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.


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.


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.


The Next Ride: Sunday 8th May 2022

2 May 2022

Shoreham to Knepp Wildland (26 miles for the round trip)

Catch the 9.30am train from Brighton to Shoreham (9.46 arrival in Shoreham)

Downs Link to Bramber/Either A283 or through Steyning to B2135 towards Partridge Green/Left at Ashurst west towards Tates Old Barn Garden Centre ( lunch?)/ CROSS A24/Dial Post and Knepp Car Park and walk routes.

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.


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.


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.


*The three sisters never made it to Moscow.

The Next Ride Sunday 24th April

18 April 2022

Three Bridges to Haywards Heath via Pease Pottage

This was supposed to be a repeat of a Three Bridges to Wivelsfield ride we did in 2019; but the authorities had other ideas. As Stairbridge Lane is closed for road works until the end of May, we will not venture south of the B2115 but instead re-trace, in reverse, part of the Haywards Heath circular ride we did last December (NOT the muddy bit!), via Cuckfield and then Blunts Wood and Paiges Meadow Nature Reserve.

I am hoping that Tilgate Forest will be awash with bluebells, but even if it isn’t, this should hopefully be an enjoyable ride. Grouse Road is three miles of quiet, mostly gently downhill farms and woodland, with just a few disgustingly opulent mansions thrown in. Hammerpond Road, and its associated hammer pond … well, being a pond, it’s in a valley, and valleys can have steep sides (but we can walk up). We will briefly visit Slaugham before arriving at the lunch venue, the Jolly Tanners at Staplefield.

The original route of the ride then takes us southwards and over the infant River Ouse, then into tiny Mallion’s Lane, which might be made for cycling on, although it does have its ups and downs. We then aim for Cuckfield along a B road that is busier than we’d like, though the traffic did not deter the woodpecker I heard here on the practice ride; there is also the possibility of a tea stop at Cuckfield Golf Centre. We finish off with another visit to the nature reserve before tackling the slightly-less-fashionable suburbs of Haywards Heath.

Length: 18.5 miles

Undulations: a few.

Start at: Three Bridges station, subway, by the cafes, at 10:30.

Train from Brighton: 10:02 London Bridge train. Get a return to Three Bridges.


The Next Ride Sunday 10th April

4 April 2022

BERWICK to BEXHILL – 10th April, returning by train

Meet at Brighton Station to purchase a day return ticket to Bexhill. We’ll catch the 10.05 train and alight at Berwick. We’ll follow the Sustrans NCR 2 round the back of Arlington reservoir, cycle through Abbotts wood and across the Pevensey Levels. Abbotts Wood is off-Road with a relatively good surface but the possibility of a little mud if the weather has been wet. Then on through Coulsden to arrive on the promenade in Bexhill.

We can stop at Chillie Farm for coffee. Lunch stop at the Star Inn at Normans Bay. Please let Sikka know if you wish me to book lunch for you inside the pub. Tel 07787402229.

We will continue as far as Bexhill where you might wish to visit the De La Ware Pavilion. Or not. Plenty of cafes along the sea front.

Trains back from Bexhill station, direct at 0.10 mins past the hour, 0.30 trains change at Eastbourne.

We hope to see you.

Sikka and Doris

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.


The Next Ride 13th March 2022

7 March 2022

Haywards Heath to Wivelsfield via Chailey

Sunday 13 th March 2022

This little ride came about in consideration of the short days and (possibly) inclement weather at this time of year. It is actually a combination of the first bit of the Haywards Heath to Lewes ride (September 2019) and the last bit of Balcombe to Wivelsfield (September 2015 and January 2019). The join is at Freshfield Crossways.
We’ll enjoy again the delightful little urban bridleway that takes us out of central Haywards Heath. At Walstead we embark on a network of those little country lanes that are a feature of rural Sussex, and popular with cyclists; there are some ups and downs, as we criss-cross the Ouse valley and later ascend to Chailey.
Owing to the dearth of affordable pubs in this area, the lunch stop will be near the end (at the Cock, in fact, a frequent Clarion lunch venue), so it will be an early-to-rise and early-to- bed affair. We probably won’t venture across Chailey Common (as it’s very muddy and uneven) but may catch a glimpse of the ponies. The windmill will not be open yet but we could go and look at it if we want.
On the way to Wivelsfield Green, there is a small chance of once again encountering the farm-cum-café-cum-model-railway exhibition, with the swing, the story of which I have occasionally bored people with over the years. Apparently it is at Oakwood Farm. But it can’t be a tea stop, because we won’t have had lunch yet!
Distance: 15 miles
Start at: 10:00 am at Haywards Heath station (Boltro Road exit). When alighting from the train on platform 3 or 4, walk back the way you have come and take the lift to the bridge, then turn left and get the lift down to the exit.
Recommended train: 9.29 London Bridge train from Brighton.
Do not wait on the concourse – get straight on the train and make for the bike store
carriage at the front.
Finish at: Wivelsfield station.

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 Next Ride: Sunday 6 February 2022

3 February 2022

Burgess Hill to Hassocks:

We leave Burgess Hill by means of a quiet residential road (the sort where people learn to drive on a Sunday morning, so we can remind them about the new Highway Code) and then a very nice bridleway. At Hope Farm, we once again encounter the East Adur, but as a much younger river, only a few hundred metres from its source. Then a nice wooded path across DitchlingCommon (those who prefer hard surfaces can bypass this bit) and then we ride eastwards, on tarmac, to the Plough, between Chailey and Plumpton Green, for lunch. (It’s an old Clarion haunt: the pub with the memorial to the Polish airmen).

We then grapple with the strange geography of Sussex: East Chiltington is some 17 miles east of West Chiltington, but a mile west of Chiltington …. Anyway we’ll only be visiting the East bit on this ride, followed by Streat and Ditchling (more off-road, but good surfaces; at least two churches). On the way, we can get a glimpse of Chailey windmill (open to the public on Sunday afternoons – possible future ride?)

There are several possibilities for a late tea stop in Ditchling or Hassocks before boarding the train home, including the coffee-cum-bike shop (though it may not be open).

Contact me ( if you are interested as I may have to book the pub. The pub has a large garden, and also a covered outside area. Those preferring to bring their own lunch could probably sit outside with the rest of us if the weather allows.

Length: 11.5 miles

Terrain: Mostly quiet lanes and bridleways. Some avoidable mud. No hills!

Starts at Burgess Hill station (up side, platform-level exit) at 10:55am.

Train: 10:34 from Brighton to Redhill.

Getting back: trains from Hassocks to Brighton at 15 and 35 minutes past the hour.

Do not wait on Brighton station concourse – get straight on the train and head for the bike storage carriage at the front.