The Last Ride. Sikka’s Report

12 January 2018

Sunday 7 January 2018: Cooden to Catsfield circular

Catsfield's other church
Catsfield’s other church

Present:   Jim, Wendy, Angela D, Tessa and Sikka.   On the long journey to Cooden Beach we changed trains at Eastbourne.    Attempting to leave our bikes locked on the platform we were warned we risked a £50 fine as police surveillance had already alerted the security staff of the potential threat they posed!   We moved them.

Out of Cooden Beach station we cycled northwards through quiet residential streets, eventually climbing our first hill up Peartree Lane. The discovery of hills on this route, having been absent from the outline for the ride and presumably not experienced on the previous, identical, excursion, it was concluded that climate change, with consequent continental drift, had caused tectonic plates to collide and raise the land around Cooden to new heights. Satisfied with this explanation we ploughed on.

We paused at High Woods carpark and noted signs for a quarry on the opposite side of the road.   On the way back we would pass on the other side of this quarry and see massive high towers of  building bricks.  Must be a brick-works??

Donkey silhouette

Skyline at the top of Potman’s Lane. Can you spot the donkey?

A delicious lunch at the White Hart in Catsfield was followed by an adventure in mud and water when the group opted to follow the longer, off-road route back to Cooden via Coombe Valley countryside park.     To recover from this ordeal, we took refuge in the Cooden Beach Hotel for a celebration of Tessa’s birthday with tea and scones and the singing of ‘happy birthday’.

The weather was cold but sunny with blue skies, a fine day to be on a bike.   The countryside was varied, lots of woods and fields and quiet lanes – and hills.

Altogether a delightful ride in good company.   Thank you Jim


Sunset sky at Cooden Beach

Sunset sky over Cooden Beach



The Brunch Ride – 2 January

12 January 2018

Clarion at Carats

L-R Anne, Mick, Coralie, Joyce, Leon, Wendy, Sue, Ian, Julia, Jim, Suzanne, Angela.

Reporter: Did you have a good start to the New Year?

Clarionette: It was great. We went to Carat’s café and had a good old chin-wag.

Reporter:  Who’s “we”.

Clarionette:  Well, there was Angela C and Angela D; Coralie, Fred and Ian; all the Js – Jim, John, Joyce and Julia with Leon, Mick, Roger Sue, Suzanne, not forgetting Wendy.

Reporter:  And what were your chins wagging about?

Clarionette:  The usual:  aches and pains; slipping gears and soggy saddles; Corbyn, Lucas and May; golf and grandchildren; holidays and housework; housing and homelessness. Everything really.

Reporter:  And a good ride there and back?

Clarionette:  Bracing might be the word.  A brisk south-west wind didn’t really slow us down after we’d set off from the Palace Pier on the way there and the tipping rain was more or less on our backs on the return journey.

Reporter:  And I suppose you all got there on your bikes?

Clarionette:  No comment.

Reporter:  Not even a hint?

Clarionette: State secret!

Reporter:  OK.  OK.  See you next year.


The Last Ride: Sunday 10 December 2017 – Burgess Hill to Hassocks via Ditchling

15 December 2017

Angela D, Wendy and Julian met at Brighton Station and took the 10.14 train to Burgess Hill. At first we  walked along a soggy footpath parallel to the railway on its east side. A kind young man helped lift our three bikes over a low style where the footpath ended. The bridleway, with a better surface, then took us NE, first across another railway with unguarded gates, to Hope Farm, just after we had left the clutches of the extending Burgess Hill.  We soon crossed the busy B2112 and arrived, partly on very narrow muddy tracks into woodland and then to pass across the Ditchling Common Country Park, the higher open parts exposing us to strong cold wind gusts. Leaving through the car park, we headed south on the Spatham Lane minor road when the heavy rain started and continued until we reached the B2116 just east of Ditchling, which we skirted on its north side down East Lane. 
Thoroughly soaked we arrived at The Bull Inn by 13.00 pm and noted its newly opened south side extension. We were ushered to a back room with a table for four by an open log fire, the heat from which soon dried us out. The menu was extensive, including catering for a Vegan diet. The three of us tucked into excellently prepared plates of food, served by friendly young staff.   Apart from exclamations over the splendid flavours, discussion centred on the effects of class and financial inequalities on state and private school and university education and also on the use of the NHS.
Fully sated we hurried west along the main road through Keymer to the Hassocks Station. When a sodden return rail ticket was rejected by the platform entrance gate, modern technology came to the rescue, whereby the Assistance Unit enabled the station attendant on a different platform to view the ticket and open the gate. Our 7 mile excursion had been carefully planned by Angela and Wendy on two outings – no wonder, with The Bull Inn feasting test!  Other members had missed out on a pleasant ride, appropriate for a short and cold winter’s day. Thank you Angela and Wendy.  


The Last Ride: Sunday 26 November 2017 – Shoreham to Steyning

29 November 2017


Anne, Mick, Jim, Prudence and Tessa travelled to Shoreham by train and were met outside the station by Julia, enjoying a warm patch of sun, out of the wintry northeast wind. Chris and David and Dave joined the group, also newcomer Mike who had cycled from Hove.

We set off and crossed the wooden bridge over the River Adur. Jim photographed the section of train track that lies beside the new stretch of cycle/walking path not yet open to the public.

Old railway lines

We crossed the A27 and set off up Coombes Lane.

As it was a short ride we had decided at the station on two Church stops. The first was Coombes, set above Coombes Farm on our left.

Coombes Church

Coombes Church

This Saxon church, mentioned in the Domesday Book, was a delight. Many of us had not visited it before. Terracotta painted frescoes of biblical scenes decorated the walls and seemed in good condition. There was a note pinned to the church door asking people to leave it slightly ajar as a wren had built her nest in the church.

View from Coombes Church

The graveyard

The only serious hill on the ride took us to Botolphs and we sailed down to view the church. We decided that this church, also built in the 11th century was less interesting than the first. It had been ’got at’ by the Victorians and there were only traces of the original frescoes.


Botolphs Church

We joined the Downs Link, avoiding the busy road crossing by taking a detour to the river and back. At the A283 roundabout we rode up the gentle hill into Steyning, some using the pavement as the road was busy.

Bikes were parked at the White Horse pub which most opted for as a lunch stop. Dave left us at this point as he had afternoon commitments.

Julia, Mike and Tessa chose the Steyning Tearooms for lunch, we all had delicious meals. The carnivores enjoyed lunch at the White Horse, the vegetarians were disappointed at the lack of choice.

After lunch Mick and Anne left as they had an afternoon concert to attend.

The rest of us set off, winding our way through Steyning till we came to a Downslink sign which took us back to the roundabout and the off-road path. Again we rode up to the river to avoid the road crossing and on to Shoreham with the wind behind us.

The view from Coombes Lane

The Adur Valley

A bit of confusion at the station meant that the three returning by train carried their bikes down steps to the tunnel to cross the track and then up again. Just in time to catch the train though, but not enough time to say goodbyes.

On the train Jim complained that his glove collection consisted mainly of right hand gloves. Tessa thought she had a spare left hand one at home and promised to check. Indeed she does!

Thank you Julia for planning the ride, and on such a gorgeous day!



At Botolphs

The Last Ride: Sunday 19 November 2017 – Palace Pier to Newhaven

17 November 2017

Nine of us gathered at the Palace Pier under blue skies and sunshine, but layered up with additional headgear etc against the cold North-Easterly wind. We were Julian, our leader, Angela D, Wendy, Prudence, Sikka, Leon, Joyce, Tessa and Jenny. We set off along the cycle path towards the Marina to the tune of “Oh when the Saints came marching in” being played by a young, uniformed, marching band participating in a Remembrance Day event.
The undercliff path was pleasantly sheltered from the wind, then we made our way up to cycle alongside the A259 for a short distance, until we joined the cycle route running through Peacehaven parallel to the main road. Peacehaven was remarkably devoid of trees, as Angela D pointed out later in the day, but looking between the houses, we could see glimpses of the downs to the left and sea views to the right. The newly surfaced cycle path on the western side of the A259 took us to the pedestrian traffic lights where we crossed to join Upper Valley Road. It was quite blustery on the higher ground, but we were rewarded with a lovely view down towards Seaford Bay and the white cliffs beyond. After a gentle descent we made our way along West Quay to find The Ark, which was our lunch stop. 
The Ark was warm and welcoming, with a comprehensive menu that seemed to suit everyone, and apparently the locals were impressed that we had cycled all the way from Brighton. After lunch, we split into two groups, some taking route a) back along the outward route, and the others taking route b), the cross country route.
Prudence, Angela D and I followed our leader through the backstreets of Newhaven to find the Sussex Ouse Valley Way, which proved to be fantastically scenic but also incredibly windy. The path was grassy but firm in spite of the recent rain. We passed Piddinghoe Lake and walked along the stretch by Piddinghoe village, as required.

Back on the bikes and along a minor road, then rejoined a newly surfaced stretch of the Sussex Ouse Valley Way up to Southease Bridge, and a quick stop at Southease church to admire the round tower.
With the wind proving utterly relentless and the sun already rather low, we unanimously agreed to forego the longer off road option b) with “a steep undulation” in favour of Julian’s new offer of route c). This was a delightful cycle along a quiet road towards Telscombe, with amazing views of the South Downs, which made Prudence contemplate capturing it all through the medium of paint on canvas. I reached for my iphone, which had inconveniently died.

We managed the downhill off-road section across Telscombe Tye with ease, and returned through Saltdean to rejoin the undercliff path. The sun was setting, giving a beautiful sky, but causing us all to reach for our bike lights. A few hundred yards later we were plummeted into darkness and managed to dodge the pedestrians on the undercliff, who were thoughtlessly devoid of lighting. The bright lights of the pier heralded the end of this really enjoyable ride. Hopefully Sikka, Tessa, Jenny, Joyce and Leon also had a good return journey.

Many thanks to Julian for planning such a great day’s cycling, and for coming up with a very timely 3rd option, which proved so spectacular.
Leon adds:

Five of the nine riders chose to return to Brighton on the same route as outward. Jenny went off first and fast using the A259, a road not favoured by other riders, who were, Joyce and Leon, Tessa and Sikka.

We retraced our route in the face of a gale and bright low level dazzling sunlight. Needless to say it was quite difficult at times but we all got back into Brighton refreshed by the cold wind and fulfilled by the experiences of the day.

Boots,  Leon

The Last Ride: Sunday 29 October 2017 – Jim’s Berwick Circular

3 November 2017

Slight showers at the start of the day, heralded a wonderful Autumn/Winter day, a little chilly but not too much, with a bright blue sky and continuing sun all day. Six of us arrived at the station to meet up with Julian who had generously stood in for Jim who unfortunately had damaged his leg and could not lead the ride – (hope all is well now Jim …):- We were Chris, Leon, Joyce, Prudence, Sika, Wendy and Julian, to be met at Berwick station by Angela.

Hence 8 of us started out on what proved to be a wonderful ride in perfect conditions. We followed Jim’s ride but, but with some variation. Start by passing Arlington Reservoir, then NE along the full length of Langtye Lane, and north along lovely quiet lanes with serene views across the Weald until we reached Church Lane for a stop at Laughton Church which as Jim mentioned in his description was once the seat of the famous Sussex Pelhams family. We pondered at the “The Buckle of Laughton” which we learned represents the sword buckle of the King of France who was captured by Sir John Pelham at Poitiers in 1356. The family vault beneath the chancel of All Saints Church, Laughton, includes coffins of one bishop, two Prime Ministers, three earls and a duke, and was sealed up in 1886. The nave is the oldest part of the church, in early English 13th century style, and retains two original lancet windows. The roof is of single frame construction with tie beams, and some of the medieval timber used still remains. The chancel is eighteenth century. It was well worth the time to look and admire.

Wild flowers still in Bloom 29th October.

After the tranquil time in the church grounds the group decided to make a variation by visiting “The Tower”, which served as a moated outlook tower and which is all that is left of a much larger house built in 1534, now owned by the Landmark Trust for holiday lets. To get to the Tower we were warned that the route would not only be “off road” but bumpy. This did not discourage the hardy Clarionets – except yours truly, who started the attempt but soon took very much against the teeth shattering, the head battering and the forlorn attempt to avoid the chasms … (well that’s how it felt anyway … ). Leon, in solidarity kept in pace and when we did arrive after a mixture of walking and very little riding we were glad to meet up with the others who had had their time at the tower and face the return to the “comfort” of a road!

But pleasure was to follow for us all when we reached the Roebuck Inn where we admired the beautiful pigs, had excellent food (nothing to do with the pigs) and discussions ranging around healthy eating and a range of alternative curative practices.

Our long lunch over and with concerns about timing and darkness catching us we agreed to forego the section of Vert Wood, retracing our route past the church and taking the road east along lovely quiet lanes and wonderful views through the villages of Ripe and Chalvington, to rejoin the road south past Arlington Reservoir to Berwick Station for the 15.44 train to Brighton and some 18 miles of cycling.

Thanks to Jim for offering the ride and great thanks to Julian for coming forward and providing (with the weather) a really lovely Autumn/Winter ride.

Joyce E-S

The Last Ride: Sunday 15 October 2017 – Hassocks to Shoreham

20 October 2017

Eight riders assembled at Hassocks railway station: Tessa, Sikka, Sue Priest, Joyce, Prudence, David Jeseph, Chris Smith, and Leon.

Clarion ride, between Shoreham rd Henfield and the Downslink 15-10-2017

A group photo was organised and some minor adjustments were made to Chris’s new e-bike before setting off toward Hurstpierpoint and Albourne. Motor traffic was light and the skies were grey but the temperature perfect for cycling.

We stopped for a moment in Blackstone village just to listen to the silence before continuing toward Small-Dole via Woodsmill.   Arriving at our lunch venue in Small Dole; the Fox public house a delightful small village pub.

Clarion ride 15-10-2017 The Fox PH Small-Dole.

Our lunch was served quickly and our topics of conversation were light-hearted and very entertaining on a number of subjects other than politics and world problems.

Clarion ride 15-10-2017Free apples

After lunch we all cycled back to New Hall lane where we soon spotted a basket of fine Brambly apples going free at the side of the lane, we eagerly helped ourselves to some of them before moving on and riding/walking across a damp grassy meadow before reaching the Downslink.

This section of the Downslink possess a varing quality of surface that can be a pleasure or torture only metres apart. On arriving at the Bramber Castle roundabout we regrouped and decided on who wished to use the ‘new’ super surfaced section of the Downslink that is slightly longer than the one that crosses the dangerous Bramber Bypass.

Clarion ride New Hall Lane Small-Dole 15-10-2017

Only Joyce and Leon chose the safe longer route but found in terms of time it was equal to the short route as we arrived at the river bridge near the cement works, together. After a short stop there we headed off along the river to regroup at the ‘old tollbridge’ only to find some confusion had caused a delay back at the first bridge where Joyce and Leon were not noticed waiting when the group crossed the bridge. Never mind, we were all accounted for at the Tollbridge.

Clarion ride 15-10-2017Joyce walk her bike across a damp grassy meadow

At this point we said goodbye to Prudence, Sue and Chris, leaving the remaining five to proceed into Shoreham for a delightful tea stop at Teddy’s  near the footbridge. Then quickly to the station for a train to Brighton where we were halted by thousands of football supporters flooding through the station and filling the trains, that’s great to get cars off the roads but very difficult to navigate while wheeling a bicycle amongst them in a station.
Thanks to Tessa and Sikka for organising and leading this super ride.