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 …

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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.


News

4 April 2017

Dear All

Anyone want to take on a ride on 16 April (Easter Sunday)? I shall be in Chester at the Easter Meet but as far as I know there aren’t very many of us going so someone may still come forward with a plan for 16th (or take on Julian’s ‘ready made’ one – see below).  Let me know ASAP. Offers for the two rides in May are also very welcome.

Julian had originally intended for 30th a ride based on Polegate – but the train situation has made that a non-starter. He, like me, will be away at Easter However, he has generously agreed to offer the details he had worked out to anyone who feels like taking on a ‘ready-made’ ride for 16th; click here for ride details. Let me know if you want to take this on and I’ll send it out again together with any necessary changes – including of course the date and  who is leading the ride.

I shall be away from 12 to 25 April in all. So if you decide on a ride for 16th at a late stage after – let’s say – 10th April, please send it to Jim  who will then forward it to everyone on our mailing list as well as putting it in the blog.

This newsletter has grown and grown. All good stuff, but since it’s become so long and  it includes some ‘history’  content from a later period about midway between it and us I’ve decided to leave out my usual Clarion extract from the 1890s this time.  Thanks to all contributors, especially Angela Devas who has offered to organise a Dieppe-based ride. (see below) and Ken Wells (see also below!)

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THE AGM.

You will have received the draft minutes of the AGM. A number of suggestions were raised during the meeting.

Ride Partners (see 7.4 in the minutes)

The question was raised of the possibility of more joint rides with members taking on the planning and leading of rides together. This is an excellent ideas.   So if anyone who would like to lead a ride – but share the responsibility with someone else – will let me know I will either include it in a newsletter or forward it as as separate message.  If you have a particular route in mind it might help to include this – but feel free to leave that open.

Leading a Ride (see 13.2)

Roger’s excellent guide to leading a ride, Leading a Ride – a Rough Guide should help anyone who would like to take on a ride for the first time but feels a bit hesitant about embarking on it. (Far from ‘rough’ in my opinion!)

Mayoral Charities Bike Ride (see 13.1)

Joyce has sent me the following details:

Sunday 23 April from 9.00 to 15.00.

The ride will start at Hove Lawns and cover some 50 miles (but one can do a part of it.) The ride starts at Hove Lawns and covers Lewes – Ditchling – Woods Mill (lunch) Bramber – Shoreham .

£20 registration fee which goes to charity

Leon and Joyce will be doing it – but not all 50 Miles. More information can be had from Suzi or Sarah on 01273 664 936.

Also contact Joyce or Leon for info on their route.

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Dieppe and Avenue Verte (see 12.2)

Angela D has offered to co-ordinate a Clarion ride to Dieppe and the Avenue Verte. The main issue will be booking accommodation in advance.

Some ideas so far circulated in discussion:

  • Initial tentative dates are Tuesday 05 September to Sunday 10 September
  • To do a circular around Dieppe and avoid Paris
  • About 25 kilometres a day – 18 miles or so, the usual Clarion length give or take
  • Possibly staying 2 nights in the same place and doing a circular ride on day 2 without baggage
  • Spending the first night in Dieppe at Egg hotel and doing a walk along the cliff in the evening and having a good dinner
  • Investigating staying in a gite
  • Forward planning for vegetarians as Normandy can be a little tricky

Please email Angela if you are interested and she will set up an email group. She would welcome a companion to do a recce ride.

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Photos (see 4.2)

Uploading photos to Flickr

If you have taken photos during a Clarion ride and wish to share them with your fellows, here’s what to do.

Option 1

1 Join Flickr https://www.flickr.com/. If you already have a Yahoo account you can use that to log on.

2 Join the Clarion group https://www.flickr.com/groups/532678@N24/pool/

3 Click the button top right, that looks like a cloud with an upward arrow, next to the bell. This will take you to https://www.flickr.com/photos/upload/#

4 Here you’ll be prompted to either drag and drop your photos or search them out. Once they are in the browser window, you can Select All and add them to the Clarion Group and any of your own Albums. You can also add titles, captions and tags (to aid searching), either individually or by selecting all. You can change them later if you wish.

5 When you are ready, click the Upload button top right and Bob’s your uncle. We’ll do the rest, selecting a few for the website.

Click ‘New Here?’ (Top right on https://www.flickr.com/photos/upload/# ) for a step-by-step tutorial.

Option 2

If you don’t want to join Flickr, you can use the Clarion account bh.clarion@yahoo.com to log in (email me or Jim for the password). Then follow steps 3-5 above. Please remember to add your name in the caption so we can see who is uploading.

If you have a smart phone, you can upload straight from there. Download the free Flickr app, click the camera icon and follow steps 3-5 above.

If you really can’t do any of this, email your photos to me or Jim and we’ll upload them for you.

Why Flickr?

All the photos are in a place that is searchable. Flickr gives everyone 1 terabyte of memory and pictures are viewable by anyone in the world. Photos posted on Facebook, however, are difficult to locate even a few days after posting, and you have to be a member of Facebook to see them. Images can also be uploaded to WordPress, where our blog is hosted, but they are only accessible by the web team.

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The Old Brighton Clarion

Here are the photos I mentioned last time from Ken Wells, a member of our predecessor. I’ve put Ken’s accompanying words together from several different emails and done a tiny bit of editing – Hope I got it right, Ken!

Ken writes:

Attached picture of a Clarion club run. We even had a club run to Southampton Track when Mike Moreton was riding there.

170404a

Centre in the back row is Brian James who was still competing in time trials in his mid seventies, another former Clarion Member. I think many of us left when the chap sitting on Derek Payne in the foreground became active in the local Labour party and wanted us to deliver political leaflets, He later became Councillor Newman on Brighton Council, and I think later Alderman. I know the Clarion was affiliated to the Labour Party, but we did not join because of that.

I am in that photo, I am immediately behind Newman’s head, Brian James to my left, and on my right, Peter Howarth who was later best man at my wedding.  I can name some of those in the picture, but not all of them. Extreme left is Dave Howson, Colin Moon extreme right, another one who went to the Wheelers

Much has changed since my days in the Clarion. Photography was a fairly expensive hobby pre digital; you had to get them all developed and printed, not just the ones you wanted to keep. On one occasion a group of us rode to Herne Hill for the Good Friday meeting, and I found some were going on a short tour to Kent. Someone had cancelled and there was a spare place in the bookings, and I was asked if I wanted to come. No mobile phones in those days, and no phone at home, so could not tell my parents where I was, but agreed. We spent the first night at Kemsing YHA, I was a YHA member, then  went on to a B & B somewhere on the Kent Coast, I forget where, then to Winchelsea to a B & B. Fortunately had enough money with me. But I was totally out of touch with home, my parents were somewhat worried, and I was told off firmly when I got home.  The marvels of modern communications!  It’s good to see, by the way that Kemsing youth hostel is still going – so many have closed in recent times.

I was away on National Service 1951-53 track seasons, but did managed to ride one meeting when I was on leave. One notable occasion when we had a Dunlop sponsored meeting at Preston Park, with a number of Pros riding, including world Champion Russell Mockridge, I was able to ride that meeting while I was one leave. I was currently serving at Inverness airport, but entered a local grass track meeting near there. The fact that I had ridden in the same event as Mockridge seemed to have convinced the organisers that I was much better than I was, and found myself almost on scratch in the handicaps.

Did not win anything!

One other notable event I remembered, when we had a Dunlop sponsored meeting in 1953 we actually had a bigger gate than B & H Albion, who were in the old 3rd Division, South in those days. You may wonder why Dunlop sponsored a meeting at Preston Park. .In those days, Dunlop made the only UK sourced tubular tyres, there were some continental ones around, but not many UK stockists, and no local ones

There were two good cycle shops in Brighton then, Strudwicks, Oxford Street, who manufactured frames and George Hill in Spring Street, who stocked several leading makes, including Carlton, used by many of us, later swallowed up by Raleigh. Common practice then to order a frame to your specification, road or track. Track we usually specified bottom bracket height, top tube length and frame angles. These two shops supplied most local club cyclists.

Apart from big events, we used to charge for entry to ordinary track meetings, my wife was cashier for a number of years. We employed paid gatekeepers, at the three entrances to the track. I was League treasurer for quite a few years.

The photo below is from a typical Prestonville cub run run turn in 1950s, this was after I left Clarion to join Prestonville It shows our family transport, until I acquired a car. Both children taken on Prestonville Nomads club runs in that.

170404

I am now nearly 86, and no longer own a bike of any sort but I’m a Life Member of BCF and Brighton Mitre.

It’s always good to here something of the history of the previous Brighton Clarion and of cycling in Brighton generally in time gon by. One suggestion at the AGM was that it was time we started putting together our own history – but I think that can wait – at least till the next newsletter!

Ian

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The Last Ride: Sunday 10 July 2016 -Dell Quay

13 July 2016

Sean, Tessa, Corinne

It was beginning to rain when seven of us met up at Chichester Station: Corinne, Jim, Julian, Sean, Sikka and Tessa having travelled by train, Angela by car. Too miserable for a photo, and there was no-one around to take it.

We set off in a south westerly wind and drizzle on the South Coast Cycle Route, aka The Centurion Way. Sikka and Tessa were reminded of the start of their recent Avenue Verte trip which also starts on a disused railway.

Everyone has a slightly different opinion of the weather forecast – some thought rain would stop at 12 and sun would appear, others thought that 12 was when the rain would really start. We all had hopes for a sunny afternoon!

Group with Centurions

We stopped for a group photo at the group of Centurions. Jim pointed out that their mouths and noses were the metal fastenings that gripped and held rails onto the tracks. Their bodies look like unexploded bombs.

We came to the end of the traffic-free path and onto a small but busy road leading to West Stoke. On our right we passed what look like lakes – fields of solar panels, before turning into Lye Lane. Julian told us we had climbed to the highest point of the ride (hardly noticeable!) and ‘it was all downhill from now on’. Was he lying, we wondered?

There was one more undulation to follow, but we forgave him. Small roads with potholes and an off-road track led us to Dell Quay and the Crown and Anchor. No room inside, and blustery outside, we decided to carry on to Chichester Marina for lunch.

The Lock Gates Open

At the Salterns Marina we had a few minutes to wait to before we could cross the lock as three yachts entered it before heading out to Cowes.

Lunch

Seven of us squeezed onto a table for four at the Boathouse Café. There were mixed opinions on the quality of the food but conversation was jolly – Angela told us about her recent tour of the Houses of Parliament which she had found fascinating.

Swans on the road

The sun was out when he headed back to Chichester. Two adults swans and several large cygnets squatted on the edge of the tarmac of the Marina Road, perhaps for its warmth? A busy road, then smaller ones led us through Hunston to join the canal path. On Poyntz Bridge we admired the view of fields and Chichester Cathedral, screwing up our eyes to try and spot the satellite dish on the roof observed by Angela, only it was a joke!

Cathedral View

Sikka noticed a mother and baby Coot on the canal, and some of us were sprayed with water by dogs emerging from a swim.

On arrival at the Canal Tearoom, Sean discovered he had cycled the whole ride sitting on two bananas – better than a gel saddle!

We enjoyed drinks and cake sitting under the trees overlooking the Canal Basin and arrived at the station just as our train was pulling in.

An excellent day out, thank you Julian!

Tessa

More photos on Flickr


News and Dieppe Raid reports

14 July 2015

Dear All

Julian’s report mentions my inauspicious return to coming out on Sunday ride now one of my cataracts is fixed. I only got as far as Preston Park and my transmission just seemed to seize up completely. Could have been worse – might have happened out in the sticks. Turned out to be the bottom bracket.  I’ve been having bottom bracket problems with my bike – now 35 years old – recently,  but it seemed to be fixed OK and I did two 20 mile rides last week which I thought confirmed that.  I believed there might be a slight possibility of the whole thing coming loose – but never the exact opposite which is what seems to have happened.  Always expect the unexpected!

 I will be away for the next newsletter. Roger will be sending it out. So, please send anything you want included to both of us at i.bullock@ntlworld.com and hinton@clara.net.

Good to have four interesting pieces sent to me for this edition – so I’ll just shut up and get out of the way!

Weekend Ride

We did not have our usual weekend ride this year – nobody came forward to organise one.

However, I have had an idea, motivated by my recent experience on the Two Tunnels cycle route near Bath, which I waxed lyrical about on the Google Group.

I’d be prepared to lead a one-day ride involving this route on a normal Clarion Sunday, which would probably mean 23 August or 6 September, as I am on holiday on the 20th Sept and October may be a bit late for it. Participants would have to arrange their own accommodation, and would of course be free to stay in Bath for the whole weekend or longer if they wanted; we could even do an impromptu Saturday ride if there was a demand for it, but the minimum commitment would be the Sunday.

Now, clearly I will need to know that there will be enough “takers” before organising any more (which really will consist of just finishing off the southern end of the ride, the bit I didn’t do last month) – I mean, hanging about at Polegate Station to see if anyone turns up is one thing, but going all the way to Bath and hanging around there is quite another. So please let me know by email to j.r.grozier@btinternet.com if you would like to do this.  Thanks

Jim.

Over the Gotthard Pass

For some months we had been discussing and preparing for another mini cycling tour to Italy from Switzerland. Maps had been pored over, hotel prices and reviews compared. We had even taken Italian lessons. Perfetto! We decided to follow the last 3 stages of the National Route 3, the North South route from Andermatt to Chiasso and then ride a few kms from Chiasso to Como over the border into Italy.

DSC00622

When the day came the only cloud in the sky was the sky which was cloudless with a pitiless sun and hot air pouring up from the south and allowing temperatures well into the mid thirties.

We drove to Brig and abandoned the car in a layby before cycling to the station to take the train to Andermatt. On the platform was another cyclist, Oliver, an academic in molecular biology who was also planning the climb up the Gotthard Pass and he and I agreed to team up. At Andermatt he and I got off while Anne carried on with the panniers to Goschenen and then further to Airolo.

DSC00623

We set off past the huge hotel built by an Egyptian which the locals disapproved of for some reason and soon we were making our way up the 660 metre climb. The gradient was not brutal but steep enough with that strong headwind and we were both happy to cycle at the same pace with stops for drink and breath. There was plenty of Clarionesque conversation and travellers’ tales of hitch-hiking, cycling, Brighton, Wiesbaden, the Swiss, Bauhaus architecture (his grandfather had been a famous architect of that school) etc. It turned out that after 12 years at Berne Uni this was his last day in Switzerland and he was going back to Berlin. Accordingly he had decided to follow in the tracks of Goethe who famously went to the top of the pass, sketched the mountains, looked down on Italy and decided to return to Germany. Most of the ride was up a good main road without too much traffic but the last 3 kms we took the old cobbled road. The cobbles meant that momentum was lost on every turn of the wheel but there was virtually no traffic at all.

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We struggled to the top, enjoyed the view, had our pictures taken and went our separate ways. Teaming up with Oliver had turned what might have been a struggle into pleasure to be fondly remembered. Fellowship truly is life. The views on the way down of the hairpins was impressive but much of my descent was still on cobbles and just as tough as the ascent. It is a wonder I still have any teeth left. I was pleased to meet up again with Anne at Airolo station. It was 2.30 pm and there was still 40 miles to go. The ride was generally downhill but the headwind meant one still had to pedal hard and it was hot, very hot. It was a lovely ride through spectacular scenery and pretty villages, many old wooden chalets and churches. By the time we reached Biasca, Anne had had enough and she took the train and the bags. I arrived at our hotel in Bellinzona opposite the station at 7.15 after much “Dov’e la statione?” We had an early night. The next day we set off to Lugano. We had climbed Monte Ceneri before, it is not much fun. You ride by the side of a busy main road on a marked out area often ignored by the lorries, so we took  2 “Ceneri bici” tickets which gives a special price for cyclists to get from Giubasco to Rivera-Bironico without riding up Monte Ceneri, as recommended by the Veloland website. This stage of the route takes you by the side of the Ticino River through woods largely off road but often right next to a noisy motorway and frequently through industrial areas. By lunchtime we were in Lugano and spent much of the next few hours at the lido for lunch, swimming and reading, and enjoying the magnificent views of Lake Lugano.

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That night the room at the hotel was unbearably hot, neither of us slept. Anne was faint with a touch of sunstroke and the prospect of 36 degree heat in Como for the next 2 days was not what we had envisaged. We decided to cancel and head back to the mountains. We took the train back to Goschenen and from there on to Oberwald to cycle the first stage of National Route 1 – the Rhone route – from the source of the Rhone down to Brig. Anne will continue the story in the next issue.

Mick

Dieppe Raid (1) Joyce and Leon report

The Dieppe Raid June 25-29 is an annual cycling event held since 1972, organised by the Cyclo-Club Dieppois with assistance from the municipality. Following several previous organisers, riders from the UK end are organised by Caroline and Glenn Street.

Our fondness for Dieppe and cycling led us to sign up and take a few days extra to participate with other French and UK cyclists as well as enjoy Dieppe. We arrived Thursday and on Friday rode down the Avenue Verte to St. Vaast-d’Equiqueville – a sweet little village where we had a lovely meal in a splendid cafe opposite the Town Hall. 35 miles easy flat riding on a lovely day (perhaps one for the B&H Clarion one day?).

Joyce at Relais de l'Avenue Verte

Saturday brought the welcoming reception from the Mayor’s office, here we learned that there were 400+ riders, about 200 French and 200 UK of all ages, the oldest 92, the youngest 11. The rides were from 30 – 200 kilometres. We opted for 30 which took us again down the Avenue Verte for a short way in the company of the 92 year old rider and his two daughters. We then diverted on to Martin Eglise (this time a much easier pleasant route than our first try in March which went through the forest … very hilly!).

Joyce at Rue Henri IV Martin Eglise-2

Back to check in and the prizes for the clubs with the most riders, the oldest and youngest riders, and much else. (Didn’t win anything on the tombola though.) We looked out for Bob Harber, but no luck although we did see other Clarion comrades.

Leon at old Station l'Avenue Verte

Then to the dinner at the Windsor Hotel where it was great to find ourselves at the Clarion table and there at last found Bob who – of course – had done the 200 km (a deep bow).

The evening was one of good food, (even if the veggies had to wait till last!), laughs and talk. We  were with our London friends Alan Kiddle, Alex Southern, Mick O’Rouke, Martin Perfect and Charles Jepson (National Clarion 1895), Stuart Walsh (Yorkshire Coast Clarion). It was a great experience – maybe more B&H Clarion members will try next year.

Leaulne river, Martin Eglise-2

The rest of our time we fitted in a trip to Paris, the wonderful swimming pool and (on the hottest day of the year!) attempted to find a route to another old railway cycle route near St. Aubin sur Scie, (also called the “Avenue Verte …”) which we thought might be a possible alternative to the familiar Avenue Verte for Clarion riders?). But the area is not called the “Three Valleys” for nothing and we although we found the route we could not avoid very steep hills to get to that valley and it really was a very hot day!

Yet again, we were once again struck by the contrast between the courtesy of French drivers and the behaviour of so many UK drivers….

Leon & Joyce

 Dieppe Raid (2) Bob’s report

This was my first “Dieppe Raid” this century! Originally planning a tandem trip with my riding partner, Paul, but a family illness made that not possible.

So, solo it was. Riding from home at Upper Beeding to the ferry on Friday morning, I very nearly didn’t even leave these shores, as a lady in a Mini pulled out of a Peacehaven side street and knocked me off. Much cursing, shocked lady, bike inspection, exchange of details and off again. Caught it! France here we come!

On the boat I met up with London Clarion, accompanied by Voldemort (as Charles Jepson was referred to by national Chair Dave Bisset). They were eating and drinking steadily, establishing their pattern for the weekend ahead.

As tourist info mentioned a second ‘Avenue Verte’, after dropping bag at the Windsor, (yes, I was slumming it) I went exploring. The ‘Avenue de Lin’ has replaced the old railway West of Dieppe, running from Petit Appeville to Fontaine-Le-Dun. For the evening I accepted London Clarion’s invite to dinner, although I remained several drinks behind them. Day’s ride: 105km.

London Clarion’s lunch destination on Saturday was to be Le Treport. I met them via a loop which included a road closure due to dodgems at a village fair, the Somme estuary, and eye-watering cobbles in St Valery-sur-Somme. Met the Londons on their extended lunch hour(s). Strong headwind back meant I missed the ‘welcome’ speeches. Day’s ride: 137km.

Sunday was the organised rides, at varying distances. Starting at 6am, I rode the 200km, following the orange route arrows in the company of a gent from the Norwood Paragon. With 3 good food stops, we returned at 4 pm. Prize-giving and speeches followed, with the Windsor Hotel dinner, in the company of Joyce, Leon and the Londons, as the sun set on a long day. Day’s ride: 200km

With the Monday return boat not until early evening, there was ample time for a spin round the 100km route. As all patisseries were open on this weekday, progress was slower than anticipated. Hence almost last on to the boat. Ride home was completely free of errant commuting drivers. Phew! Day’s ride 139km.

A great weekend, with rides, and other interests, for all – not just cyclists. I had forgotten just how refreshing and absorbing this nearest bit of ‘abroad’ can be. At 581 km, it also provided some good prep for the big August randonee, Paris-Brest-Paris.

Bob


News

3 June 2014

Dear All

I began the last newsletter “We’re still open for offers to lead rides from 29 June onwards.  Anyone interested?” Apparently not.  Well, not so far.  At that stage I anticipated that I’d be able to act as back-stop for 29 June.  But I now find  that  I’m going to be in the Netherlands that day; bit far to come back to lead a ride. So I must renew the appeal for volunteers.

I’m aiming to have the next newsletter out – assuming that there is  a “next ride” to advertise – on Wednesday 18 June complete, I hope, with reports from the Kent Weekend.

Message from Caroline – small tandem for sale

I have a Dawes Duet tandem for sale.. It is a 16 inch front and 13 inch rear kiddyback mountain bike so good for child up to about 5ft 3 inches. I am asking £495.00 but open to offers. It is in good condition with rack and skirt guard.

Anyone interested please get in touch with Caroline at  caroline.fife@googlemail.com who will send you a photo and any further details  you might need.

Accommodation in the Dieppe area

I’ve also recently had this message from Anne-Marie Bur. Sounds like it might suit anyone looking for a temporary base in the Normandy countryside.

Over the last few years a number of cyclists have stayed in our house in Offranville, 7km from Dieppe, and have suggested that it might appeal to other cyclists. Offranville is on a spur of the Avenue Verte, which goes all the way to Forges-les-Eaux. You can cycle all the way to the beach at Pourville on cycle paths. Our family has had this house since the seventies – it is not modernised but has all the basic facilities and a great fireplace. We charge just enough to pay the bills – £300 a week any time of year ( we don’t charge more in summer than winter). It’s not a commercial initiative but we do like to have people staying there – no point in having a house that’s not used and we do need to pay the annual costs and repairs so we charge enough to cover those costs.

Anne-Marie

PS We have a very basic website:  http://normandycottagetolet.ht1shop.co.uk/

Finally, some items you may have missed from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips” including one of local interest.

How do you combine the Great British Bake Off with cycling? In preparation for this year’s  Brighton Breezy Randonée on 7 September, Brighton and Hove CTC are holding a cake-making social event after their ride on Sunday 16 June. Riders have a chance to sample all the entries, decide the bake-off winner and choose the star cake for the ride’s refreshment stop. Mary Berry need not worry.

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Showing why  Space for Cycling is so important are York rider CarefulCyclist and his YouTube videos. The first showed errant cyclists, the second discourteous drivers. Now, he has captured pedestrians stepping off pavements without looking and walking down cycle lanes in a third heart-stopping filmTraffic Droid goes one step further by castigating bad road users on the streets of London. [He was also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary The Complainers.]

 

*     *    *

It will be eight years before safer lorries will be seen on the roads, despite support from several countries, including the UK and Germany. Sadly, France and Sweden called for the delay to protect lorry manufacturers Renault and Volvo. Although his support was ultimately unsuccessful, we would like to thank the 700 CTC members who wrote to the Transport Secretary urging him to oppose the measure.

Ian


The Last Ride: 1 July: East Croydon to Greenwich

7 July 2012

Just before leaving for the station I saw a Facebook message from a friend doing the Capital to Coast 60-mile bike ride to and from Hove, saying they had already had hail, rain and strong winds so we packed or wore all the bad-weather gear & raced up, down and up Brighton’s hills to catch the 10.10 fast train to East Croydon. Met ride leader Jim and early arrivals Sue and Rob at the appointed tram stop. Messages to Tessa and Angelica confirmed they were on their way but would be 10 minutes late. Phone call to our son Leon revealed he’d be 20 minutes late, so we agreed that the first six would set out and Mick would wait for Leon and catch us all up at the first park.

Jim led us six carefully over the tramlines and across the traffic, beneath the skyscrapers of East Croydon to the quiet suburban roads that were marked as bike-tracks. It was a fairly complicated route and Mick and Leon went awry as were given more direct (busier roads) directions but, after a couple of phone-calls, we were reunited. Nobody around in the park to take photos of the start of the ride so we saved that for later and continued semi-circumnavigating the deserted park, up a little hill, across some more tramlines, then a major road with pelican crossing. Here we were delighted to see a fast procession of thirty or so ponies and traps & horses and carriages, trotting and cantering down the hill, some waving and some weaving among the sparse traffic.

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Having read in the previous night’s Argus that the Avenue Verte was now complete from London to Paris, I was looking forward to rejoining it (i.e., NCN21) in the wood in Spring Park, although I had missed some of Jim’s previous rides. At the blue NCN sign we bumped into a woman cyclist and her dog – she kindly took the group photo and posed for the camera as mascot.

1. In The Wood

Having gone east from Croydon we now headed north to Greenwich. Emerging from another park we were all feeling peckish, and Leon shared his home-made flapjacks to tide us over till we reached the Viceroy Indian Restaurant with its promised buffet lunch. Restaurant looked deserted but food soon arrived and was agreed to be good by all. I was glad to see a couple more customers arrive as we left.

Now the route went through a number of different styles of parks and we could enjoy the green peace and see a few other cyclists and a very few children enjoying the playgrounds. Where was everybody? Had they all gone to Hove for the 60-miler? Several picturesque spots merited photo-stops:

Views from the bridge of the two clear, shallow rivers (Pool & Ravensbourne) converging.

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View ffrom the Bridge,over the confluence of the Pool & Ravensbourne Rivers.

An amazing, huge, deserted, wooden climbing frame in a wild park.

Amazing wooden climbing frame;abandoned. wish I could read the sign.

And then a helter-skelter of a bike and walkers’ bridge, which provided shelter when the rains came.

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Up till then Sue and I had juggled our fleeces and cheap Lidl rain jackets as we sweated or shivered in succession. Rain didn’t last long, only until we were all geared up and then had to remove it all again as few feeble rays of sun appeared. As befits a Waterlink Way beside shallow, clear water, beneath willows and superb beech and plane trees, there were no hills to heat or hinder us, and we arrived at the Thames at Greenwich having enjoyed traffic-free trails the whole of the afternoon.

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It was our 45th wedding anniversary so I’d hoped to meet daughter and grandchildren at Greenwich Park, but they were stuck at Westfield shopping for kids’ shoes, so we Barry three left the Clarion group to race out via Greenwich Tunnel and Isle of Dogs, to try to cycle to the Olympic Park and its nearby shopping centre, the largest in Europe. We were beneath the newly opened gondola to ExCel and cycled the blue, so-called cycle superhighway. I was disgusted that the DLR refuses to take bikes, but eventually we reached Westfield and found out where all the Londoners go on Sunday: shopping! The nearby new green “park” is closed off and will cost £10 to enter during the Olympics, but we had a view of the Anish Kapoor sculpture and the Olympic site from the concrete jungle of Westfield. Took a train from there to Liverpool Street and cycled to London Bridge station, having photo taken on the bridge with newly installed Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge in background, and newly completed Shard to the side. Arrived home 9.30 pm for last minutes of the Euro football final, twelve hours after our start. From web reading of CTC accounts of cycling that ride I see that Jim did a fine job of navigating, and thank him heartily for a memorably Super Sunday.

Anne

Jim adds:

16. Old Royal Naval College

After the departure of the Barrys for a family reunion in deepest Stratford, Angelika led the remaining four of us across the wonderful Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and into the equally wonderful Island Gardens Café for a much-needed tea and cake stop on this very scenic north bank of the Thames, with its view across the water of the old Royal Naval College and the Observatory.

13. Greenwich Foot Tunnel

15. Island Gardens Cafe

We were now on the Isle of Dogs, and were given a comprehensive tour, initially east and northwards along the river bank, catching sight of the Millennium Dome (O2), the new Thames Cable Car and, in the distance, the Olympic stadium. Then inland alongside the West India Dock (which effectively cuts the island off from the mainland), towards the scene of much recent criminality, the Docklands banking district. (Oddly enough, though, I saw no police “scene of crime” tape.)

We chatted briefly to the crew of a Polish sailing ship (Zawisza Czarny) and then it was off again across the island.

20. Zawisza Czarny

There had been very little evidence of old buildings remaining from the time when the docks were in use, and very little photographic evidence either; but now we did encounter some cobbled streets, and saw a few old buildings that had been modernised and a few that hadn’t; and we found a few historical noticeboards, though there could have been more.

21. Old and New

Emerging back onto the Thames but now on the west side of the island, we worked our way westwards and crossed Tower Bridge, joining a much more crowded path on the southern side for the final leg of the ride, to London Bridge station – dominated by the now-complete Shard – and the Brighton train.

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Thanks to Angelika for a wonderful tour absolutely packed with interest. And a good day to see it all – we all knew that, 24 hours later, these streets would be sullied by hordes of braying bankers swilling champagne bought with our money.

Jim

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The Last Ride: Sunday 4 December – Short and Sweet but with lots of “nots”; Hassocks to Wineham

8 December 2011

[ More photos on Flickr]

The happy band at Brighton station (Corinne, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne) learned that the 10.44 would not be stopping at Hassocks and that they would have to get the 11am train. Happily, the rest of the band (Angela, Ian, Jim, Leon and Rob) had not pedalled off without them, having been forewarned by Joyce and her trusty mobile phone. For once, no hapless passer-by was stopped to take a photo, so the group mug shot was duly taken by Leon who had not forgotten to bring his camera. And then it was off through Hurstpierpoint where not one single puncture was experienced (not like Hurspierpoint 9 January 2011 – what a joy it is to read those old ride reports on the website – thanks Fred).

Group photo. Hassocks Station.

A not-at-all-slow sweep down Wickham Hill and College Lane brought us to Hurstpierpoint College where we were not able to watch the lads playing soccer as they had just packed up for the morning and were being whisked away in the parent’s giant 4x4s. Along the meandering lanes until we crossed, from east to west, the roaring A23 (where we definitely did not want to be) and along Bob Lane (not to be confused with Jobs Lane east of that mighty highway). Jim pointed out that, both before and after lunch, the meandering river we crossed was not the West Adur but the cunningly named East Adur.

6. The Eastern Adur at Wineham

Although we were not expected by Mein Host when we arrived at The Royal Oak in Wineham (not Twineham, of course) he was not at all fazed and found a niche for us. There were definitely no “nots” about the lunches – pumpkin soup was supped, platters of ham, beef, salmon and pork pie were eaten clean. At one end of the table, no definite conclusion was reached upon how sea mist differed from land mist, and at the other end, there was no consensus of opinion on the best aspects of the Avenue Verte from Dieppe. We were not the quietest of guests – a crescendo being reached when we could not agree on the pronunciation of … well large chunks of the English language. So with some of us saying “potato” and others insisting on “potaaato”, we called the whole thing off (mainly as by then the landlord wanted not our company but our room for his 1.30 booking for 9 people) and creaked out way back on to our machines. Muscles were not reacting particularly responsively by now: the December temperatures were not as low as usual, but low enough to cause a few twinges here and there, Suzanne, and occasionally Angela, deciding that not cycling up the hills was preferable to cycling up them: Shanks’s pony coming into his own.

Henfield road, Albourne.

It did not rain.

And not forgetting to thank Ian for being our Good Shepherd for the day. Many thanks

Suzanne


The Last Ride: 22 July 2018

25 July 2018

Berwick to Polegate: Levels, Langos and Levitation

Woodland path

Angela and Wendy’s ride attracted 8 riders determined to brave the heat wave: a reunited “Dieppe Four” (Angela D, Ivor, Wendy and I) were joined by Ann, Graham, Mick and Prudence. We quickly left the road and, skirting the southern shore of Arlington Reservoir, joined a lovely wooded byway which eventually led us to a lane. Then the lane forked.

Conferring at the fork

Conferring at the fork

Left or right? There was much consultation, and it was eventually agreed that the right fork was the correct one. However, two of our number, Prudence and Ann, had by this time decided to try the left option, with Mick chasing after them like a sheepdog to return them to the fold. The remaining five of us took the byway through the middle of Abbot’s Wood.

“There are many ways through a wood”. I made that up, but it’s profound and inscrutable enough to have been said by some long-dead Oriental philosopher. The trouble is, those ways don’t necessarily meet up again on the other side, especially if one of them doesn’t actually go through the wood at all. We were not to see the others for many a mile, though we did see lots of other cyclists, some clearly making for France.

According to the Arlington Village website, Abbot’s Wood “was once part of the great Saxon forest of Andredesweald, which stretched across the whole of the south-east of England as far west as Hampshire”; it was overseen by the abbot at Battle Abbey, which gave it its name – although the OS map shows the remains of an abbey much nearer than Battle, just north of Polegate; this abbey was apparently part of the order of Premonstratensians, a word that’s worth remembering as it will probably get you quite a high score in Scrabble.

This lovely track went on for about two miles, but eventually we had to emerge into the housing estates of Hailsham. However a treat awaited us – in the middle of Hailsham, surely one of the most boring places in England, Bebble’s Langos, a Hungarian café serving the traditional deep-fried dough with various fillings – anything from banoffee or rocky road to mushroom, pepper and onion.

Rocky Road Langos (minus a bite or two)

Rocky Road Langos (minus a bite or two)

While enjoying this “second breakfast”, we heard news of our lost comrades, two of whom arrived just as we were finishing.

Cycling could be viewed as an activity to be pursued between meals. And indeed, after a bit of Cuckoo Trail, some quiet lanes and a farm track with lovely views, we reached the lunch stop, the Merrie Harriers at Cowbeech, where Mick had already polished off his roast. One of these lanes was called Grove Hill, and, while that word is banned in Clarion circles, Angela did explain that there might be the odd “levitation”, which she put down to an unfortunate tendency of her map to tilt forward.

There were posters all over Cowbeech imploring us to “Dig for Victory”, but it was not clear what was going to be dug, nor what sort of victory the diggers hoped to achieve. Google can only offer the obvious WW2 reference, a Brighton clothing label, or a North Somerset festival. Is Cowbeech somehow stuck in the 1940s?

After Stunt’s Green, Ginger’s Green and a crossing of the A271, we reached the wonderful Pevensey Levels, and followed a winding lane and a bit more Cuckoo trail all the way to Polegate. A swan and three adolescent cygnets on the adjacent waterway nearly caused a multi-bike pile-up at one point, as this constituted a mandatory photo-stop.

The ride length was reckoned to be about 22 miles. Then the train back to Brighton. The by-now-traditional after-ride swim was forgone due to various personal commitments.

Thanks to Angela and Wendy for a very enjoyable ride through some (to me at least) interesting new territory.

Jim.

Southern's new low-cost carriage

Southern’s new cut-price rolling stock