The Last Ride. Tessa’s Report

14 June 2018

Sunday 10 June 2018: ‘Five go down (and a little bit up) the Downslink’

Five of us gathered at Christ’s Hospital station. Angela D, Graham, Tessa and new to Clarion, Wendy T on her electric bike had caught the 9.27 train from Brighton.

Prudence caught the later train and was relieved to find us in the car park, thinking she may have missed us.

A delightfully rural station only a stone’s throw from the Downslink, we set off on a narrow grass-fringed track that soon widened . The route alternated between being tree-lined in dappled sunlight and rolling meadows and fields.

We had a loo stop at Southwater Country Park but were not tempted by the café, preferring to wait for Stan’s Bike Shack further along the route.. Families were out in force, many canoeing on the small lake.

Cycling past a sign saying Copsale, probably once a station but now there was no sign of it, Wendy T and I had a telepathic thought: ‘ We were the Famous Five on an adventure’ Only Timmy the dog was missing but there were plenty of those around, mainly of the Cockapoodle, Labradoodle varieties.

We hit West Grinsted Station which had a train carriage and a platform so it became our first photo-opportunity.


Arriving past a badly parked train carriage


Graham and Tessa



We joined a road through the village of Partridge Green and suddenly there was Stan’s Bike Shed!

A delightful coffee stop not only for its food offerings but also for its bike friendly ambience. Free locks available to borrow, bike literature and a video screen to watch, and loads of lycra clad cyclists. Angela D said that every Clarion ride should have a coffee stop like Stan’s!


Wendy T, Angela D, Tessa and Prudence enjoying drinks and Cake !

We arrived at Henfield which was having a garden Open Day. On the way to the Plough, our lunch stop, we heard music coming from a garden close to a church. Prudence and Wendy stopped to explore and on joining us at the Plough reported that it was a lovely garden with craft stalls as well.

Everyone’s lunch was delicious and beautifully presented. Angela D told the waitress on the way out that is was the best Clarion lunch of all time!

We retraced our steps to the Downslink pausing to check out the garden. The music was over, the crafts mediocre but the garden was beautiful.


On to Shoreham, stopping to look at St Botolph’s Church. Arriving in Shoreham Wendy stopped for tea and cake, the rest of us dashed for a train which we missed. Rather than wait 30 minutes, we decided to cycle home, it was a lovely evening with no strong headwind.

We dispersed at Hove Lagoon after thanking Graham for planning a delightful day in the saddle.




The Last Ride: Sunday 27 May 2018 – Christ’s Hospital to Pulborough

30 May 2018

Downs Link

After a hot train journey we set off on the Downs Link, which was pleasantly cool under the foliage. We were 4: Jim, Graham, Wendy and I. We passed an ancient aeroplane, wrapped in plastic and shortly afterwards a sign “low flying aeroplanes” and a field which was used as a runway. We could only surmise that the aforementioned plane had missed it!

Aeroplane wrapped in plastic

Later we passed another sign: “low flying owls” ! How bizarre.

A brief detour from the Downs Link provided a delicious ice cream and we were invited into Slinfold Church only to behold the sight of a family eating loads of doughnuts. Odd.

Double bridge

The waterways were of particular interest on this ride: we marvelled at the famous “double bridge” over the river Arun, which features in the Downs Link logo. After a pleasant lunchtime at the Mucky Duck (with a clock that goes backwards) we came across another waterway wonder: Drungewick Aquaduct, where the canal actually goes over the. River Lox. Pretty spectacular.

Double Bridge info board

Things got more normal after that, apart from seeing a sign “Holiday Home for Hens” outside a farm ????

We heard a cuckoo and spotted two buzzards too.

It was mighty hot on the ride but intrepid souls that we are we managed and had a really lovely ride.

Many thanks Jim for leading this very enjoyable ride.


Low Flying Aeroplanes notice

The Last Ride: 13 May 2018: Ford to Littlehampton (with added Yapton)

15 May 2018

This was a ride with a difference. The difference was that the lovely Binsted Wood, which we rode through on a nice quiet lane, is under threat from a road-building scheme which is poised to cut a huge, noisy, polluting swathe through the wood and cut it off from the nearby village. This despite an alternative, much simpler, and no doubt cheaper, option which merely bypasses the famous A27 bottleneck at Arundel station and avoids the wood altogether. Our leader, Angela D, handed out leaflets from the Save Binsted Wood campaign to every cyclist we met, and implored them to sign the petition and write to their MP. Please take the time to look at the website and support this campaign. There is a map showing the various options here.

Binsted Lane

Binsted Lane – by Jim

Angela led Angela C, Graham, Marilyn, Sikka, Wendy and me around a 15-mile route, painstakingly devised by her and Wendy, which featured two churches, a prison, and an aeroplane on a stick. We welcomed Graham on his first Clarion ride; he had found us via our excellent website, hand-crafted by our own Fred Pipes.


The Madonna Pond – by Wendy

We visited the Madonna Pond, and heard the fascinating story of local artist Lorna Wishart. We reached Climping via a delightful byway across a cornfield, but the proposed sea-bathing option was shelved due to the failure of the Met Office to deliver warm weather. The lunch menu, at the Black Horse in Climping, was uncharacteristically restricted, with almost nothing for veggies or vegans; I opted for cheesy chips, while Wendy’s chips were cheese-free, but only after rejecting a duplicate portion of the cheesy variety that had been produced by the chaotic food ordering system. However, any shortcomings in the lunch department were more than made up for by a truly excellent coffee stop at Edgcumbes in Ford Lane, with exotic drinks and delicious snacks all round.


Crossing the field – by Wendy

Reaching the River Arun at Littlehampton, Sikka and Graham decided to ride further east, while the remaining five of us rode down to the West Beach Café for ice cream, and a quick look at the old fort, whose defences have been rendered somewhat useless by the towering sand dunes that have built up in front of it. On the train back, we were entertained by a busker, and thanked Angela and Wendy for a memorable ride.



Wendy scampering up the dunes

Wendy scampering up the dunes – by Jim

The Last Ride: Sunday 29 April 2018 – Emsworth to Fishbourne

30 April 2018

Pigs at Funtington

Jim met up with Sikka and Julia at Brighton Station, more riders had planned to be there but several fell by the wayside with sickness and tiredness! It was unexpectedly cold as we set off from Emsworth Station. We passed by a pig farm with fields of healthy looking pigs, and rode on through beautiful quiet lanes and the pretty villages of Westbourne, Southbourne and Funtington.

Notice in Watery Lane

Here was the delight of Watery Lane, where a clear, fast moving stream attracted Mallard ducks and Sikka discovered a mother with eight tiny fluffy ducklings.

Black swan at West Ashling

Then, at West Ashling pond, Julia provided Nairn’s oatcakes to feed a lone black swan and unidentified mottled ducks. Also, Jim was delighted to identify several black and white tufted ducks proving that Julian’s suggestion, from the last sighting, was correct.

Geese at West Ashling

A group of ‘honking’ geese sent us on our way and we continued on to Bosham and the Anchor Bleu pub for lunch. Fortunately, Jim had booked a table and it was a lovely surprise to sit upstairs looking out of a picture window onto the Bosham channel. We all enjoyed the good food and pleasant service.

After lunch we were able to cycle around the edge of the quay towards Fishbourne. The road was still very wet and slippery with clumps of seaweed in the wake of the outgoing tide, a novel experience!

Sikka and Julia on a wet road at Bosham

We stopped for afternoon tea at Fishbourne and then sped on to Chichester feeling happy and satisfied by a wonderful day out… thanks to Jim!

Sikka & Julia

Amphibious vehicles only!

The Last Ride. Jim’s Report

17 April 2018

15 April 2018: Hove to Shoreham

On the path

On their last ride, Sikka and Tessa introduced a revolutionary idea – having the lunch at the end of the ride rather than the middle. Not content to rest on their laurels, for this ride they pushed the boundaries even further by having the coffee stop at the beginning – at Tessa’s house, in fact, where Angela D, Marilyn, Prudence, Sikka, Wendy and I were served our chosen tipples by our attentive hostess. This was actually the first of two coffee “stops”, the second one being at Saddlescombe Farm, where we enjoyed either second breakfast or (in Wendy’s case) what looked more like first lunch; for David, a fruity ice lolly; for the rest, various teas, coffees, scones and cakes. Later we had our proper lunch stop, of course, at the Kings Head at Upper Beeding, where Wendy had her second lunch and everyone else their first. Unfortunately, plans for a proposed third lunch, or third coffee stop, or afternoon tea, at Shoreham Airport were shelved in order for us to fully appreciate the new extension of the Downs Link path right down to the Ropetackle centre in Shoreham.

David and lolly

In between the eating and drinking, there was actually a bit of bike riding. We cycled through Hove Park to the Engineerium (scandalously, still closed), then, skirting Hangleton, we arrived at the footbridge over the A27 where, after a few minutes’ rest, David caught up with us, having cycled from Shoreham. At the top of the path we joined the road, then down to Saddlescombe for the aforementioned breakfast/coffee/lunch, then whizzing on down to Poynings (this ride did appear to have more “downs” than “ups”, somehow) and Fulking, stopping to admire the two antique drinking fountains on the way.

Along the road towards Edburton, with the glorious backdrop of the Downs to our left, the ride leaders came across a horse in a field struggling to get up. Prudence knocked a couple of doors and found the owner, who explained that the horse was 27 years old and suffered from arthritis, but thanked her for telling him. Further along, we came across another horse with its head poking out through a seemingly purpose-built dip in the wall. Unfortunately we had nothing to feed it with. Behind, a tiny pony stood in the yard.


After a scary mile or so of the A2037 round Windmill Hill, we came at last to Upper Beeding and the aforementioned lunch stop. Obligingly, the forecast rain arrived just as we got inside; disappointingly, however, it refused to yield on our emergence an hour later. But it did eventually let up and we saw the sun again, whilst riding southwards along the Downs Link.

Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for a very enjoyable ride and for arranging the weather so neatly.


Devil's Dyke from the viewpoint above Poynings


The Last Ride: Shoreham to Worthing: The Breaking of the Fellowship

3 April 2018

Photos on Flickr

Having ridden from Brighton to Shoreham as anything between 16 and 20 riders (we were never near enough to the same place at any one time to count!) our strung-out cat-herd finally split up into two factions: the “Remainers” and the “Leavers”. The Leavers … well, they left. That left the Remainers (Angela, Angela, Chris, David, Mark, Prudence, Richard, Wendy and myself) to remain, and enjoy a coffee (and, in Angela D’s case, a second breakfast) at one of the few cafes that was actually open. Before she followed her comrades over the bridge, Helen (whose Easter benevolence has already been noted on a previous ride) kindly gave each of us a small chocolate egg.

On the Adur Ferry Bridge

Once refreshed, we followed the Leavers over the footbridge to Shoreham Beach, where we met Anne on her way back. We turned right into Riverside Road and basically continued along the seafront from there on. Eventually the road leads you onto a shared footpath and cycle path, which we shared with a number of dogs and their (slightly less numerous) owners. I’ve noticed that as you travel along the coast from Saltdean to Worthing, the Rampion Wind Farm appears to move with you – an optical illusion which I think is caused by it being a lot further away than you think (it’s actually over 13 kilometres from the coast, which is greater than the distance from Brighton to Shoreham). Apparently, although the 116 turbines are currently being tested and commissioned, the wind farm has already started supplying power to the grid. I sincerely hope that the City of Chichester, a huge dredger that we saw in Shoreham Harbour by the locks, does not accidentally dredge up the undersea power cables linking the turbines to the grid!

City of Chichester (2)

Wendy and I regretted that it had not been possible for us to join the Easter Meet ride from Southend to Foulness Island, which was happening simultaneously with our ride, as numbers were strictly limited, and one had to sign up for it after arrival in Southend, which is a long way to travel if you’re not even sure you’ll get a place. Perhaps next time …

Coast cafe

David had been somewhat vague on the subject of a lunch stop. When we got to the Coast café on Worthing seafront, he went in to reconnoitre and pronounced it a suitable place for us to refresh ourselves. The café has grown by a factor of about 4 since I last visited it, and has a very pleasant atmosphere and plenty of dishes to choose from. Most opted for soup; I had the veggie mezze and a bottle of pale ale. All very nice. As we sat in the café by the window we saw the Leavers, obviously regretting their decision, coming back. We banged on the window; Tessa seemed to hear us, but in the end she did not stop. Had they done so, we would have welcomed them with open arms and given them their maroon passports back.

I left at this point to visit my daughter, the other 8 turning eastwards for home. Thanks to David for a nice easy hill-less Easter ride, and congratulations on such a bumper turnout!

There were no April Fool jokes.


This ride became rather confusing and fragmented as the day progressed, to say the least. I am assembling only my impression, not exactly an accurate account of the entire ride.

I think there were about fifteen riders at the start by the Palace Pier. Shortly after riding the network 2 cycleway westward toward Shoreham, We were joined by one more, followed by four more before reaching the Hove Lagoon.

We were by now a large group that was difficult to manage as some fell off the back and one sped off at the front. I’m not sure of the details.

On arriving at the Place in Shoreham near the footbridge we were greeted by Mick with a grin a mile wide, he told us that he’d been in a café waiting for us slow-coaches to arrive. At this point the group became split, our sub-group wanted to continue straight-on to Worthing, while the other stayed to enjoy something in a Shoreham café. We didn’t see them again.

Now we were on to the cycleway to Worthing and experiencing heavy footfall in the form of ambulating families, children and dogs running aimlessly among the casually strolling adults. It became extremely frustrating for some of our group of eight to a point that at least one wanted to call it a day and quit the ride. None the less we all continued to Worthing safely. At Worthing we found eight seats in the Pier-head restaurant and all enjoyed good food and pleasant conversation.

Riding back to Brighton with a tailwind was great. Just after going over the lock gates at the harbour I spotted John Clinton, cycling head-down into the wind, toward Carats café. I called out to him and again our group became split as Joyce, John and Leon rode back to Carats for a coffee and a chat. John has not been able to ride for a few weeks due to a fall and subsequent injury to his left knee.

Finally on our return home we find out total mileage to be 28 miles, but that was home to home.

Overall this for me, and I hope others it turned out to be a lovely day out cycling.

Thanks to David for offering to organise and lead it.


The Last Ride: Report

7 March 2018

No report on the 4th March: the ride was cancelled because of bad weather.