Met Sikka, our leader for today, at Brighton Station. Tessa jointly planned the ride with Sikka but unfortunately was unable to join us. No-one else appeared so we boarded the 10am train to Angmering, and were soon joined by Angela D and Prudence at Hove. We compared clothing choices ranging from shorts and sandals to ¾ length trousers and regular jeans, discussing the pros and cons should the weather be warm, windy, chilly or wet. The weather turned out to be all of those things, but fortunately no rain. Mick and Anne were also on the train and there was further discussion about the proposed lunch stop. Sikka called ahead to make a booking at The Harbour Lights at Littlehampton for the 6 of us. Always nice to know lunch is taken care of before striking out.
We set off along quiet roads through Angmering Village, but were soon met with the challenge of crossing the busy A27. Four of us bravely forged through the impatient traffic at the roundabout, but Ann and I cautiously opted for the safety of the footbridge.
The route took us through country lanes, with golden crops ripening either side, then on to a bridleway through Angmering Park Estate with its wonderful tall forests of conifers, including Sycamore and Beech trees (identified by Sikka and Mick). It was a gentle but persistent climb, with a mixture of loose, stony terrain and some firmer surface. We had a brief stop by a log pile where a dog walker kindly snapped a photo of us all. Sikka exhibited excellent leadership skills by offering each of us a perfectly ripe, juicy cherry, and made promises of tarmac ahead.
We joined the Monarchs Way and commenced a gentle downhill ride to a bridleway crossroads behind which is marked the site of the gallows where the last hanging in the area took place.
We continued on through more scenic country lanes, and Anne noticed Arundel Castle through the trees to our right, which proved difficult to photograph due to fewer gaps in the shrubbery.
A nice scenic ride through Arundel, going over the bridge and alongside the river, gave way to a straight but fairly busy stretch of road past Ford Open Prison and on to Littlehampton, crossing the river by the Old Swing/New Retracting bridge.
The Harbour Lights was just beyond the new Youth Hostel, right on the quayside, with views across the harbour and various sailing craft passing close by. Lunchtime conversations covered cladding on high rise buildings, Theresa May’s impact on immigration policy, and a joke from Prudence:
Q “What do you call a person cycling fast around London wearing Lycra”
A “A cyclepath” (pronounced to rhyme with psychopath)
The final stretch back to Angmering Station took us along the riverside to the promenade with clusters of coloured beach huts and views of kite-surfers jumping the waves. There was an unplanned parting of the ways where Anne, Angela and I took a slight detour, but Angela and her trusty map secured us an alternative route back to the station. The gates were down so we watched our intended train leave the station without us, but luckily another one rescued us a few minutes later.
Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for planning this lovely scenic ride, and to Sikka for ably leading us on the day.
Sikka mentioned that this ride is fabulous at Bluebell time.