Furnace Green – Tilgate Forest – Pease Pottage –
Slaugham – Staplefield – Goddards Green
This is a ride made up of bits of two previous rides: Three Bridges to Balcombe (Sep 2016) and Haywards Heath Circular (Feb 2018) with only a couple of unresearched miles in the middle.
We start out along Haslett Avenue, where we once again pass the plaque explaining its name. Dame Caroline Haslett (1895-1957) was an electrical engineer, and the first secretary of the Women’s Engineering Society; she saw electricity as heralding an age “when women are liberated from soul-destroying drudgery”. Her father Robert Haslett was a railway signal fitter and activist for the co-operative movement. I don’t know which one the plaque commemorates, but its location – adjacent to the grid feeder station for the entire London-Brighton line – would be fitting for either, or both.
After passing through part of Tilgate Forest, we reach Pease Pottage and then take Grouse Road, bypassing St Leonard’s Forest, which featured in the 2016 ride. This is partly because the lunch venue for the last three rides in this area, the Dragon at Colgate, has become rather too posh for my liking, and so the route needs to be adjusted to enable us to reach a much nicer pub, the Jolly Tanners at Staplefield, where we should arrive at about 1pm after passing through Slaugham.
After lunch we will strike out into unknown territory for those two miles, and then reach the route of the Haywards Heath ride at the end of Broxmead Lane. This takes us to Goddard’s Green where the Sportsman pub is a possible tea stop; then to World’s End, known to the railway community as Wivelsfield.
Apologies to faster riders – I had originally conceived this as a “hybrid” ride with a fast loop, but miscalculated – it turned out the loop wasn’t long enough, and I do not have time to extend it. Instead, faster riders can, if they wish, break away at Goddards Green, proceed southwards to Hurstpierpoint and pick up NCN20, which will take them to Brighton, adding another 11 miles to the 20 already covered.
Length: 22 miles.
Duration: about 6 hours including lunch. Sun sets at 16:43, by which time we should be on the train.
Terrain: Good quality cycle path through Tilgate Forest, otherwise tarmacked roads.
Start at: Three Bridges Station (bike rack area) at 10.15.
Getting there: Take the 09:42 Bedford train from Brighton, or any earlier train. If you have forgotten to put your clock back, have a coffee or three in the Passenger Lounge, or in the café at Three Bridges station.
Getting back: Trains to Brighton leave Wivelsfield at 31 and 59 minutes past the hour.
Remember: this is a linear ride!