Clarion Ride Report: Chichester Circular 7/8/22

11 August 2022

A cancelled Littlehampton train and a delay due to ‘animals on the track’ between Brighton and Hove meant a very crowded journey to Chichester.

We only all met up disembarking onto the platform.
Jim, our leader, Sally, Sikka, Nick, Marilyn, Doris, Angela and Tessa.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

We headed off on the SCCR through the grounds of Chichester College onto Centurion Way, a delightful tree-lined path in dappled sunlight with glimpses of yellow fields beyond.

Throughout the ride I was struck by the colour contrasts – green trees and a scorched landscape. We stopped at the Centurions to analyse their makeup. Were they metal floats? Bomb casings? Missiles? Jim pointed out bits of railway track that formed their faces. Some ears were missing. Souvenirs?

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

A short stretch of busy road took us to the West Stoke turnoff and shortly to our lunch stop Wellies Tea Rooms. We sat outside on two tables in a converted farmyard framed by an elegant Georgian farmhouse and glass-fronted stables, now housing small businesses.

Delicious food and animated conversation at our table ranging from our least favourite food experiences to what to watch next on Netflix. Nick took close-up photos of the bubbles rising in his lime and soda. I suggested a video. Apparently slow videos have their own Youtube channel?

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Continuing towards West Stoke, we stopped to admire llamas, turned left onto Lye lane, one of the beautiful leafy quiet roads on this ride, then crossed onto Mouthey Lane which was of course photographed and pondered over as to who might have inspired it?

We continued through Fishbourne, over then under the A27 and then onto Apuldram Lane, passing a large field used as an aerodrome during the war to attack the Germans in Northern France.

We turned onto Salterns Way, a small off-road track running alongside golden fields. Crops had been gathered and straw was in bales, or waiting to be baled.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Our tea stop was Chichester Marina where we divided into tea drinkers in the shade of an umbrella and ice cream eaters in the sun.

Nick and Sikka left us to catch an earlier train and the remaining 6 tackled the bumpy first half of the canal footpath where there were several bramble scratches sustained. The footpath became a shared path with an even surface as we neared Chichester.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Another cancelled train meant a long wait at Chichester Station but at least it wasn’t crowded for our return.

This was Julian’s ride from a few years ago, so thank you to him for planning it and to Jim for leading it on this perfect summer’s day.

Tessa

Jim adds:It was good to also see Terry, who was drivng home but met us at Wellies for lunch and intrigued us with tales of his bamboo bike.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Strava link
Flickr link


Clarion ride report Sunday 24th July 2022

28 July 2022

Dave C, Nick, Jim, Sally, Alan-from-London, Angela D
Shoreham toll bridge to Lancing
Written by Angela Devas

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
First rest stop

Unfortunately your writer is still suffering from shock which is why this report has been delayed. What was witnessed on this ride has forced me into the arms of the Moral Rearmament Society, and indeed led me to the shrine of the late Mrs Mary Whitehouse. Gentle readers, please be warned; those of a nervous disposition might wish to stop now.

As I disembarked from the train at Shoreham, other joyful Clarionistas, also on the train but in another compartment, gathered round. One member (unnamed for obvious reasons, and because of a lively fear of libel laws) was adorned in the Clarion tenue but . . .(and here I may have to have a little lie-down)…this was open to the waist. Mercifully we were spared chest hairs and a gold medallion, but even so, you will all agree, that even with the strongest sunglasses, this was not a sight to behold.

Our indefatigable leader Dave C met us at the toll bridge in Shoreham and was soon leading us up a particularly precipitous path, charging ahead (literally – he had the advantage of a powerful electric bicycle) and looking back from time to time at the dismal progress of other Clarionistas. I do not think our leader saw the need for quite so many multiple stopping opportunities en route, where such excuses as butterfly watching, sneezing, catching up on some particularly useful piece of local news, falling off, falling on, steering problems and turning round to admire the view and then falling off again, were liberally proclaimed as valid reasons for a long and welcome pause.

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
The teddy house. Shaun the Sheep doesn’t look very happy!

There were some pleasant downhills; my enjoyment of these was marred by a thoughtless and inaccurate description of me ‘hurtling’; in fact, of course it was a daring and gracious descent at speed.

We all gathered at the first escape opportunity thoughtfully outlined by our leader. I think this was meant to be an example of excellent ride planning, rather than an excuse for an early departure from the tortuous off-road expedition that we had found ourselves on.

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
Speckled Wood butterfly

To recover from all these adversities, we found ourselves in the beautiful Coombes church where even the chattiest Clarionista (some have wrongly accused me of this excess) were silenced by the peace and beauty. We then decamped to St Botolph’s not for a further dose of religious revival but for tea and cake in the graveyard.

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
At Botolphs

We then propelled ourselves in a homeward direction, having been left apparently leaderless by Dave’s unspecified mission in Steyning, our original destination. Alan-from-London continued to look bemused by the curious goings-on of Brighton and Hove Clarion and he was understandably anxious to re-join his London group, rumoured to be meeting in Lancing chapel. However, your writer was unable to make this foray, too exhausted by her earlier shocked discoveries of Clarion depravity.

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
A tribute to anti-apartheid campaigner Trevor Huddleston at the chapel

Many thanks to Dave C for leading this ride and to all the other Clarionistas for being such good company.

July 24, 2022: Shoreham via Lancing to Brighton
The chapel ceiling

Strava link (ride route)
Flickr link (photos)


The Last Ride: 22 May 2022

30 May 2022

May 22, 2022: Three Bridges circular

At Brambletye Manor

On the ride: Doris, Nick,Jim, Angela and Wendy

Sun was shining as we left Three Bridges station having got off a Thameslink overcrowded train due to Victoria station being closed again.

This was an epic ride with everything you would want on a day’s cycling adventure. Up hill and down dale, Jim pointing out Jacobean mansions and almshouses. Nick taking picture of Flora and fauna (I had not seen wild garlic before); Italian restaurant with bargain lunch, winery with expensive wine. Reservoirs with twitchers. Boulders with climbers. Wonderful vistas at the top of hills. And sun all the way. Perfect!

May 22, 2022: Three Bridges circular

Stone Farm Rocks

We set off on NCN21 Worth Way country Park, cycling down bridle paths with overhanging lush greenery, still damp from the rain on Friday, but no puddles, just enough to have that fresh summer smell. Passing the old Rowfant station, headed on to Crawley Down. Stopped for lunch in the centre of East Grinstead at an Italian. (Angela left us there to return home) The next leg was most interesting with various levels of cycling and places of interest to enjoy. Stopped at Tulleys for tea. Then home by 6pm. A really wonderful ride, thank you Jim for sharing your knowledge, can’t wait to do it again.

Wendy

May 22, 2022: Three Bridges circular

Plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe at Sackville College almshouse, East Grinstead, with a patient. Nice to see a statue depicting healing rather than warfare.

Click here for more photos.


The Last Ride: 8th May

17 May 2022

Shoreham circular (via Knepp Wildland)

May 8, 2022: Shoreham Circular (via Knepp Wildland)

Although Dave had suggested the cycle ride to the Knepp rewilding project, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to attend. I wasn’t entirely sure of the route, so it was a relief that Dave was waiting for us as we emerged from Shoreham station. Sikka, Tessa, Doris, Jim and Nick joined Dave for this cycling expedition.

We were all hopeful we would be able to see some of Knepp’s nesting storks we had read about. The ‘No Mow May’ campaign had highlighted the benefits of rewilding, so it was particularly appropriate that we were heading out on a cycle ride to what is possibly the UK’s most impressive rewilding project.

After following the Downs Link from Shoreham, the route to Knepp was reasonably straightforward (see Strava link). As the grim Ukraine conflict continues to grind on, it was good to see a display of Ukraine solidarity on our route.

May 8, 2022: Shoreham Circular (via Knepp Wildland)

We made good progress and arrived in Knepp just after noon. A chalk board inside a gift shop listed the interesting wildlife sightings of the day. Although I was fixated on stork spotting in the limited time we had there, it was good to know that there were also opportunities to see white tailed eagles, nightingales, reed warblers and cuckoos. A longer bird spotting trip might be required next time.

A helpful member of the Knepp team directed us to the spot where one of the storks was nesting. We were lucky enough to meet a birdwatcher who encouraged us to watch the nesting stork with the telescope he had set up. We were a few days too early to see any hatched storklets, but it was fascinating to watch the stork perched high up on the tree in front of us. Dave’s stork photos on Facebook are very impressive, but I also tried to capture the moment with a few photos (see Flickr photo pool).

After our Knepp stork spotting episode, we cycled to the nearby Tates Old Barn Garden Centre. I couldn’t be bothered to join the queue for food, so ate a roll I had brought with me instead. We were all amazed that the largest stag garden ornament retailed for more than £3,000. Although it was an undeniably impressive looking stag, I think I would stick with garden gnomes if I had a garden.

May 8, 2022: Shoreham Circular (via Knepp Wildland)

After lunch, a return route was devised which didn’t repeat the cycle ride from Shoreham (see Strava link). Although the Knepp ride idea was Dave’s, it was good to have input from everyone on the preferred route home. Thanks to all cyclists (and storks) who made this such an enjoyable day.

Nick

Anyone for asparagus


The Last Ride 24th April 2022

2 May 2022

Three Bridges to Haywards Heath

Led by Jim Grozier accompanied by Doris, Angela D and Sikka

This was a perfect day for a cycle ride, sunny with a light breeze. From Three Bridges Station we paused at the plaque in Haslett Road acknowledging Caroline Haslett, the first Director of the Electrical Association for Women in 1924.

Haslett Plaque

We then took the NCN20 Tilgate Drive cycle track through Tilgate Forest, cycling along woodland tracks with blue sky and puffy white clouds showing above the light Spring canopy over a surface that alternated between gravel and, mostly hard, sand.

It was only when we emerged onto tarmac that we came across the sought after sea of bluebells and yet later on, carpets of late wood anenomes.

Bluebells

We crossed over the motorway (M23) onto quiet, undulating roads with colourful views across valley and hill as the trees thinned. Green velvet-hatted oaks lined roads and from every ridge appeared open landscapes of verdant green and gold.

From Peas Pottage we were rewarded with a long freewheel ride down Grouse Road then past Hammer Pond where the dam was created in service of the local iron works, thus its name!

Hammer Pond

We paused to photograph bluebells and were treated to the sight of bright green leafy chandeliers seemingly hanging in the air among the pillared trunks of beech.

Stopping at Staplefield for lunch at the Jolly Tanners we passed a cricket match on the village green. After a substantial repast we cycled a few miles to Cuckfield Golf Centre for coffee and a seat on the terrace with a splendid view and a sight of the Balcombe viaduct.

View from Cuckfield Golf Centre

Time to return home through Blunts Wood and Paige’s Meadow nature reserve to Haywards Heath station and thence by train to Brighton.

Thank you Jim for a delightful ride.

Sikka


The Last Ride 10th April 2022

18 April 2022

Berwick to Bexhill

Preface: I bought a book on Surrealism the day before this ride. Some might think it has influenced the following account; on the other hand it might all be true. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Pevensey Levels

We travelled the lanes of East Sussex in a long line, all of us following Nick, even though none of us could see him. Time got a bit stretched. We went through the lovely Abbot’s Wood, but the Abbot was out; luckily he had left us some bluebells. There were no cuckoos on the Cuckoo Trail, but plenty of horses and dogs. Time got stretched a bit more. Chilley Farm was a possible place to warm up, but instead we went to the Star. We all had wonderful lunches, except for Nick, because he wasn’t there.

Turnstones

On to … Bexhill! There were turnstones on the beach, turning stones, then a tea and marzipan stop at the far end of the beach. Wendy left early, sensibly, before things could start getting seriously weird – which they did, on the way home. The train was going to London Bridge, except that it wasn’t. We got off at Eastbourne and wandered around for a bit and looked at some sewing machines.

Singer

Then back to the station, the train on platform 1 was going to Brighton, but it wasn’t, that was platform 2 we needed, but that one was going to Bexhill. No, it was OK, it really was going to Brighton but so were six other bikes, all crammed into the same carriage, then a man in an electric wheelchair got on, accompanied by his dog Bentley. Luckily the guard was in good humour, but she did order two of the serious bikers (that’s not us btw) to move down the train, which they did, one carrying his bike. Tessa and Doris got off at Brighton and Sikka at Falmer; Jim and Sally didn’t get off at London Road because it didn’t stop there, but that was OK because we weren’t on the train anyway. And nor was Nick – but where was he?

Thanks to Doris and Sikka for a lovely, invigorating ride. And, of course, to Nick.

Jim.

*The three sisters never made it to Moscow.


The Last Ride 13th March 2022

26 March 2022

Haywards Heath to Burgess Hill (amended from HH to Wivelsfield) via Chailey

March 13, 2022: Haywards Heath to Wivelsfield

There were 8 of us: Doris, Sika, Tessa, Angela D., Sally, Nick, Dave Churchill, led by Jim. We left by the west side of Haywards Heath station, and took a loop south-west through Bolnore and Ashenground Woods, to cross back to the east side of the railway. The woods were showing primroses and wood anemones, and later, on our return to Burgess Hill, lots of wild garlic leaves. Clumps of daffodils, snowdrops, and “snowflake” were planted here and there beside the paths.

This was sold to us as a ride of moderate length (15 miles, though it turned out to be more like 16½); however what it lacked in horizontal mileage it certainly made up for in ups and downs. That’s the price for enjoying the woodlands, running water, birdsong, and all the varied landscape of the so-called “Low” Weald. I also enjoy place-names, and the hints they offer of earlier rural life—Butterbox Lane and Beggarwood Lane, for example.

East Mascalls Bridge

Near East Maskells, Jim pointed out the Cockhaise Brook, and at Freshfield Bridges the Ouse, oozing swiftly beneath our feet. He had tried out The Sloop inn at Freshfield, on his reconnaissance ride, as a possible lunch stop, but rejected it as “too posh.” So on we struggled (me and Angela) or glided (Tessa Sika, Doris, with battery assistance) or pedalled manfully (Nick, Dave and Jim). I’m sorry to admit it but there was a gender divide in this respect.

March 13, 2022: Haywards Heath to Wivelsfield

Our return route took us alongside Red House Common, Chailey Common and Pound Common, where we looked out for wild ponies but didn’t see any. In summer, these would be lovely places to stop and even have a picnic. The Cock at Wivelsfield Green was a welcome sight, and they fed us well. Nick left us before lunch for another engagement. Dave stayed briefly to have a coffee, and read us a piece of Haywards Heath history: a small-holding community called “America” was founded there in 1823 by a Quaker philanthropist called William Allen. The remaining six of us stayed at the table eating and talking till our strength was restored. Then we had only 3 or 4 miles to the station; Burgess Hill as it turned out, when Angela suggested a diversion from Jane’s Lane, to avoid so much riding on the road. We were home by 4.30-ish pm.

This was a lovely occasion to see some Clarion faces again and to notice the first signs of spring.

Sally


The Last Ride: Sunday 6th February 2022

21 February 2022

Burgess Hill to Hassocks via Plumpton and Ditchling

Angela Devas

Five jolly mudlarkers Jim, Nick, Tessa, Colin and Angela D., assembled at Burgess Hill for a supposedly short round trip via pub and tea shop. Jim was our soi-disant leader but in fact it was his trailing waterproof trousers which led the way. Most of the time they were down by his ankles, held ‘up’ as it were by his bicycle clips and at one point he even produced a little tail – a mysterious pouch on a string which was hastily hidden away before a photograph could be taken. Speculation as to what this little bag contained – a list of all the missing Clarion members since 1905? A mini electric bike charger for his whistle? – was curtailed by the arrival of more rain.

February 6, 2022: Burgess Hill to Hassocks

I’m not sure who decided it would be a good idea to ‘cycle’ through Ditchling Common. Tessa, on her electric bicycle, gave one look and opted for a nice, asphalted road. The rest of us slid, slided and shambled our away through treacherous, sucking mud, our bicycles protesting loudly while we tried to maintain a vaguely upright position. As ever, the Clarion spirit prevailed and we were not beguiled into falling into the deep clay ruts.

February 6, 2022: Burgess Hill to Hassocks

The Plough  at Plumpton put us in a back room but gave us all a slap-up lunch including plenty of chips, lovingly photographed by Nick. Our route home took in culture as we paused to admire some arty sculptures made from scrap metal but we did not linger too long as were all a little fearful that our own weather-beaten and somewhat decrepit bicycles might be co-opted for the display. 

February 6, 2022: Burgess Hill to Hassocks

Our intrepid Clarionistas then battled a driving westerly wind, more rain, and further off-road shenanigans to arrive at a tea shop in Ditchling, leaving our bikes in a dedicated parking space which consisted of a narrow door, navigation around enormous bins and ascension of several steps to a tiny space with old fashioned, back-breaking, wheel-gripping bike racks. However the intention was there. By this time Nick had left and Colin chose a different route so three of us made it back to the station.

Many thanks to Jim for organising this and for phoning pub and pre-ordering meals. It was a grand ride.


The Last Ride: January 23, 2022

3 February 2022

Preston Park Circular (via Hurstpierpoint

It was a chilly and overcast January Sunday morning when we gathered for Jim’s ride in Preston Park.  Although Jim turned up, he didn’t feel well enough to participate in any cycling activity. He assured us that his flu-like symptoms weren’t Covid-related and briefed me with details of the proposed route. We were left with directions in writing and a photocopied map, which proved to be very helpful as we attempted to navigate our way to the lunchtime pub stop in Hurstpierpoint.

January 22, 2022: Preston Park circular (via Hurstpierpoint)


Angela D, Nick, Doris, Sarah, Dave, Tessa, Wendy T & Brigiite were the eight cyclists who took part in the ride. A particular welcome to Sarah & Brigitte, who were cycling with us for the first time.
Angela and myself were the only ones in the group with conventional pedal bikes. I think this was the most e-bikes I’ve seen on a Clarion outing. I did rather envy those who didn’t have to peddle up the steep hill leaving Preston Park. Tessa identified one of the drawbacks of e-bikes just before we were about to enter Stanmer Woods, when she realised that her bike didn’t have enough battery charge to complete the ride and decided it was best if she headed home. After saying farewell to Tessa, we headed
In Stanmer Woods we came across a large group of off-road cyclists, who all had e-bikes. I hadn’t realised that e-bikes could be used in that way. Perhaps Clarionistas with e-bikes could fit wider tyres and give the off-road cycling experience a go in Stanmer Woods next time? Off-roading on an e-bike certainly looked like fun.
The cold weather meant there was no interest from anyone in buying an ice cream from the van in Ditchling Beacon car park. The lunch stop in Hurstpierpoint wasn’t far away, where it was assumed there might be some warm food available. After descending Ditchling Beacon, we passed Clayton train tunnel and the Children of the Fair statues in Hurstpierpoint before reaching the Horse Inn lunch stop.

January 22, 2022: Preston Park circular (via Hurstpierpoint)


There was a mixup with a food order and a delay in preparing my bowl of Horse Inn chips, which meant our lunch break was longer than expected.  We had time to discuss selfish motorists parking on pavements, and a few other important topics, during this longer than usual lunch break. Jim’s ride route after lunch was supposed to go via Devil’s Dyke and end up in Hove Park, but it was decided that we all wanted to take a faster route back to Brighton. The cycle track alongside the Brighton Road dual carriageway is noisy and not particularly pleasant, but it did mean we were back in Brighton by just after 3pm.
As we left the Horse Inn, we finally caught up with Dave, who had spent a shortened lunch break in a bus shelter. He had missed us at the start of the ride and was the only one of the group who decided to take the Devil’s Dyke route back to Brighton. I would also have taken the Devil’s Dyke route if the day had been longer and slightly less chilly.Thanks to Jim for a great winter ride. Thanks also to his excellent directions, which enabled us to complete the ride without him being there.
Ride report by Nick


The Last Ride 12th December 2021

27 December 2021

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.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

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.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

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.

December 12, 2021: Haywards Heath circular

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