Sunday 19 February 2017 Lewes – Newick – Lewes
Crocuses by Leon
John, Jenny and Mick met on The Level to cycle to Lewes where they were joined by Julian, Tessa, Pru, Chris, Sikka, Jim, Joyce and Leon. Joyce was sporting a spanking new racing green electric bike she was finding more suitable on hills, as it has a throttle, and this excited some interest.
The morning was overcast and remained so in spite of a brief glimpse of blue sky as we set out. We avoided going through the centre of Lewes, instead followed the riverbank, passing the Pells Pool where ducks were being fed by a small boy.
For John, leading us all, this ride may well have been an example of ‘herding cats’! Soon after leaving the station Tessa’s pedals refused to turn. Being at the back her calling failed to alert those ahead to her plight! A phone call to Mick called him and John back to the rescue – we waited while repairs were carried out. Fortunately successful! As we joined the A275 at Offham Jim, Joyce and Leon became separated from the rest of us and were thought to have chosen a different route. They turned up at the pub shortly after us and it turned out they were merely a little behind!
View from the A275 at Offham
By the church at Offham, imagine our dismay when we found the lovely quiet lanes to Barcombe full of traffic – diverted from a closed level crossing at Cooksbridge! As we swept down the hill past these cars, Mick fortunately spotted the credit card dropped from Tessa’s bag and went once more to the rescue!
Once past the diversion we enjoyed the delightful quiet of country lanes, admiring the muted soft colours of winter trees and fields. The terrain undulated somewhat, a challenge for a couple of us less fit members, but we all eventually arrived at the pub in time for lunch.
We enjoyed a tasty lunch and Leon wrote some additional lines to add to the poem John had quoted for us and I was asked to include this in the report – see below.
L-R Chris, Julian, Terry (who joined en route), Mick, Jenny,
Jim, Joyce, John, Tessa, Sikka, Pru. Photo by Leon
The near-disasters on this ride – almost losing Tessa at the start, Jim, Leon and Joyce later getting left behind, make a good case for adopting Jim’s ‘foolpoof’ remedy for avoiding these mishaps and ensuring all are accounted for, that is, for each rider to keep the person behind them in sight – or STOP! If everyone does so, when one stops, we all stop, and find out what the holdup is.
Would this be a suitable topic for the AGM? To introduce this as a regular practice? We would, of course, need to be trained into it!
Added as requested, The poem John quoted with Leon’s extra lines in red:
May the road rise up to meet you
…always use a helmet
May the wind be always at your back
…keep ahead of the farty one
May the sun shine
Warm upon your face
…take factor 50 with you
The rain fall soft upon your fields
…but not on your head
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand
…not yet I hope
Terry’s “leftie” bike (notice anything missing?)
After lunch at The Royal Oak in Newick, at about 2.45 pm, Mick went off home at great speed for an appointment at 4 pm. Sikka and Terry departed in the other direction for a rendezvous with a van in Plumpton. So of the 12 at lunch, nine led by John returned south down to the Schoolhouse Farm junction. Here Joyce, Jim and Leon turned left on the same road as we had arrived to Newick, presumably soon passing the gated entrance to Newick Park and then on down through Gipps’s Wood. The remaining six turned briefly right, then left, and having passed over the disused railway continued on a beautiful almost flat minor road until a longish haul up to the junction with the A275 north of Cooksbridge.
The brief sunshine in the afternoon must have convinced the bird community that Spring had arrived, with robins, wrens, Great tits, blackbirds singing strongly at every turn, and a possible Song thrush, a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling and even a fieldfare, presumably on the way back to Scandinavia, while crows and magpies were carrying nesting material.
By now Jenny, Pru and Christopher had steamed on ahead, leaving Tessa and slow-coach Julian to go with John. Then, due to the railway level crossing being closed to road traffic, we took the Hamsey Lane diversion road and soon into The Drove up into Offham. John departed directly home, leaving Tessa and Julian to take the A275 and A2029 into Lewes, crossing over the river footbridge near the Superstore and finally to Lewes Station completing 20 miles. The 4.26 left Lewes on time enabling a change onto the 4.46 Hove train at Brighton Station. Thanks to John for a lovely route, new for most of us.
This was a ride of two Clarions, joined by a common lunch. When Julian and I emerged from the bridge over the railway at the Pells, we noticed that most of the rest had turned sharp left (as if to go back into Lewes) and were heading for Offham Road (the A2029 which carries traffic into Lewes from the north-west). Joyce and Leon had gone straight ahead and were almost out of sight, so I set off after them while Julian raced to join the others.
I caught up with Joyce and Leon at the start of the Landport path, which we thought probably too muddy to risk. So we wended our way through the Landport estate and eventually made it to Offham Road, expecting to see the others a little way ahead. But they were nowhere to be seen. The A2029 joins the A275 on the way to Offham, giving cyclists the choice of taking the road or riding on the poorly-maintained footpath. We opted for the latter, but it was not a pleasant experence – especially as it meant facing oncoming motor traffic, with a very steep drop on the other side.
Once clear of Offham and the diverted traffic (due to a closed level crossing) we began to enjoy the quiet lanes. There were hundreds of snowdrops and even a few crocuses. The road got hillier after Barcombe Cross, and I learned what it is like to try and keep up with two electric bikers! However they were very considerate, and waited for me at the tops of the “undulations”.
A former church at Spithurst, now apparently being used as a music school
We met the others in the pub at Newick, and had an enjoyable lunch (apart from the worrying few seconds when I thought my order for a mushroom dish had been transcribed as “mussels” – but it turned out they were for someone else). The return route was to take a more westerly lane (which according to my OS map goes under the intriguing name of Deadmantree Hill) but still end up on the A275; so once again Joyce, Leon and I peeled off, this time taking the road south-eastwards through Barcombe Mills, past the old station (which appears to be part of someone’s garden now – a possible obstacle to the much-vaunted Lewes-Uckfield railway restoration). More snowdrops, lovely views, quiet lanes and even a bit of sun. Marvellous!
Snowdrops by Jim
The problem with bike rides to the north of Lewes is that it’s difficult to get in or out of town without encountering a major road. In our case we had to cycle along a short (~ ½ mile) section of the A26 before heading off to Ringmer and then taking the new cycle path from there to Lewes. At the station we met Prudence, who had cycled back with the others, but there was no sign of Julian or Tessa. Time for a hot drink and cake at the still-open cafe, then home.