dam and a water treatment works at the eastern end of the reservoir, and discussion wandered on to the use of recycled water. It was suggested that whilst treated wastewater should be suitable for sustainable landscaping irrigation, some commercial and industrial needs, its use as drinking water should be considered with caution because of the secondary chemicals and heavy metals which would not be removed by the treatment processes. It was noted, however, that recycling is widely used in some countries such as Singapore, which suffer extreme water stress.

We were welcomed by a friendly publican and his team at the Three Crowns, and served with good food ranging from local lamb shank, fish pie, vegetarian lasagne, wraps and soup, washed down with Young’s and Ringwood beer and soft drinks. Ian also joined us here for lunch, having come by car, before our friends from London Clarion, Alex and Alan arrived for an energy break before the long ride to Eastbourne.

Group photo after lunch

L-R David, Chris, Alex, Alan, Jim, Ian, Sikka, Sue, Tessa. Photo courtesy of a long-suffering barmaid not used to cat herding.

Jim drew our attention to a plaque proclaiming that “an inn called the Three Crowns has been present on this site since before 1725, with early inn signs often reflecting loyalty to the Crown, and the Three Crowns is so named to celebrate James VI of Scotland’s succession to the throne of England on 24 March 1603. King James was now the first king of what he liked to call Great Britain, forever joining the ‘Three Crowns’ of England, Scotland and Wales”. Other references state that James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a great-great-grandson of Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland, which uniquely positioned him to accede to all three crowns after his mother was compelled to abdicate in his favour. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue, and reigned all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known as the Jacobean era. Perhaps Ian can guide us on this anomaly and then we can suggest the plaque is edited.

Three Crowns plaque

After lunch we planned to cycle back the way we came along Worth Way, but initially made a small diversion to look at the ruin of Brambletye House that provides much mystery and romance within its Jacobean architecture of three ancient, stone towers, but few hard facts.

Brambletye House

At the top of the central tower is carved the date 1631, and the initials CHM and a weathered coat of arms above the door suggest the abode of Henry Compton and his second wife, Mary Browne. They came into ownership of the older double-moated manor at Brambletye by way of Richard and Edward Sackville, brothers of Henry’s first wife, Cecily Sackville, after his widowed mother married the 2nd Earl of Dorset, creator of Sackville College. The old manor at Brambletye is detailed in the Doomsday Book and handed down through the families of Montague, Aldham and Saintclare to Richard Lewkenor, local MP and County Sheriff, but fell into disrepair by the time of Henry and Mary’s marriage in 1620, and so Henry built a new house very close by, which rose up above the manor from an impressive vaulted basement. The moat of the old manor still survives, which we could investigate on a subsequent ride to this area.

Our thanks to Jim for another interesting and educational day out.


Ian adds: David has too much faith in my historical knowledge. But I won’t hide behind the usual historian’s excuse – “It’s not my period.”    When I learnt that we were going to a pub with that name  I assumed that the 3 crowns were England, Scotland and Ireland.  I don’t think Wales comes into it.  Very unfair etc and it was a very long time ago but I think the medieval monarchs – mostly called Edward – who built all those impressive castles in Wales to intimidate the poor locals just incorporated that country into the kingdom of England – which in those pre-national days was the sort of thing your kings and emperors went in for.  They would, I think, have been astonished and outraged by the suggestion that their new “subjects” should have been consulted.

Scotland of course remained a separate kingdom, though ruled from James I (and VI) onwards by the same blokes (apart from the interregnum) until the UK was created in 1707 – which,incidentally makes our state just a few decades older than the USA. Something many people don’t realise. James I a century earlier had been keen to promote the idea of Great Britain (which is simply a translation from the French Grande Bretagne– grande to distinguish it from (little) Bretagne, or as we say, Brittany.) But it sounds quite impressive, though it was slow to catch on until the Act of Union.

A second Act of Union – in, if I remember rightly (it really isn’t my period!) – 1800 added the Kingdom of Ireland and the UK remained The United Kingdom of Great Britain ( i e geographically England, Wales and Scotland) and Ireland” until Irish independence in the 20th century reduced it to “and Northern Ireland..”   It seems inevitable that if enough people vote to leave the EU in June that will be soon followed by a second referendum in what was often called North Britain in the 18th century – never really caught on permanently – followed by Scottish independence and the end of the UK. Which would be very sad, I think.

Well, you did ask, David!


21 April 2016

                                                              21 April  2016                                                             

Dear All       

Leon’s illness

I’ve received the following update from Leon which is typical of him in being so positive. I did check with him about including it in this newsletter. We all   hope that the treatment works as completely and as soon as possible.

Hello Ian this is my situation so far.

I have had a month of tests and have been told I have a malignant cancer in my throat and lymph glands. It is aggressive and will be treated as a priority with radio therapy starting on Monday 18-April and being five days each week for six weeks. Also I will have Chemotherapy one day each week for same period. It’s been recommend that I stay active and walk/cycle as much as possible but they say that as the treatment progresses I will become less energetic. Things will never return to the state I enjoyed previously.

Boots   Leon

Future Rides

As noted last time Jim’s ride planning meeting was very successful and has – so far – produced all the rides listed below. But we are still short of a ride for 15 May.  The next dates free after that are the two June ones.  One tip I picked up from Alex (of London Clarion) on Saturday is that he finds using Google Street view useful in planning rides.  It can sometimes save the need for a recon.

I’ve also heard from Dave Churchill who writes:

I have finally finished my 4 days training, including a compulsory CTC Group Leaders Certificate, as a South Downs National park Cycling Ambassador. In this role I will be leading /assisting with rides in the Adur Valley and surrounding area and in conjunction with M’s Cycles of Shoreham.

These rides are primarily easy rides aimed at either getting people that might be new to cycling to venture into the SDNP or have been absent from cycling for some time or lacking confidence to gain skills and experience. These rides will obviously make use of many aspects of the SDNP and will be on quiet roads and bridleways and cycle routes such as the Downs Link. They will be especially suited to families and young children as well as those wanting to venture off road on easy terrain and consequently easy paced.The aim is also that riders do not have to have mountain or trail bikes but road bikes with non slick tyres will be suitable.

There will be specific rides such as rides to Chanctonbury Ring that might be more suitable for specific riders or bikes but these rides will be described fully so that people can decide whether they want to go on them. Rides for specific ages or abilities can be catered for. A recent ride was to the site of the old RAF station at Truleigh Hill where an ex RAF Officer gave an interesting talk on its function and layout both during WW 2 and the Cold War.A cross section of ages was represented on the ride from teens to seventies as well as a cross section of bikes including a road bike accompanied by its rider in full lycra!

The surfaces ridden on ranged from local Shoreham roads to the minor road to Truleigh Hill and then on the South Downs Way.

The rides will take place every month and short ones are planned for the evenings where demand exists. A special point to note is that the rides will usually have one of the shop mechanics on the ride, a very useful thing in the event of incidents!

The rides will be publicised on the SDNP web site as well as M’s Cycles web site. For the moment have a look at  if you are interested

Autumn Meet

Jim writes:

The Clarion Autumn Meet is a weekend of cycling, based in Coalport on the river Severn in Shropshire. It sounds like the sort of thing those of us who are not into competitive or overly-energetic cycling might like: lots of rides for all ages and abilities (see the report “ A View From Jenny’s Chariot” in the recent “Boots and Spurs”). The 2016 Autumn Meet will take place on the weekend 14-16 October. Accommodation will be at the Coalport Youth Hostel:

I am planning to go, but it would be nice to know that there were others from Brighton going too. Please email me if you are interested.

To book a place, all you need to do is book your accommodation. But remember that youth hostels book up pretty early nowadays, so I’d advise you to get it booked soon. For those who don’t like sleeping in dormitories, there are 2 and 4 person private rooms that can be booked.

Tessa’s Open House during the Festival

Here is the flyer.   On the basis of past visits I can say it’s well worth dropping in.

Eflyer 2016


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

21 April 2016

From “Answers to Correspondents in “Cycling Notes” in The Clarion 1 August 1896


The Next Ride: Saturday April 16th

7 April 2016

Three Bridges to Ashurst Wood (and beyond?)

Crawley Down – East Grinstead – Ashurst Wood – Forest Row

This will be a partial re-run of an earlier (2011) ride along the Worth Way and the Forest Way, the occasion today being the London Clarion section’s ride from London to Eastbourne. We will have lunch with them at the Three Crowns at Ashurst Wood at 1pm.

Most of us will probably want to turn back after lunch, making a total round trip of about 24 miles, though I am sure our London colleagues will be happy for any more adventurous souls in our contingent to go a little further along the Forest Way with them, towards Eridge.

Whatever we decide, collectively or individually, we’ll see some interesting old buildings on the way: first Gullege, according to Pevsner “a beautiful Jacobean house … (The) front is stone-faced, smooth, with three equal gables and mullioned windows. The other sides show their timber-framing. Good chimneystacks, one of star-shape. the others square, set diagonally”; then the 400-year-old Sackville College in East Grinstead; and finally Brambletye House, “the impressive ruin of the house which Sir Henry Compton built in 1631.  Still entirely Elizabeto-Jacobean in style … The symmetrical front of the house is still easily recognised with its central porch, canted bays l. and r. and towers at the angles.  These are of four storeys, and one has still got its ogee cap.”

We will also get a glimpse of Weir Wood Reservoir – the other end from the bit we visited last October.

Last time we did this ride we went all the way to Eridge, and most of us got the train back from there. Unfortunately the trains from Eridge to Uckfield and London are not running today; the Spa Valley steam railway from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells (providing a route back to Brighton via Hastings) is running, but may not be an option because they are running a special “Day Out with Thomas” service which may be heavily booked. So if you do go all the way to Eridge, bear in mind that you’ll have to cycle all the way back again (total mileage around 44) unless anyone wants to try and make it to Frant or Wadhurst stations on the London-Hastings line, or indeed, continue to Polegate along NCN21 (total mileage about 47; and note that it does get hilly after you leave the Forest Way). For anyone who wants to do less than 24 miles, you can shave off the last 7 by getting the train from East Grinstead via East Croydon on the way back.


Start at Three Bridges Station at 10:15 am (assemble by the cycle racks)
Suggested trains: 9:35 from Brighton; 9:12 from London Bridge.
Duration: about 6 hours including lunch.
Length: about 24 miles if turning round at Forest Row; longer if not (see above).
Undulations: Old railway lines like the Worth Way and Forest Way tend to be nice and flat. Unfortunately the pub is 70 metres above the Forest Way. But there is a pleasant route to it which will minimise the agony, and can be walked.
Return trains: There are 4 trains an hour from Three Bridges to Brighton, and plenty to London.



The Last Ride. Kate’s Report

7 April 2016

Haywards Heath circular – 3 April 2016


At Haywards Heath. L-R (approximately): Richard, Kate,
Roger, Jeanne, Julian, Sikka, Corinne, David, Angela, Julia

Eleven people set off from Haywards Heath, all of us knowing we would lose our leader, Jim, after a mile. He directed us to the path to Cuckfield then departed for an even greater act of generosity. Thanks, Jim. What a route!

At this point the theme also changed from an easy undulating circular to a mystery tour where we had to stop frequently to find the next clue. Julian stepped into the breech with aplomb so that never once did we need to retrace our path.

Angela, Corinne, David, Jean, Julia, Julian, Kate, Richard, Roger, and Sikka followed the leader through the woods and into Cuckfield where we picked up three more cyclists: Joan, TJ and four year old Nye (who had the blissful choice of either peddling behind his mother or relaxing/sleeping in a high-backed seat as his mother peddled up the undulations too tough for some of us with no passenger).

How many of us managed to note the views of Balcombe Viaduct or were we too keen to keep moving?

The Sportsman Pub expected us and could cater for many more, obviously a popular Sunday destination.  The weather suggested that winter had gone and a visit there in another month or two might mean eating in the garden.

‘Huge portions’ seemed to be the common topic of conversation, along with ‘great vegetables’, intertwined with chatter about Brexit, Trump, desalination, Obama’s legacy, the new café in Lansing and no doubt other topics on which we all (almost all) had strong opinions. Yet no one asked us the lead the country.

Daffodils and celandine flourished; dandelions reminded us that their long season had begun. It will all get better soon with glimpses of wood anemone, bluebells, red campion, blackthorn, cherry blossom and forsythia.

TJ, Joan and Nye left us just as were arriving at HH. The end came fast, with no obvious place for all of us to take tea before we had reached the station. Realisation that there was a train to Brighton in 3 minutes sorted the eager from the relaxed.

Quickly the group dissolved but for a few who got a train direct to Brighton ten minutes later.

It was a good ride. Thanks to all. Each time, at the end, there’s always a wish to be home ASAP.


[Has anyone got any more photos of this ride? – assistant webmaster]


7 April 2016

Dear All       

I know that we were all very sorry to learn of the illnesses of Joyce and of Leon and that we wish them both the speediest of recoveries.

Forgetting to do things? People keep reassuring me that you don’t have to be old (though I think it helps!) to forget   to do things you meant to.  One thing I meant to say in the last newsletter  – but forgot – was on this very subject

At the AGM Julian reported that about a dozen people who had been members in 2015 had not renewed their subscription this year. Now, no doubt some of those were folk who for one reason or another really don’t  want to rejoin – but the list of “non-renewers” that Julian gave us at the AGM included some names that were surprising given that they belonged to people who could reasonably be considered as “regulars” on our rides.  My belief is that in some cases at least the explanation is simply that those concerned forgot  to send in their subs (in spite of my frequent reminders in these newsletters!).   It may even be the  case – it’s happened to me enough times in other contexts – that they may not be sure whether they have renewed or not.

So, what to do?   I’ll repeat Julian’s message from earlier in the year and attach the form.   If you can’t remember whether you did or didn’t I’m sure Julian will be happy to confirm – or otherwise – if you email or phone him.

The subscription is unchanged at £8, all of which will be passed on to the National Clarion Cycling Club as in 2015.

Prompt payment would appreciated.  Membership ceases if payment is not received.

Please complete the form attached with this newsletter and return it to me at the address on the form.

If you prefer to pay by BACS, details of which are shown on the form, please use your surname as reference.

We’ve always scheduled our rides for Sundays and will no doubt continue to do so generally but please note that the next ride is on Saturday 16 April, so that it links up with the ride already planned by the London section (and,incidentally, avoids any problems that might be caused by the Brighton Marathon

Future Rides

Jim’s ride planning meeting seems to have been a great success with a very decent attendance and lots of ideas for possible rides during the next weeks.  That’s terrific and suggests that we ought to have more such meetings in the future

But we don’t want to cut out other people who don’t attend but may well also have rides in mind. As I said in my google-group message, planning meetings are fine as long as they don’t pre-empt other people volunteering when they want to. So I will continue to operate on the ‘first come first served’ basis.  As soon as anyone emails me with a definite offer to lead a ride, it’s theirs – whether they have conferred with other people or not.  It won’t be pre-empted by what’s discussed at any meeting.   So if you want to claim one of the ride dates – whether or not you attended the meeting last evening – please e

Sean and Jim also suggest that some of us might be interested in the following.

Going Backwards on Climate Change cycle ride (Climate Kilometre)

8th May 6:15am @ Preston Park, south end, Brighton – Arrive 11am in Westminster.

Join Climate Kilometre on May 8th and ride to London to take part in the Going Backward on Climate Change March, Whitehall. It”s time to tell David Cameroon and his cabinet- No more UK backtracking on climate! We demand an effective and coherent climate policy now.

The ride is from Brighton to London (60 miles) and involves road, cycle ways and gravel. Some fitness and a reliable road bike are essential.

For more info, contact Steve:

Don’t forget – the next ride is on a Saturday!


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

7 April 2016

A couple of items from ‘Cycle Trifle’ in The Clarion 26 February 1898