The Next Ride: Sunday 1 October 2017: The Level to Brighton Pier via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

20 September 2017

Distance: 13 miles  Duration: about 4 hours, including lunch in Rottingdean.
 
We meet at the Italian Cafe on The Level by 10.30 and then ride on the cycle lane along the Lewes Road to the University of Sussex.  We go up the slip road and past the roundabout for a brief stop at the Falmer pond by St. Laurence church. Then onto the cycle path that runs south parallel to the Falmer Road. This path involves an uphill gradient/undulation to the top of the Downs where there are views east towards Lewes and the other way across Brighton to the sea.
 
We turn left into Bexhill Road to go down on the eastern side of Woodingdean through housing estates so as to avoid the main road (i.e. Falmer Road, B2123), until we join it just north of Rottingdean. 
 
Lunch can be taken in Rottingdean at The Coach House on the other side of the A259.

After lunch we cycle westwards along the undercliff path back to the Brighton Pier.
 
Julian

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Clarion on (and off) the Avenue Verte: 31 August to 8 September – Brexit-Breaking Bravado from Brighton to Bray

20 September 2017

On 31st August, Brighton & Hove Clarion returned to Dieppe. Though individual members have cycled from Dieppe more recently in events organised by others, this was the first such visit organised by our section since 23-25 April 2010, when no fewer than 14 members participated in a long weekend ride (for report click here and scroll down). This time, sadly, we could not muster such numbers, possibly because this was a more ambitious ride covering much more ground and hence taking longer – six days, to be precise (nine for Ivor).

Original scan

Angela writes: We set off as four – myself (Angela D), Wendy Scott, Ivor Fried and Jim Grozier. We lost Wendy on the second day and Ivor two days later. Clarion members can be a little careless it seems. The day we arrived we tripped off to the Nordic baths – a 50 metre heated outdoor swimming pool where we splashed around happily until our return to the Egg hotel and dinner at le New Haven (sic).

Jim writes: We made good progress along the route of the old railway line; since our last visit, when the rails still ran alongside the path in some places, most of them have been completely removed, but occasionally one comes across one of the short lengths of track left as museum pieces to record the previous life of the route, along with a few old signals and the many charming little crossing-keepers’ houses, some derelict but some surviving as private houses. Angela assessed each one we came to as a possible future residence for when Brexit takes hold.

A railway relic on the Avenue Verte

As the only member of the 2010 party to be participating this time around, I tried to remember how far we’d got last time, but it all looked very similar, and there were no convenient landmarks after the café at the start, where, as I recalled when reading the 2010 report, Angela C and I had actually sat out most of the previous ride. From that report, it seems the furthest anyone got was somewhere near Freulleville, with a round total (Dieppe-Dieppe) of 31 miles.

Angela: There are some ghostly railway stations en route – such as St Vaast d’Equiqueville – and on our return, I did wonder if our missing companions were to be found in the waiting room, patiently hanging on for their return train to Dieppe. The second night we stayed in a chambre d’hôte near Bures-en-Bray where we were met by a less than enchanted couple who told us dourly we weren’t supposed to arrive until five. So we set off on our travels again to Mesnières-en-Bray where, this being half past three or so, it was impossible to get lunch at the épicerie/restaurant, but we were provided with sandwiches and coffee.

2017-09-01 Avenue Verte train station

Jim: The following day we stopped at the only eatery actually on the route – the old station at Neufchatel, now a lovely crêperie – for lunch. We also admired the old signal levers (or at least, I did). The off-road railway path ends at Forges-les-Eaux, our second overnight stop.

Angela: Forges-les-Eaux was a party town in its youth but now seems a little threadbare and bisected by an unpleasant car-filled high street. The hotel Continental where we stayed heavily promoted a nearby casino where apparently it was impossible to lose any money but there seemed few takers. A couple of doors down we found a nice little restaurant (la Source) with good French food. The two vegetarians were flexible with fish and omelettes.

The next day we left the trusted level going of the avenue verte and three of us set off towards the hills, but in separate directions – Ivor to somewhere he could camp and follow the call of the wild, and myself and Jim to do a circular around Forges-les-Eaux, to try out the more up and down bits and return to our rather anonymous chain hotel in the evening. We missed Ivor, and so did my bicycle as it was not used to having sweet little nothings directed at it, congratulating its sprockets or exclaiming over aluminium tubing, not issues that ever concerned its rider.

So we set off to the outer reaches of the map, IGN carte de randoneé 2110. Unfortunately this particular map caused me great existential anguish because the map area itself is very small and it has large white borders lacking in any information. I berated the map makers tirelessly for their insistence on trying to make a poor cyclist tip over into a white void. Great was my relief the next day when we passed over to IGN 2008 Forêt d’Eawy where the map extended right to the very edge.

On our circular trip we went south via la Ferté St Samson, which had a high defensive mound with a church and then an orientation table – a semi-circular guide, set into stone, of the surrounding countryside. There was also a very old half-timbered house in the village – ‘the house of Henri IV’ – but little else. Norman villages do not have shops or cafés or any provision for eating and drinking. Fortunately we had brought our own – a necessity at all times, we discovered, in Normandy.

Jim: We proceeded northwards on a series of tiny roads which eventually fizzled out into a farm track, before delivering us into a sort of living museum based around a collection of farm buildings constructed in the local style, which features timbered walls in geometrical patterns. This place was confusingly known as Bray (just about everything around there ends in Bray!) To add to the surreal atmosphere there was also a large fishing competition going on, but the cafe was – of course – fermé. We ended the day’s ride with a repetition of the final stretch of Avenue Verte at Serqueux, where the route crosses a still-operational railway line.

The chicken house at Bray

                                  The chicken house at Bray

Angela: This initial ride gave us confidence to continue on the return by a route that ignored the avenue verte and went by little roads. Jim was game for my enterprising use of these little white lanes; even to the point where we ended up in a swamp at St Aubin-le-Cauf – flat to be sure, but with water lapping at our ankles. I directed us onto a very pretty ancient stone bridge, too narrow to wheel the bikes across and with a very full river underneath where even my recklessness was deterred – very fortunately as it was entirely the wrong direction. Jim stoically navigated us out of the watery morass.

Jim: The previous day we had chosen a route which took us to the west of the Avenue, through the Bois de l’Epinay and then a third and final pass through Serqueux, savouring our last chance for a roadside coffee at a very characterful small French bar full of locals drinking goodness knows what. Then more quiet lanes, hedged with the local crop – corn – which looked ripe and tempting, but we refrained, as we were not sure if it was animal feed, or whether our bags might be searched at Dieppe (they weren’t – the whole sea crossing business remains remarkably civilised, with only a passport check, no X-ray machines or body searches). At Neuville-Ferrières we briefly rejoined the Avenue Verte to Neufchatel, only to find that even the wonderful crêperie (“open all year” according to the guide book) was nevertheless closed on Mondays.

Angela: Even here, in a small town of 8,436 people (thanks Wikipedia) there appeared to be only one bar open, with a lugubrious middle-aged male proprietor and an even older and sadder single customer sitting at the bar. Our last night was spent back in le Bas Bray, the same chambre d’hôte as we’d stayed at previously, but with an even less congenial welcome. The owners seemed inclined to view guests as something of a nuisance but unfortunately necessary as income generators to keep up their grand farm.

Our route was north west, traversing the river valleys. Most of the trip went well; no mention of the four letter “h” word even though Jim did enquire rather plaintively, when I suggested a possible route, that the brown lines did look rather close together? I replied that I thought he had his long distance glasses on, not his reading ones. He agreed it all looked rather blurry and kindly refrained from saying anything when a few hours later I caught up with him on the summit, where he was patiently studying the river below and I was heaving and puffing in a manner similar to Hannibal’s elephants crossing the alps, but with considerably less visual appeal.

A typical Normandy landscape

Jim: The pass took us up the west side of the Béthune valley and crossed over into the neighbouring valley. This valley eventually joins the Varenne valley at St Germain d’Étables, where the river broadens into a network of lakes. Finally to St Aubin-le-Cauf and the aforementioned swamp, and back onto the Avenue Verte for the ride back to Dieppe.

Angela: This being about four o’clock, all the restaurants in Dieppe had stopped serving lunch, but we persevered and eventually found somewhere we could collapse into until it was time for the boat to leave at six. On the quayside, fortunately not raining, and contrary to the normal custom, we were left stranded with our bikes, while motorbikes, lorries, motorhomes and cars rumbled past belting out lots of toxic pollution. No matter; we caught the 21.35 that was running late at Newhaven and congratulated ourselves on an excellent trip.

Total mileage for Angela and Jim: 114 in 5 days (Dieppe to Forges and back)

Ivor writes: I initially headed down to Gournay en Bray and then went slightly wrong at St Germer de Fly, where I ended up doing a few kilometres towards Beauvais.  This is the beginning of the alternative Avenue Verte route to Paris, as can be seen in the Sustrans route guide. Having realised my mistake, I navigated to the nearest campsite: Camping Belle Etoile at Le Coudray Saint Gemer (quite a long steep climb).

The next day I navigated to Amécourt, where I rejoined the route but ended up going a few k along it in the wrong direction (!) – After turning around, I retraced my route and headed to Gisors.  I then went about 6k further along the route to reach the campsite at Dangu. The section of the route after Gisors is old railway track.  I continued down this greenway to Bray-et-Lû.  This is the point where the Avenue Verte leaves the greenway, but I stayed on it and headed through Gasny and Giverny ending up in Vernon, where I spent the night.

The next section goes from there to Le Petit Andely and I spent the night a short distance further on at Le Val Saint Martin. The route climbs steeply from there to Le Thuit and then descends to run parallel to the Seine.   I crossed the Seine at the locks at Amfreville and headed to Pont de L’Arche.  Rather than stop there, I headed on to Rouen (the weather forecast for the next day was not good and I wanted to get to Rouen ASAP).  The route runs through suburban streets, some more major roads and forestry roads (no motor vehicles).  The initial forest section is a steep climb!   The route emerges from the last forest section in a suburb of Rouen.  A local advised me not to hang around in the forest area after dark (I got there at around dusk).

The forest route emerges in Rouen directly by a cluster of hotels: Campanile, Ibis and Novotel (a rather more upmarket one).  Anyone doing this route should consider booking one of these in advance.

Ivor’s total mileage: 243 in 9 days (including riding from Brighton to Newhaven and back!)

It would be nice if we could do another Avenue Verte ride some time, possibly varying the format to attract more people. For instance, it would be possible to do a series of one day rides based around Neufchatel, or travel to Serqueux by boat and train, so that the total duration could be flexible, to cater for participants’ prior commitments. As Ivor points out, “Vernon is only a short train ride from Rouen and Dieppe.  The trains carry bikes: very similar set-up to Southern: special section with space for two bikes stacked against each other. Vernon could be a good end point for anyone wanting to shorten the route.” He adds: “If you want to follow the Avenue Verte into Paris, you can take the train from Paris to Vernon and rejoin the route there, or simply take to train back up to Rouen and Dieppe.  There didn’t seem to be any issue with bikes on the Vernon to Rouen / Dieppe stretches, but it’d probably be a good idea to check which services from St. Lazare carry bikes.” Gournay and Gisors also have rail links to Rouen.

Angela trying to work out the difference between Ricarville du Val and Val de Ricarville

French signposts can be a little confusing …


A mini Clarion ride out of the blue: Sunday 10th September 2017

20 September 2017

Red Admiral

Entirely by chance Joyce, Leon, Sikka, Tessa and Marilyn joined in friendship. Unbeknown to each other two groups paths were about to cross. Joyce and Leon planned to have lunch in Bramber at the Bridge Inn, getting a train at Brighton and starting the short journey up the Downslink to Bramber. At the same time Sikka and Tessa had planned to do a recce for a future ride from Hassocks to Shoreham via Henfield and Bramber, meeting Marilyn at the lunch stop.

Now let’s go back to where it all came together. Leon and Joyce unexpectedly met Sikka and Tessa on the concourse of Brighton station; greetings and hurried explanations were voiced and our individual plans were discussed and as Bramber was to be our lunch stop we agreed to meet there to have lunch together. Two odd coincidences now manifested themselves. Leon imagined or dreamed that the Bramber Bridge Inn had reopened after being closed for refurbishment, it is still boarded up. Tessa made a phone call from Hassocks to make a booking, unfortunately she called The Bridge Inn Shoreham who took the booking.

Meanwhile Joyce and Leon were now cycling the Downslink northbound. Sikka and Tessa were cycling through Hurstpierpoint, Albourne and Henfield to join the Downslink southbound, meanwhile Marilyn had cycled from Shoreham to Bramber and was waiting for Sikka and Tessa in the Castle Inn Hotel in Bramber. When Joyce and Leon arrived at the ‘closed’ Bridge Inn, they decided to go back 100m to try the Castle Inn Hotel where we bumped into Marilyn who had been on the phone to Sikka to instruct the location of the lunch venue. About an hour passed before Sikka and Tessa arrived to tell of their adventures en-route. Now there were five Clarion riders all together in one place and enjoying a very nice meal in a rather pleasant location.

After lunch we all set off together for the ride back to Shoreham, but only 500m on the little group split with Sikka, Tessa and Marilyn choosing to cross the very busy A273 while Joyce and Leon preferred the new section of the Downslink that follows the river Adur on the west bank as it goes under the A273, a much safer option. We didn’t see the others again until the Old Toll Bridge but they seemed to want to finish the ride ASAP due to the weather closing in rapidly due to gale force crosswinds from the southwest. It was so nice to meet up unexpectedly and enjoy our day together. Thanks to coincidence/chance without leader or backstop or proper organisation.

Boots Leon.


The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 – CLARION TO CRABTREE; ‘There Will Be Hills!’

20 September 2017

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

Saturday evening we had enormous hailstorms thundering down on our house & turning our garden white, but Sunday dawned calmly, with a hint of sunshine. Once outside & having whizzed downhill on the bike, I realised it was almost winter, instead of mid-Sept. & nearly went back for warmer clothes. I warmed up on the hill to the station & bumped into 3 friends. 2 were Joyce & Leon who were at the ticket machines, but they weren’t coming with us as Leon said the A272 was too busy & they were circling the Cuckoo Trail- Berwick to Polegate. The other was a local Labour friend who was going on a walking trip from Haywards Heath. When we met him again at H.H. Station he took the group photo for us then rejoined his group of around 20 Sunday walkers. Before we boarded the train at Brighton. Angela D. & Prudence arrived & tried to buy their tickets but a long queue had formed as machine had broken down & it looked as if catching the train would be impossible. Mick & I got on as we were meeting Tessa at H.H. since she’d been child-minding in London. It was a new Thameslink open train & possible to walk the whole length, so I went looking for my local Labour Party friend & found Angela & Prudence were on board instead!

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

As there was only 5 of us we made rapid progress out of the town & into the woods & undulating lanes. I remember Bulls Lane, where we saw no bulls, & Picts Lane, where we saw no pigs! [or Picts]. Arrived at The Crabtree around 12.30 & sat in the bar as most tables were booked.

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

Prudence sat in the garden so I joined her for my cauliflower & Parmesan soup. Mick, Angela & Tessa had lamb roast, but he had ordered a child’s portion & ate Angela’s full portion, soon to be remedied by the pub topping up Angela’s to adult size. The food being so good – Michelin starred indeed – that puddings were ordered too – Mick shared his choc tart with passion fruit ice-cream & Tessa had crème brulee rocky road. Then we explored the garden, the views & had fun on the garden swings hanging from a huge ancient tree.

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

Back on the bikes we sailed down Mill Lane which turned into a bumpy bridleway overhung with trees but still with super views & somewhat undulating. Mick had promised us a big hill but we were not there yet. We had to manoeuvre the bikes over 2 locked gates, which was annoying on a bridleway – too high for horses to jump over! When we finally emerged from the woods to a narrow road & a couple of houses, there was a sign warning of shotguns being used on intruders which wasn’t very welcoming & Angela dared to ask a woman in the garden why the gates had been locked, but didn’t wait till “my brother” was summoned to explain! There were so many huge houses with loud aggressive, barking guard dogs & every time we passed them my heart lurched & blood pressure rose. Angela & I took the hills more gently – walking pace-due to our asthma – Angela’s exacerbated by an infection, though she always overtook me on the downhill & tried to teach me the proper way to use bike brakes, not cling on to them like grim death, but to gently squeeze. We heard a woodpecker among the many birds in the woods. We passed a typical Wield Hammer Pond – vestige of the iron industry of the past. We talked to passers-by, walkers, natives, runners & cyclists. We enjoyed the extensive views.

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

Finally we reached the promised hill, walked up it – not Mick of course – & arrived in Warninglid & then Cuckfield. Passing a sign to Borde Hill Gardens, Mick asked us if we’d like to take an extra mile or two to view the estate & maybe take tea & cake in the charming cafe there. Some hadn’t been before & the rest loved it so we agreed & enjoyed. We took tea[s] & teacakes in the pretty garden & again the staff were welcoming & food was excellent & extra teacakes were provided which we all shared.

The Last Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 - CLARION TO CRABTREE; 'There Will Be Hills!'

We had 10 minutes before our trains arrived which was just right & arrived home by 5.30. We’d had a jolly good ride & exercise & plenty of time to chat in glorious surroundings. Although Mick hadn’t had time to re-recce the ride we’d done years ago, we easily sailed around the lanes & up & down the undulations. I scarcely remembered any of it from previous ride & previous recce, but did remember the pub, the views, gourmet grub, glorious woods & ancient trees & ways & my favourite route around Borde Hill. Everyone agreed we’d had a grand day & thanked Mick for leading us there & back again.

Anne


News

20 September 2017

Dear All

I have so much important stuff from other people that I will confine my own contribution this time to inviting offers for 29 October. I’ve put reports from Jim et al on the Avenue Verte and of Leon on a ‘Clarion mini ride’ after the Next Ride details and Anne’s report of Sunday’s ride.’

I’m going to be away for the next newsletter which Roger will be sending out. Please send any reports – especially the 1 October ride report to both of us. Roger is at hinton@clara.net.

Ian

Christmas Lunch – message from Angela. Since there is a menu attached, it will be easier if I forward this separately.

A27 Crossing to Coombes Road

Joyce, our Campaigns Organiser, has registered our objections.

I am objecting on behalf of The Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club for the following reasons:-

1. This application goes against West Sussex’ Walking and Cycling Strategy by reducing the safety and convenience of cyclists.
2. As a group which uses the A27 crossing we do not agree with the suggestion in the Transport Assessment that there is “very low cycling demand”.
3. The proposed replacement for the existing crossing from Old Shoreham Road makes the cyclist’s journey even more hazardous and longer.
4. It is retrograde and contrary to Government advice for a large new development to worsen the cyclist’s experience rather than use the opportunity to improve it (Highways England’s Interim Advice Note 195/16)
5. This proposal should be using the opportunity to prioritise and advance walking and cycling as per Government and West Sussex County Council Transport Policy, rather than as it does at present  encourage car use and discourage cycling and walking.
6. If the existing (already hazardous) crossing is to be removed it should be replaced by a bridge or underpass to give safe direct access from the Old Shoreham Rad to Coombes Road for all non-motorised road users. It should be usable in all weather and appropriately lit.

Meanwhile, Sikka has reported and Joyce confirmed that the website is not easy to use. This is further confirmed by an email received from the Howie Banks, chair of local Cycling UK.

Planning Application: AWDM/0961/17
It is  apparent that the recent website advertised to object to this scheme has been difficult to use via anything other than a PC, therefore many objections are not being heard and time is running out (Last objection September 29th 2017).In its current form this planning application would result in the loss of the crossing over the A27 from the old Shoreham Toll Bridge to Coombes Road which will be removed and the Old Shoreham Road junction will be permanently closed if the New Monks Farm proposals are approved!The proposed alternative crossing for cyclists involves at least a 1km detour with four new sets of traffic lights over a new roundabout and an upgraded A27.Off-road alternatives have not been agreed and might prove non-viable. Meanwhile this major development would go ahead.Recently, there has been a fatality on this stretch of road, walkers, workers and pupils from Lancing College would also have to find an alternative crossing.

If you would like to object to this planning proposal or suggest an alternative such as a bridge or tunnel please use this link kindly provide by Bricycles. https://bricycles.org.uk/2017/09/07/coombes-a27-crossing-at-risk-of-closure/
Or email: planning@adur-orthing.gov.uk quoting AWDM/0961/17 in the subject.


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

20 September 2017

I thought we might have a bit more of Blatchford’s – ‘The Dangers of the Wheel’ from The Clarion 4 July 1896. He’s responding the Swiftsure’s optimistic claims. Winnie is his daughter Winifred.


The Next Ride: Sunday 17 September 2017 – Haywards Heath to Crabtree circular

11 September 2017

About 20 miles

It has to be admitted that this ride has a few “undulations” and a couple of stretches of busy road, but this is more than compensated for by cycling some of the finest sunken lanes in Sussex, more or less traffic-free and some magnificent views.

We leave from Haywards Heath Station (where there is a lift to and from the platform if required). We make our way via Harlands Road and a path through some woods to Cuckfield High Street from there via the A272 to the wonderful Pickwell Lane, from there we go along Broxmead Lane and London Road to Jeremy’s Lane with its vista to the South Downs, then down Colwood Lane and Cross Colwood Lane until we join Spronkett’s Lane, take a left along Bull Lane and carry on along Picts Lane.

All of these lanes with their expressive names are a delight to cycle on. Then we hit the A281 and ride less than a mile to The Crabtree for lunch. After lunch we ride down Mill Lane, after the first half mile this becomes an unpaved private road, not ideal for a road bike with 23mm tyres but a decent surface. From there we go up Longhouse Lane to Warninglid and a straightforward route back to Haywards Heath.

There are frequent trains to Haywards Heath and for the return. We propose to catch the 10.14 which takes just 18 minutes.

Some idea of numbers for lunch would be useful. My mobile is 07803730401.

Mick