Sunday 19 March 2017: Horsham Circular via Shipley
Sedgwick – Copsale – Southwater – Shipley – Christ’s Hospital
We never leave a rider behind: London Clarion C.C. Motto.
Fellowship is Life: our CCC.
Plaque commemorating the 20th century composer John Ireland, who is buried in Shipley churchyard
I thought London Clarion’s new website on 1st day of Spring was appropriate for yesterday’s ride as I was often bringing up the rear, due to coughs and sneezes keeping me off the bike much of this winter and fears that I’d only make it half-way, partly led to us driving to the Horsham station starting point, rather than taking the train.
Once we arrived it seemed that, although the train had too, the Clarion crew were missing! The back entrance – where we had been asked to assemble had no disabled/bike/buggy access so had to ask a guard to help me to go the other way in search of The Clarion, who had been spotted by the guard on platform 2, where there was also a [needed] toilet. Up the stairs, over the bridge, down the stairs to the other exit, where Leon and Joyce were, having taken the lift and been deposited at the wrong exit and unsure both where the others were and how to return to the far exit appointed for assembly. I then went back up the stairs, down to platform 2 in search of Clarionistas and the Ladies. Found the latter but not the former. Returned to the right exit, where Angela and Sikka were attempting the puzzle of how to squeeze themselves through the narrow exit where Mick and my bike awaited. Eventually all 9 of us (Angela D, Anne, Jim, Joyce, Julian, Leon, Mick, Sean B and Sikka) were reunited outside the station & Sean took the group photo.
We were off! Through quiet lanes with intriguing names like “Doomsday Lane” – and “Doomsday Gardens – No Thoroughfare” which we wisely did not enter! – carpeted with banks of woodland anemones, golden primroses, celandines, and later, spotted orchid leaves.
Mick shaking hands with the Southwater Iguanodon. Incredibly, the plaque on the statue fails to inform the reader that it commemorates the finding of an iguanodon skeleton in the nearby quarry in the 1920s.
After going through Sedgwick, Copsale and Southwater (where we stopped briefly to look at the Iguanodon statue in Lintot Square) and then on to Shipley village to look inside the St. Mary the Virgin church, where I bought a card for us all to sign at lunch to celebrate Fred’s birthday. This church is one of the oldest Norman churches in Sussex and dates from the 12th Century, contemporary with Chichester Cathedral, and was built by the Knights Templar on the site of a smaller Saxon church.
In 1906 Hillaire Belloc bought a house nearby together with the iconic King’s Smock Mill, sadly now decaying. To the west is the Knepp Castle estate becoming nationally known due to its rewilding policy. Continuing on for a mile or so, almost to Dragons Green, we stopped for lunch at the George and Dragon Inn. Arriving a bit early for our 2 pm reservation, finally we were all seated and “eated” very well, with, perhaps Angela and Sean’s meals vying for the “most splendid” title. Off again, after having slavered over the pudding menu and decided we didn’t really need banoffie pie or mocha pannacotta or sticky toffee pudding etc, but did fancy catching the 4.33 pm train.
Magnolia Stellata in a garden at Shipley
On the way back Leon and Joyce stopped, while the rest went on, to pick green wild garlic leaves for a later salad due to its medicinal purposes and I grabbed some too, momentarily forgetting that they had electric bikes to catch up and I had legs and lungs that had not been cycling much recently! As they soared past me on the hills I lagged behind so much that our leader, Jim, had to come back and find me and lead me to the waiting group. I had tried to apply Angela and Julian’s tactic of not being left behind by starting off at the front but everyone seemed stronger than me and I did lag and linger on the hills, enjoying the birdsong and the peace, and the trees and flowers. Robins and Great Tits were the most vocal, with occasional accompaniment from Blackbirds and Wrens – and a distant yaffle from a Green Woodpecker. Julian delightedly had a good view of a Treecreeper climbing up a small tree trunk.
The way back was promised to be shorter than the way there and with the wind behind us we made good time (no thanks to me, sadly) and reached Horsham promptly. We followed the signs to the station, but may have missed one and ended up asking passers-by and, in the rush, taking alternative routes. Ours led through a huge and beautiful park, from where we emerged eventually, opposite the station with time to catch the 4.33 – I hope! Mick and I found the route that Leon and Joyce had taken in the beginning to reach the proper, designated start exit, leading, in our case, to the station car park. We had a swift drive home, having tea there at 5.30 pm, both tired but happy.
Thanks Jim for a wonderful day and to the other Clarionistas for their company and patience.
Close-up of Jim’s T-shirt showing the Clarion’s “other” motto