The Last Ride: Sunday 24 January 2016 – Berwick to Eastbourne

25 January 2016

Clarion Towner Gallery 24 January

Mick and Sikka took the train from Brighton to Berwick and arrived to find Jenny already there as she had cycled from Lewes to get in a few extra miles.  The morning air was damp and mild with no expectation of rain.   As there were just the three of us and only 17 miles to Eastbourne, we decided to cancel the lunch booking and go straight there, the route being almost entirely flat.

We circled round Arlington Reservoir on wet roads, occasionally encountering large puddles and one minor flood where Mick, our leader, ventured across first, finding a shallow route for us through the middle.  Bravo Mick!

The Downs were shrouded in mist, lending a mysterious, almost secretive atmosphere to our journey. We cycled round Abbott’s Wood on quiet roads and joined the Cuckoo Trail at Hailsham. We could have stopped at the tea rooms for coffee but decided to push on, keeping to the Sustrans route from Polegate to Eastbourne Seafront. We had to join the seafront road soon after that as the promenade is limited to pedestrians.

Arriving at the Towner Gallery, we made a beeline for the café and enjoyed a snack lunch before visiting the two free exhibitions. These included some modern art and sub-titled films as well as pictures on loan from a gallery in Aberdeen. Many paintings were by Sussex artists, among them Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell of Charleston fame.

To complete the delights of the day we repaired once more to the café for tea and cake, leaving just in time for the 3.26 train back to Brighton.

This was a perfect day for cycling and we had a thoroughly enjoyable and varied outing. Thank you Mick (and Anne for participating in the recce).


The Next Ride: Sunday 24 January 2016 – The Towner Gallery at Eastbourne

12 January 2016

Being inspired by Fred’s gallery visits & perturbed by the winter weather, I hope to combine a short ride with a bonus 4 exhibition gallery visit to The Towner Gallery at Eastbourne, which, on the 24th appears to have its maximum exhibitions on simultaneously. The Ravilious Room closes on the 26th & on 23rd a new touring exhibition opens; Art From Elsewhere;

So I propose that we take the 10.12 from Brighton & alight at Berwick, if the weather is at all clement, but buy a return to ticket to Eastbourne. From Berwick we follow the NCN2 to Abbots Wood & head North to Hailsham, turning right by Michelham Priory, then hook up with the Cuckoo Trail at Hailsham heading south to Polegate, possibly having lunch at the Tea-rooms en route. We then follow the NCN2 again eastward until the furthest fringe of suburban Eastbourne & take the NCN21 through nature trails to the coast, along the sea-front to The Towner Gallery, where there is a tearoom on the top floor with fine views from the balcony, should we wish to look back & contemplate our journey through the woods & Downs of East Sussex.

If weather is nasty we can shorten to alighting at Polegate, for a quick downhill to the gallery.

Distance = 17 miles from Berwick; approx 7 miles from Polegate.

Terrain    = Mainly NCN routes on roads or paths.

Trains     = 10.12 from Brighton. Return trains every half hour.14.59, 15.26, 15.59, 16.26 taking 40mins.


The Last Ride: Sunday 19th October – 8 [mostly] Brighton Bikers Breeze into Bexhill- 6 Battle Boldly Back!

23 October 2014

BBC weather had forecast heavy rain & 20mph [W] winds for the ride on Saturday night, hence, slept badly & awoke to rain & pass from Mick to be released from the ride, even though I’d already bought the rail tickets. However, rain stopped, we changed out of wet gear & set out, armed still with paniers full of dry clothes [just in case]. Glad to see Joyce & Leon were buying tickets at the station, David was already on the platform & Nick joined us on the train with a coffee & a couple of minutes to spare. Interesting train talk of gut flora & tropical worm diseases. Soon arrived at Eastbourne station to be joined by Chris & Sue from Lewes Against the Cuts, whom we hadn’t seen since our Xmas Party 2 years ago. Nick takes the group photo & we set out for the sea-front.

October 19, 2014: Eastbourne to Bexhill

Our leader claimed the prom which looks like it should be a bike track, but pedestrians soon “explained” that it was not, so some of us went back to the traffic on the road & some of us blithely continued, until we all met up again at the official start to the NCN21 along the prom beside the seaside, beside by the sea… & very pleasant it was too.

Had to then head North through newish housing estates with Caribbean connections {names] to roadside route to Pevensey. NCN21 signage petered out but we continued through caravan parks & private road, crossing unmanned level crossing carefully & sailed successfully into Bexhill, with the benefit of the 20mph West wind.
David & I sat in the sunshine on the balcony at the de la Warr Pavilion, while 6 took a table in the restaurant. As I repositioned myself & my spiced chai out of the strong wind, a pigeon took advantage of my turned back & swiped my bread off the soup plate & onto the floor – perils of outside eating

October 19, 2014: Eastbourne to Bexhill

Mushroom & watercress soup was excellent though & waiter soon brought me replacement bread. Everyone was well pleased with their fare & we now had half an hour to view the exhibitions. Upstairs is/was sonic installation on Blackbird Song – called Blackbird Quadralogue & downstairs was Magnum Selections from their vast archives, by various curators – called One Archive, 3 Views. A splendid collection of books was available to browse too & videos of both the Magnum Curation & of the Blackbird Quadraphonic sound installation by Ron Geesin [orchestrator of Pink Floyd’s 1970 album-among many other things].

October 19, 2014: Eastbourne to Bexhill

I’m now looking anxious at the prospect of the 20mph headwind we have to tackle for the return 13 miles. Joyce & Leon had decided to take the train back as Joyce has been ill & Leon only had his little wheels [folding bike]. The 20mph wind seemed to make a 10mph difference in our cycling speed, but conditions not too testing & managed to keep together fairly well & support each other in Clarion style. We spread out a bit once reaching the long Rickney Lane especially as Nick & I were lured into photography by the cuddly bullocks, horizontal swaying grasses & vast views on the flatlands of the Pevensey Levels.


As the train from Bexhill passed us I waved a purple arm to Joyce & Leon & was reminded of the Harold Mockford painting in Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery.

We now stuck to the NCN 2 which was pretty well signed to the Cuckoo Trail, which we eventually reached, for a much needed refreshment stop at The Loom.  From their huge array of teas I chose liquorice-good choice-Mick & David went for the special offer of free tea with the toffee cake, no-one took the super coffee cake, Sue had a tasty flapjack & I had a prized chocolate-coated pecan concoction. Discussing the capitalist economic crisis made us almost late for the train, necessitating a dash for the station before the level crossing gates closed, though just enough time to snap autumn berries & Sustrans signs.


There was a bit of a crush at Polegate station, with at least 9 bikes to load onto the train, but, fortunately, due to works on the line, Ashford line’s 2 coaches had been replaced by a 4 carriage service from Eastbourne & we were all accommodated with plenty of room remaining & plenty more conversations enjoyed with fellow passengers on cycling & CCC & with Lewes comrades on Green vs Labour for General Election 2015.

Thanks to Mick for leading us through the lovely routes, first planned by Roger, who was unable to do the job on that day. The homeward leg was somewhat challenging for some of us but the faster three did allow the following three some refreshing photography pauses & we did manage to do the miles & the tea stop & still catch the 4.42 train – 25 miles, no rain & no punctures, but plenty of fellowship & fun. [food & culture too!]


The Last Ride: Sunday 19 February 2012 – Hastings to Eastbourne

21 February 2012

Joyce was first to arrive at Brighton station for the earlier of Jim’s suggested trains to Hastings, quickly followed by Sue, Tessa, Roger and Suzanne who shared a Groupsave.

There was some confusion as to which part of the train went all the way, and Roger and Suzanne had to dismount at Eastbourne as their carriage was not continuing to Hastings.
We all, including Sean, who had joined at Lewes met up at Hastings station to wait for Jim who was the only one to take the later train.

At Hastings Station

A beautiful crisp day with a manageable north-westerly wind greeted us as we reached Hastings seafront. We stopped at Glyne Gap, a river, that by the time it reached the sea, had become a canal, an area host to many seabirds.

Sculptural metal cutouts stood at the edge of the cycletrack, one we recognised as Spike Milligan, maybe he had a link with the area?

Spike Milligan and Friends

Still on a cycle path, we continued past Galley Hill, the site of a Martello tower, on to Bexhill past some lovely seafront houses that had the feel of large comfortable beachhuts with panoramic windows. Sue was impressed enough to note down an estate agent’s number.

How Far To Los Angeles

The 1930’s De La Warr building prompted some idle puns:
‘De La Warr, what is it good for?’ and ‘De La Warr – hol’.

De La Warr - What Is It Good For

We were on the look out for John, who was cycling from Brighton to meet us en route. Vigilant Joyce spotted someone sitting on a bench with a bike and a black skullcap (like John’s) ‘How long have you been here?’ she asked the bemused stranger.

Coming out of Bexhill we lost Roger and Suzanne who had taken the high road while we continued on the cycle track, busy with pedestrians and dogs. We met up again at Cooden Beach where we headed inland and rode a parallel road to Norman’s Bay to our lunch stop, The Star. Two Johns joined us, one to eat and continue the ride with us, the other, a friend of Jim’s just for a drink.


Lunch was a staggered affair, dishes arriving in stages, but much appreciated when they did appear. Conversation was lively as usual, kicked off by the current debate about prayers before council meetings.

Pevensey Castle and Train

The road to Pevensey ran alongside the coast, but below sea level. Then it was Sovereign Harbour, finally Eastbourne where we had time for a cup of tea/ coffee/ hot chocolate and in some cases, cake in a delightful, friendly café.

We all boarded the train, John deciding to join us rather than cycle back to Brighton in a headwind. We separated into different carriages, our group enjoyed the journey home, appreciating the lengthening evenings.

Thank you Jim for a great day out.


[More photos on Flickr]

The next ride: 19 February – Hastings to Eastbourne

7 February 2012

St Leonards – Bexhill – Cooden Beach – Normans Bay – Pevensey Bay

Ian tells me there is a half-marathon on in Brighton on this day and some roads will be closed, so do check whether you will be able to get to the station. It finishes at 10 am, but there may be some ongoing congestion.

Much of this ride will be familiar to some of us, although I am not sure that we have done it all in one go. It will mean that, together with previous rides from Rye to Lydd and Hastings, and our frequent forays to Normans Bay, we will have explored the Sussex coast all the way from Brighton to the Kent border. One bit we won’t have done before is the section of NCN2 between St Leonards and Bexhill, which is so new that the information display boards at Galley Hill don’t have any information in them yet!

It’s a simple linear ride along the coast – let’s hope the wind is behind us. We’ll have lunch at a familiar haunt, the Star at Normans Bay. If it’s cold we may also need a morning coffee stop, and we can have that in Bexhill. Afternoon tea may be taken in Eastbourne if desired. The approach to Eastbourne will take us along part of NCN21, so this could be thought of as part 2¾ of the Route 21 Trilogy, although some of us did the Eastbourne–Polegate section during the 2010 Easter Meet.

Length: About 18 miles.

Duration: About 4–5 hours.

Terrain: Mostly cycle paths; some quiet lanes, and a short section of A259 at Pevensey Bay. Mostly flat. At one point we briefly run out of prom and will have to push bikes along the shingle beach.

Getting there: Meet at Hastings Station at 11.30; take the 10.04 or 10.20 train from Brighton. (The 10.04 is an extra train which originates at London Victoria at 8.47, and has been diverted via Brighton. Londoners should bring War and Peace to read on the train. Note that the Charing Cross to Hastings line is also disrupted so There Is No Alternative.)

Getting home: Trains leave Eastbourne for Brighton at 5 and 40 minutes past each hour. The 40 minutes past continues to London Victoria.

Lunch: I have booked a table at the pub for 1.30. They ask for a deposit if there are more than 10 people, so do tell me whether you are coming: