The Last Ride: Sunday 7 April 2019 – Berwick to Hastings – Sally and Nick Report

15 April 2019

Berwick to Hastings by way of Arlington, Abbots Wood, Glynleigh Levels. Pevensey Levels, Normans Bay and Bexhill.

Part 1 (Sally)

Graham led his flock of 12 assorted cyclists from Berwick station (most of us having arrived from Brighton on the 10.05 train) on a varied and beautiful excursion through farmland and woodland, over marshes and along the shoreline, to the De La Warr Pavilion, where four of us peeled away after a late lunch to take the 16.30 train home from Bexhill station: Angela C., Bill, Wendy Taylor, and Sally. This was Bill’s first ride with the Clarion and it was his birthday. Welcome, Bill, please come on lots more rides. The other nine carried on for après ride activities in Hastings, and I cannot say what they got up to there: Graham, Wendy Scott, Angela D., Prudence, Tessa, Sikka, Nick, David, Chris.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

The day was mild and hazy, with a thin mist that never quite cleared, and at one stage turned into a gentle sprinkle of rain. Most of the rain fell while we were in the Pavilion, eating expensive but very nice food, and looking at an exhibition on Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, called “And Still I Rise” (after a poem by Maya Angelou), and paintings by Hayv Kahramans, Iraqi Kurd artist who had left as a refugee during the first Gulf War, when she was still a little girl.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Our ride was remarkable for the virtual absence of undulations, just the occasional hump-backed bridge over the many watercourses on the Levels. The woodland edges were embroidered with birdsong and emergent wild-flowers. I look forward to seeing Nick’s (and perhaps also Tessa’s) pictures of ladies’ smocks along the ditches, primroses, ferns, wood anemones, bluebells just beginning to unfurl, dog violets, lesser celandines…Not many insects about, and though we took in a snatch of the Cuckoo Trail, no hint of a cuckoo.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Along the Levels, the lanes followed the drainage ditches for much of the way, where last year’s dried reeds and reed-mace were still standing high, pale gold and ghostly, and I couldn’t help thinking how they will be full of birds in a month, when the new stalks have grown. I hope so, anyway. At the side of one lane we were saddened to find a dead badger. Tessa and Sikka caught a glimpse of a stoat (alive), and Wendy T. and Sally saw a red partridge near to Normans Bay; this was alive too but didn’t deserve to be, as it was trying to hurl itself under a car.

It was too early in the season to be tempted into the sea, but on a future occasion we might have to take swimming gear. It’s a relaxed sort of beach, and might be an irresistible destination at the end of a ride on a hot day.

Twenty-two miles for the revellers who went on to Hastings, twenty for the other four of us, and a very pleasant journey it was.

Part 2 (Nick)

After two hours of art, feminism and food in the De La Warr Pavilion, the remaining nine of us were keen to cycle the six miles along the coastal path to Hastings and complete the route devised by Graham. The rain we had observed during lunch had stopped, which made the final leg of the ride a pleasant experience.

April 7, 2919: Berwick to Hastings

When we reached Hastings, three of the group (Sikka, Tessa and Angela D) decided to head straight to Hastings station and return home. The remaining six of us were keen to investigate one of the pubs Graham had researched for the end of the ride.

Before we all headed to a pub in Hastings Old Town, Wendy was keen to follow the main road to see where it led to. We ended up in a car park with a good view of the coastline and marvelled at the effects of dramatic coastal erosion on a path, which had been completely destroyed.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Graham’s suggestion of Hastings pub was a good one. The Crown is an independent pub, with local suppliers for its food and drink. I decided I didn’t need any food, so concentrated on sampling an excellent oatmeal stout instead. All the food looked good and Wendy’s vegan rhubarb pudding tasted particularly delicious.

April 7, 2019: Bexhill to Hastings

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

We spent quite a while in The Crown discussing train times and made the travel options back to Brighton appear more complicated than they really were. Sunday trains can often be uncomfortably packed in the evening, but we found seating together to talk about the great day out out we had all had.

Sally and Nick


Last Ride – Sikka’s Report

26 March 2019

Sunday 24 March 2019

Circular from Brighton Palace Pier via Peacehaven

Graham, Prudence, Chris, David, Wendy S-M, Wendy T, Sikka, Tessa, Angela C, Nick, Richard and Rachel set off along Madeira Drive past the beginnings of a Motorbike Festival and onto the Undercliff. In Saltdean Angela peeled off for a friend’s leaving celebration and 11 of us continued up onto the cycle/pedestrian path, climbed a grassy knoll and examined a monument commemorating the Second World War. Wendy surpassed herself by commenting that the Meridian Line Monument would be better placed on that spot – then realised the implications!!

Graham, David and Prudence were so engrossed in a conversation about the Puttenham/Surrey trip they didn’t notice us move off and got left behind with Wendy T, who had no idea where the rest of us had gone. Looking back further on, our valiant leader, Wendy S-M spotted our 4 laggards diverting into the NCR2 and assumed they were heading for the Gateway Cafe. Graham had sung its praises as an alternative to the planned vegan coffee stop – what, coffee without cow’s milk?! So we continued without them – now down to 7.

A glorious view awaited us as we cycled behind the houses by the edge of the cliffs with the blue sky above and the sea spread out below. The day was so warm we shed layers, even divesting ourselves of our hi-vi’s as we were safely away from traffic. We had time to descend onto the Peacehaven undercliff, so quiet and deserted, with the cliffs looking sheer and very high above us.  Back up to the cliff path again and our refreshment stop at the Road Shack cafe where we enjoyed the novelty of coffees made with oatly milk, the nearest vegan equivalent to cow’s milk – and bemoaned Brexit.

March 24, 2019: Brighton Pier via Peacehaven to Cowley Club Vegan Beer Festival

On the way back we noticed the russet and yellow and sometimes purple of wallflowers decorating the tops of the cliffs behind the safety fence. At Telscombe Chris chose to make his way over the Tye to Lewes, so we were down to 6 riders until we met up again with the 4 Gateway Cafe splitters and boasted 10 until Prudence left us in Rottingdean! Here we took the cycle track along the main road as the undercliff was crowded, and back to Brighton where we managed to wind out way through the crowds in North Laine who were enjoying the Spring sunshine and arrive at the Crowley Club for a roast lunch and to participate in their Vegan Beer Festival. Here one topic of conversation focused around why vegans put up with imitation ‘meat’ products?

We were very pleased to welcome Rachel and Wendy T as new members of Clarion and hope to see them both again soon.

Sikka (with help from other Clarionistas)

The Last Ride – Angela’s Report

14 March 2019

Sunday 10 March 2019: Three Bridges Circular via Weir Wood Reservoir

Ride leader – Jim Grozier; Present – Angela D, Tessa, Sally, Wilma

The high winds were so blustery on Sunday that one poor clarionista managed to get herself lost… on Brighton Station. However, she (sadly, it was the report writer who achieved this feat) was successfully scooped up by the other riders and deposited on a train to Three Bridges. The experience being a little overwhelming it was decided to stop at Three Bridges itself and have a coffee break – well the latter word is a misnomer as we weren’t breaking in the middle, we hadn’t even started. The others had coffee and buns – I suppose the politically correct word nowadays is Viennese pastries – but the writer had a crepe with scrambled eggs, although that term ‘crepe’ will be redundant by March 29th.


We all disembarked successfully and set out on the Worth trail, but the wind had other ideas and our way was soon impeded by a fallen tree. We all tip-toed round daintily and gallantly helped each other and our bicycles get to the other side.

This procedure unfortunately had to redone on several occasions, but we were helped by having some nice views of a pond and later of Gullege which apparently features in Pevsner and there was some discussion of whether Pevsner could be viewed online (he can’t) and talk of architecture and previous rides when people were knowledgeable enough to quote Pevsner in their reports.

Lunch was very welcome at Dunnings Mill where several of us had a vegetarian Wellington with lots of gravy and trimmings and I think we were all too windswept for any controversy.


IMG_1052aWe visited Weir Wood reservoir where some clarionistas, sensibly equipped with binoculars, were able to see the birdlife.

Then we managed to totter along a steep bridleway with some interesting big stones called Stone Farm Rocks but our eyes were a too glued to the stony and/or muddy path to take much in.


The high Weald is, unfortunately, rather high, and it was some rather weary legs who pushed bicycles up and up and then it seemed like up again. Where were the downhills? They seemed to have absented themselves. We stopped at Tulleys farm and their rather strangely named Escape Room offered us tea in plastic cups in front of a wondrously warm woodburning stove but night was coming on and after sending out several different scouting expeditions to find the toilets, we set off again.


We returned to the Worth trail for the last part of the ride, and this time round, at the fallen tree obstructions, all decorum and bicycle etiquette was abandoned in favour of slinging our bicycles over in one fell swoop. There was a train perfectly timed for our departure and fatigued but happy riders returned to Brighton.

Thanks to Jim for organising the ride.

Angela Devas

The Last Ride: Sunday 24 February 2019 – Berwick Circular

27 February 2019

A wonderful Spring-like morning presented the perfect day for a Clarion ride – but was the fact that it was combining with the Marathon day going to mean problems ? No – although the station was full of barriers and indeed people, it did not that stop 11 Clarionistas finding spaces on the Berwick train . They were :- Angela D – Chris – David – Graham (our leader ) – John – Joyce – Marilyn – Nick – Prudence – Sikka – Wendy.

24 Feb Berwick circular

Once at Berwick we assembled for the traditional photos – thanks to a kind driver and David – (hope the photos are available. See Flickr). Then off for what turned out to be a wonderful ride. By that time the weather had settled into strong sunlight with an underlying breeze , which although slightly nippy , did not spoil the pleasure of a strong sun, cloudless sky, views of green meadows, and trees etched across that sky . All this whilst riding roads which seemed remarkably quiet . True they were “undulating” (seriously in some cases ) . But the long downhills made up for that . I noted with interest that there were amongst us four electric bike users. True that certainly made the long uphills more pleasant for me but those who relied on their muscles and trusty bikes managed wonderfully .

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

Arriving at the proposed stop for coffee it was agreed that our pleasures in the experience (and the odd little chat) , had made us potentially for lunch so it was unanimously agreed that it would be comfort stop rather than coffee one .

So off for the next section. This started with the Cuckoo Trail to Horam . I love the Cuckoo Trail – have very good memories going right back to the early days of B &H Clarion , (in fact the very first ride ) so it was a pleasure for me and as it looked like for everyone . Then onwards to Lions Green and south to Chiddingly for lunch at the Six Bells . An amazing place – unimaginably busy but able to provide food for 11 people within about 30 minutes.

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

I can’t go through the everyone’s menu – except to say that Nick said he was very pleased with the chips (of which he is a connoisseur) . I had the last vegan nut roast which very good indeed and so generous that I could not finish completely – I remember comments on salmon – and hopes for the Spotted Dick which was awaited .

February 24, 2019: Berwick circular

The next stage was the route to Berwick Station . John and I left before the others because we had need to be in Brighton and could not risk missing the train. However, although we made good speed (and really made up the exercise for the day), we nevertheless got the train with the rest and we all travelled back to Brighton together.

24 Feb Berwick circular

So here’s to say thanks to Graham for a very well worked-out ride – which I found was plotted through Rides with GPS which gives plots of hills , Bridleways can be checked– and he uses google street views to check junctions road conditions etc. Then download to GPS and much more . All that is completely beyond me…. Just maps and reckies for me – and I know Graham also uses them – but this time for Graham it produced a great ride .

Joyce Edmond-Smith

More photos on Flickr

The Last Ride: Sunday 10 February – Clarion Relay Run to Worthing

11 February 2019

Pouring with rain at 9.30am & so  we decide not to go,but it stopped at 9.45 so we set out. Headwind so strong that I had to pedal down Duke’s Mound & decide that I’ll only make it to Palace Pier meeting point & then enjoy the tailwind home.

However – at pier I see almost 8 people in yellow vests & rain gear all ready for the off. There’s Joyce & John Clinton, whom we’d not seen for a while, David – our leader, already cycled from Shoreham & hardly wet at all, though he said storms were expected at Shoreham at 11am & dark clouds surrounded us. Chris, Mick, Sikka, All ready to face the 20+mph headwinds & gusts. Chris was asked to take a photo for another group or pier pleasure-seekers but general view was that our Clarion Group Pic could wait till Marocco’s Cafe where we would be joined by Hovians.


Graham joined at Peace Statue & Tessa & Pru at the italian ice-cream cafe & we all had chat & photo op & ploughed on to next stage along the prom [as much as permitted] to Lagoon, where I again thought I could manage one more leg, though Harbour Way prospect was daunting in such strong winds. It seemed a long way to Carat’s Cafe but then I said, like Goethe at the San Gothard Pass “Thus far, but no further”. Mick ,who had a cold agreed to join me & the Clarion Convoy proceeded, hoping to lunch at southern end of Worthing Pier.

Joyce did suggest that I could ride to Worthing & take train back, but I was longing for the tailwind to carry me homeward bound. Mick & I had a little stop to watch the surfers ride the waves. There were at least 30 & two who had finished told me it was good out there. Saw a few crashes, but plenty more surfers arriving for the thrills. Windmills on horizon were enjoying the spin too!

Rain, sun & rainbows back in Brighton, but mostly wind!  Hope the rest of the bunch had fun & good fortune. I had a nap & Mick had the England – France rugby. Thanks to David for  a jolly ride [or-half a ride] or even less in our case.


Clarion Ride Palace pier to Worthing pier … a continuation.

Mick and Anne left us at Carats car park. We continued battling the headwind to Shoreham where David suggested a welcome coffee stop. On an earlier ride Prudence had discovered an upstairs ‘sitting room’ in Toast on the Coast cafe and recommended it. It was indeed delightful and though the coffee may not have been as good as the cafe next door chosen by Joyce and John, we enjoyed the convivial setting which we had to ourselves.

We reassembled, and all apart from Joyce and John decided to continue to Worthing. There was no sign of the predicted rain and the sky was lighting up with shreds of sunlight. We persevered into the headwind thinking how easy our return journey would be.

Worthing Pier 10th February

Arriving at Worthing pier David gave us the choice of two lunch stops, one either end of the pier. We chose the end of the pier because both sea and sky looked so magnificent and we would have those views. The building is Art Deco, warm and inviting with a discreet piano player for entertainment. Unfortunately the menu was sparse, most of us choosing baked potatoes with fillings. We were disappointed and all wished we had chosen Graham’s tomato and pepper soup. Conversation at both coffee and lunch stops centred on holidays of one sort or another- yachting, cycling, Center parcs and the Dieppe raid. Gardening was another subject, compost and the sex lives of worms – of which we knew little?

Clarion ride 10 February 2019

The sun was out when we set off home. As we approached Shoreham, grey skies appeared with a magnificent rainbow, then a smattering of rain. Apart for a few gusts the wind was with us. We gathered for a photo of the group on Shoreham Beach before leaving David at home and continuing eastwards fast to beat the rain.

Thank you David for trusting the weather and leading us on an invigorating ride.


The Last Ride –Nick’s Report

31 January 2019

Sunday 27th January – Hassocks to Shoreham

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

The intrepid trio gathered on Brighton station for Sunday’s ride included Nick, Prudence and ride leader Graham. Although the Clarionistas can be a hardy band of cyclists, the blustery and rainy January weather on Saturday night may well have deterred some from attending Graham’s Hassocks to Shoreham Sunday ride.

Bright sunshine created good light for a few group photos outside Hassocks station, as we prepared ourselves for the first leg of Graham’s ride. Morning coffee in Washbrook Farm was our first stop and a relatively short cycle ride away.

By the time we arrived at Washbrook Farm, foreboding rain clouds had replaced the blue skies we had experienced earlier in the morning. I had read there was a 33% chance of rain on the BBC’s weather forecast,  so the dark clouds weren’t entirely unexpected.

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

Although we had only cycled a couple of miles, it was quite hard to move away from the warm wood fire we had been sitting in front of to resume our ride. Instead of cycling against the wind to the Partridge pub in Partridge Green for lunch, we agreed with Graham that we should change the lunchtime destination to the Fox in Small Dole.

We were an abstemious bunch for our lunchtime meal. Both Prudence & myself opted for lime & soda, which I combined with a packet of salt & vinegar crisps. Graham seemed to be enjoying his leek & potato soup and half of ale. Although the crisps I ate were perfectly fine, maybe I’ll sample the soup next time.

The ride after lunch was particularly enjoyable. We cycled through Bramber to join the South Downs Way and Downs link. I’ve never invested in a pair of waterproof trousers, so felt slightly left out as Graham and Prudence took the opportunity to change into their waterproof trousers under a bridge during a sudden rain shower. The rain stopped as soon as 2/3 of the group had changed into their over-trousers and I decided I could probably continue taking part in rides without adding trouser waterproofs to my cycling baggage.

The waterproof trousers break was the last I saw of the rest of the group for a while. I became distracted when photographing dark clouds over the River Adur. By the time I had finished photographing clouds and a South Downs Way sign, my Clarion comrades were nowhere to be seen.

I knew the direction to Shoreham, so continued along the River Adur in an attempt to catch up with the rest of the group. The abandoned London double decker buses and Underground sign left outside the dilapidated former Shoreham cement works seemed worthy of a few brief photographs.

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

I had photographed the Underground sign and an abandoned fire engine when someone drove up in a 4×4 to tell me I was trespassing on private property. I never did find out why the London buses had been left in the former Shoreham cement works, but it would be great to return to take a few more photos of the London bus graveyard very soon.

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

I caught up with Graham a few minutes later. He told me that he and Prudence had been waiting in the cold for me for about 10 minutes. I had to apologise for my photographic diversions and hoped he appreciated why I found a London Underground sign in the Shoreham cement works so intriguing.

Prudence had gone on ahead to seek out a suitable end-of-ride coffee stop. Ginger & Dobbs was a fine place to end the ride. As well as drinking coffee, Graham and myself agreed to sit still while Prudence drew our hands for an art course she was doing. Perhaps there’s a future for the two of us as male models?

As ever, thanks to Graham for organising a terrific cycle ride. I must try and take fewer photographs and peddle faster next time.

January 27, 2019: Hassocks to Shoreham

The Last Ride: Sunday 13th January 2019 –  Balcombe to Wivelsfield

14 January 2019

January 13, 2019: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

Jim, Sally, Wendy, Sikka, Angela, Mic and Nick caught the early train (9.08!) to Balcombe. The weather was good – fresh and bright and in the afternoon wintry sunshine bathed the countryside in beauty. Now and then we were treated to the scent of woodsmoke as we cycled among the wooded hillsides. Views opened up between the trunks of trees whose discarded leaves lay dry and brown below and after reaching the summit of each undulation we were treated to far-reaching panoramas.

January 13, 2019: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

We came across a few interesting curiosities on our journey, offering momentary respite from the rigours of cycling. First, an essential pause to admire the magnificent Balcombe Viaduct, next in a set of diversified farm buildings, the offer of counselling, foot health and trichology at the Hair Sanctuary. Lindfield was noted to have a number of attractive Georgian homes and taking a short cut along a bridleway we stopped to admire a smallholding and envied the smallholder her cup of tea! She told us about her hens, pygmy goats, rabbits and fighting cockerels.

January 13, 2019: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

We were joined in The Farmers at Scaynes Hill for lunch by Graham, Prudence and Chris who had taken a later train. The menu catered for various diets and Wendy was able to enjoy the rare treat of a totally vegan nut roast meal – while sitting under the head of a magnificent hunted stag. Over the meal Angela proposed a toast to one of our members on account of his promotion to Compost Monitor in his neighbourhood. Much discussion ensued about compost and the compost monitor and Mic asked ‘was the compost monitor ‘compos mentos?’

January 13, 2019: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

In the afternoon we all cycled back to Wivelsfield station together and landed safely back in Brighton just as dusk was falling.

Thank you Jim for a very enjoyable ride.

Report put together by Sikka from various contributions over lunch!


The need for speed (Graham)

After plugging Jim’s excellent ride instructions into Ridewithgps and despite the extreme undulations revealed i thought it possible to do a fast ride starting an hour later and catch up with the advance group before lunch. So it was that Graham, Chris and Prudence set off from Balcombe station at 10:45 following Jim’s route. We caught up after 9.5 miles and an hours hard cycling free of chickens, roadkill and viaduct photos while approaching the Sloop Inn with 2 miles to go to lunch. The run was helped by enabling live tracking on WhatsApp so that Nick, Wendy and I could look at each others progress. Later there were murmerings of no signal and we would have cycled faster if we knew you were catching up. So could we!

Thanks to Jim for organising the ride and an excellent lunch stop.