Sedgwick – Copsale – Southwater – Shipley – Christ’s Hospital
Ever since we last went to Shipley in 2009, I have wanted to go back there, but have been deterred from repeating it by the length of that ride, from Christ’s Hospital to Shoreham (26 miles) and the long and complicated train journey needed to get there. Now re-crafted as a circular, it takes advantage of the fact that, unusually, on this day trains will run direct from Brighton to Horsham. (Never let it be said that we don’t sometimes benefit from engineering works!)
Just south of Horsham, the river Arun is fed by a number of streams, some of which flow through hammer ponds. Despite being the longest river in Sussex (37 miles) it is less well documented than the Adur or Ouse (indeed, if you google the Arun you’re far more likely to be directed to the one in Nepal!), and it is not clear which, if any, of these streams bears the name Arun. Nevertheless, we will pass over at least one of the candidates on this ride.
After half a mile of the Downs Link, which is our only off-road experience today and has a hard surface which is unlikely to get too muddy, we arrive in Southwater. Here there is a statue of an iguanodon, which apparently commemorates the discovery of an iguanodon fossil in the 1920s in what was then the Southwater Brick Company’s quarry. I say “apparently” because incredibly there is no mention of this on the statue’s plaque!
After 2 miles of Cock’s Hill, a very gentle gradient which, luckily for us, is in our favour, we reach Shipley. The windmill here is still an impressive sight, but has sadly been closed to the public since just after our 2009 visit (nothing to do with us – the lease ran out!) It was once owned by Hilaire Belloc, and was used in the TV series Jonathan Creek. In contrast, thankfully, the George and Dragon, where we had lunch in 2009, is still very much alive and kicking, and we will be making a long overdue return visit. Note that lunch is rather late (at 2pm) – this is partly due to the train timetable and partly to the pub’s prior bookings. Have a late breakfast!
The pub has unconventional cycle storage …
We return to Horsham by a different route. There will be plenty of opportunities for tea stops in Horsham town centre.
Length: 18 miles
Terrain: Mainly quiet lanes. Some short climbs early on, but mainly level after that.
Start from: Horsham Station (down side exit) at 11:30.
Getting there: Leave Brighton station at 10:15 (Hove at 10:18).
Getting back: Leave Horsham at 16:33, arriving Brighton at 17:43. (Sunset is at 18:12.)