Haywards Heath Circular
It was Sikka, Doris, Sally, Jim and Nick who gathered outside Haywards Heath station for Jim’s Haywards Heath circular ride on a pleasantly mild December morning.
It didn’t take long for the cyclists to swap the suburbs of Haywards Heath for the scenic beauty of Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow Nature Reserve. We followed a surprisingly good cycle path to Cuckfield, where we decided to have a coffee break at the golf club. I was more interested in the Cuckfield Pet & Country Store, situated in front of the golf club, but sadly it was shut. I had already gulped down a cup of coffee on the train from Brighton to Haywards Heath, so opted for a lime and soda while glancing at The Observer’s ‘Scientists fear falling trust in Johnson could harm bid to curb Omicron surge’ headline.
After finishing our coffees and lime & soda, it was a short cycle ride to the lunch stop at the Bolney Stage pub. Our chosen pub stop seemed to have attracted a block booking of posho types, who appeared to have gathered for Sunday lunch. One of the fragments of conversation I overheard was: ‘Of course, we have the Carribean holiday carried over from last year to look forward to.’ Although there was enough space in the pub to avoid the bragging holidaymakers, I decided to sit outside with my festive meal of chips and mulled wine.
The post-lunch route included some very confusing cycling signage, which signaled the road works and ride diversion required to take us back to Haywards Heath. If it hadn’t been for the diversion, we would probably not have seen an impressive triceratops dinosaur sculpture, constructed from old machine components, which was on the other side of the fence next to the bridleway. The sculpture reminded me of the creations Joe Rush and the Mutoid Waste Company have prepared for the Glastonbury Festival over many years.
After leaving the dinosaur sculpture, there was an enjoyable off-road cycle ride through an autumnal landscape. The recent heavy rain had transformed the field near Ansty into a mud bath, which proved particularly difficult to navigate for the two heavier e-bikes belonging to Doris & Sikka. This was the least appealing part of our off-road ride, but it didn’t last very long. The ‘guard dogs’ who greeted us as we left the waterlogged path made a lot of noise for tiny dogs, but didn’t seem particularly threatening.
It was getting dark as we approached Haywards Heath station, after what had been an enjoyable winter solstice ride (despite the mud!). Thanks to Jim for organising.
Ride report by Nick