The Last Ride: Sunday 6 April 2014 – Burgess Hill and Borde Hill

8 April 2014

The weather forecasts were dire – “heavy rain” and the Brighton Marathon was to complicate travel to the station, but we’d already cancelled this ride once, so we proceeded early for the allotted 10.00am train. 

We managed the first crossing of London Rd section of marathon route successfully but then were held up for 20 minutes as thousands of runners, hemmed in by metal fencing, trooped along Jubilee St to New Road. The two stewards by the crossing point were sympathetic, but pointed out that the runners had been training for months for this & we were unlikely to  be able to catch that train! Fortunately one mentioned a gap & Mick & I shot across, raced to ticket office, where Mick again told of our plight to the lady in front of us & was allowed passage. We both ran to platform 4 & joined the right train with only seconds to spare. 

Sue had also had problems. She had to race along with the runners & her bike in order to cross the lines!  

5 Clarionettes alighted ahead of us on the train & were surprised to see us! A young man with wife & baby volunteered to take the group photo at the station as we debated how much wet gear to put on before the start.


We trailed through suburban Burgess Hill until we hit Gatehouse Lane & relaxed at the lack of traffic, the joy of birdsong & spring blossom. As we headed north the lanes began to undulate. There was some dismounting, brief explorations of the surrounding woods with a chance to pick some wild garlic for tea & opportunities for David to practice falling off his bike onto soft grass, as he was trying out new pedals, shoes & cleats. We passed a pony & rider & then, on an uphill section, pony & rider passed us at barely a trot. A few more roads & few more undulations [or, it has to be admitted, climbs] & we were north of Cuckfield without rain & warm from the exercise.


Once in the grounds of Borde Hill Gardens we had superb views of surrounding countryside, even a few early, pink rhodedendrons & I spotted a dodo inside the grounds near the ruined house.


Food at the Elvira Cafe was enjoyed by all. There were cakes [pear & almond & lemon polenta] & ale [Harvey’s Prince of Denmark], I had spinach soup, Mick had rabbit, Leon & Joyce had quiches, David & Julian had fishcake [1 each] & Sue had a super kids roast.


Although most of us had thought we would make an early exit at Haywards Heath station due to being soaking wet, it turned out dull but dryish, so 5 of us decided to return to Burgess Hill, having been warned off Wivelsfield by Jim & Sue, who remembered it had a difficult flight of steps to platform. Joyce & Leon kept to the plan of returning from Haywards Heath & we bade them goodbye near Lindfield, continued through that pretty village & enjoyed Slugwash Lane. Even before reaching Slugwash Lane, Sue & I were lucky enough to see a weasel run in front of Sue & dart across the road with a vole in its mouth. No pics unfortunately, but shared joy.


Due to a misunderstanding between Mick (who had planned to turn right at the bottom of Slugwash Lane) & Leon (who suggested a left turn) we took a wrong turn  & ended up with Sue standing underneath a sign that said “Burgess Hill”, me saying we should turn right & Mick [our leader], maintaining that we turn left. Julian & I were disappointed that we couldn’t just catch a train now, partly as he feared that he had lost his i-phone whilst cycling in the morning & had a dinner engagement in the evening back up near where we were But we all followed our leader who didn’t stop until it was quite obvious that we were almost into Ditchling!


Sue gallantly pointed out that it was now only a short ride to Hassocks station but us moaners suspected that there would be a long wait at Hassocks.

In the centre of Ditchling, Mick left us as he wanted to cycle home as more miles needed for training for a Friday Night Ride to the Coast Ride in 2 weeks time.The remaining 4 of us arrived at the station only to see an 8 carriage train pulling out on its way to Brighton! Assembled on the platform we puzzled over the digital display which said that next Brighton train would be in 1 minutes time! Had it left early? If so we were in for a half an hour’s wait. No, another train pulled up, so previous mirage must have been late, unless trains were now running every few minutes to Brighton to cater for Marathon traffic. We gratefully piled on the train.

 All agreed that All’s Well that Ends Well &, fortunately, Julian even found that his phone, was, in fact, safely waiting for him at home. Mick still managed to arrive home before me, after cycling up Ditchling Beacon. All agreed we’d had another grand day cycling with the Clarion.

More pics on Flickr.


The Last Ride: Sunday 9 February 2014 Hassocks – Plumpton – Hassocks

11 February 2014

Minor crisis at the station: – realised I had left my pannier on the steps in front of my door… Oh well! The sun was shining so on to the train. No other Clarionet on the train but our leader Leon and Julian were there waiting at Hassocks. We waited for a bit longer, and just as we were about to go David, who was waiting at the other station entrance, phoned – then we were four…

Brighton & Hove Clarion cycle ride 09-02-2014

Off we cycled into, given recent weather, an unbelievably sunny bright morning. Yes there was a wind but it was behind us, so the ride to the restaurant was idyllic. That bright light, the roads smooth and remarkably dry, through Keymer, Ditchling, down the lovely long sweep of Spatham Lane and finally up the only real hill to the Half Moon. Whether it was the sun – or maybe it was “Be kind to cyclists” day or something, but we were surprised by at least two motorists who slowed down and waited patiently for us to pass on the way.

By now full of the joys of (nearly) Spring and feeling that we should celebrate the Clarion’s ten years (not certain it was the 9th but this was the first ride in the anniversary month), we tucked into delicious meals :- Roast dinner with Falafel for Leon, Sea Bass for David, which he said was excellent, Cod, Chips and Mushy peas for Julian and Wild Mushroom and Spinach Tagliatelle for me – all delicious.

1 ½ hours passed eating and in wide-ranging discussion, which went from nature walks, where Red Kites are to be found, to the intricacies of the situation in Thailand, clarified for us by David who had just spent time there and who knows past and present history very well. It was enlightening to hear how limited and locked within a particular world view media comment on the present situation is and how even reporters based on the ground have a limited understanding of the situation.

But finally we had to leave the Half Moon, by now it was cloudier and this time we had the wind (which had got stronger) in our faces. Happily it was only 4 miles to the station. The others valiantly faced the wind, and the fact that this first part had the only hills. For me the combination of a heavier, albeit delicious meal than I usually have on rides, the now very heavy gusts and legs aching through lack of practice meant that, grateful for their patience, I walked up most of the “inclines”. But, it did not last long – we turned into a lane more protected from the wind and were soon enjoying our final treat to finish the day: coffee and goodies at Costa’s in Hassocks. There too we spent much time on putting the world to rights – or bemoaning that it was not to rights, before heading home.

The fates or luck had favoured us, giving us a rare sunny morning and, other than a very fleeting show of hail, a day with no rain – (Arriving home, as I put my key in the door – the rain started – what timing ! – ( and by the way my pannier was still there…)

Thanks to Leon for his optimism in disregarding the weather forecasts and for giving us a great ride.


The Next Ride: Sunday 24 February – Hassocks to Lewes

11 February 2013

This is a longer morning ride stopping for a coffee break before continuing to a late lunch in Lewes, after which we will catch a train home (those who wish to do more cycling may wish to ride back to Brighton of course). Distance is approximately 16 miles. Gently undulating with long flat sections. (A repeat of the ride on 8th January 2012).

From Hassocks station we cycle East through Ditchling, turning left down Spatham Lane. Right at the junction a mile or so along then keep to this road following the signposts to Plumpton. Turn into the village as we turn right past The Plough Inn where there is a monument to airmen from one of the wars. Turning down through Plumpton Green to stop at The Fountain Inn for coffee (assuming we are not too early, as they open at 12 noon). The purpose of this stop is to break up the morning with a little rest and refreshment rather than doing the whole ride in one go.

Then, hopefully feeling well rested and raring to go, we turn left onto a concrete pathway. Although only a short stretch the surface is badly cracked so it could almost count as off road. When Tessa and I cycled through here on our practice ride, the weather had been very wet and there was quite a bit of water, but this is unusual. We then turn right and next left and follow quiet roads as far as Cooksbridge. There, to minimize our experience of the main road we turn left onto the A275 for 100 yards and after the railway crossing turn right, cycling along small roads in the direction of Barcombe. Bypassing Barcombe village and Hamsey we rejoin the A275. Here we have the option of cycling on the pavement for safety as far as the next junction. There, left and downhill with views across the valley. Turning down a twitten to join the footpath across the railway and around Pells Pool. Past Harvey’s brewery and up Cliffe High Street to eat at the John Harvey Tavern behind Bill’s.

(This pub serves food until 4.30 pm, giving us plenty of time for a longer morning ride. Please let Sue know on 07787402229 or 01273 697412 if you are coming and want to be included in numbers for lunch as she will book a table in advance.)

Trains: Brighton station 11.03 to Hassocks (arriving 11.13). This is a Southern train. There is an earlier First Capital Connect train at 10.45 if anyone wants to spread the numbers over 2 trains. (The trains do not stop at Preston Park station.) Buy a return ticket to Hassocks as this is honoured returning from Lewes as the fare is no greater from there.

From London Victoria there is a direct train to Hassocks at 9.32 arriving 10.44 available as a single at £5 if bought in advance (i.e. at least the day before). This is a Southern service train.

Returning from Lewes, trains on the hour and 22 and 44 minutes past from 15.00 until the 16.44 train.

SueP and Tessa