The Last Ride: Sunday 18 September 2016 – Lucky Thirteen Cycle to Littlehampton

21 September 2016

Shoreham Station

Saturday had been cold & dull with NE wind, but Sunday brought sunshine & thus a big turn-out for David’s ride from Shoreham to Littlehampton. For some of us it was a long ride – 30 miles there & back again, Mick found it not long enough so cycled from East Brighton & back home again, making 45 miles. Prudence cycled to Shoreham but took the train home from there with Tessa, me, & Sue, making her ride 35 miles approx.

The train out was full, with bike carriage loaded with Julian, Julia, Sue, Angela D. & the guard who told me to park in another coach. Tessa got on at Hove & joined my coach, along with a young woman with a huge case of luggage who was going to university in Wales for the new term & a mum & baby in a pushchair. In the rush & tumble of getting off at Shoreham, where the student had to get off, in order for our 2 bikes to get past the baby buggy, I realised, once the train had left, that I must have left my bike helmet on the train table. The guard at Shoreham made valiant attempts to intercept the missing helmet, phoning Worthing station & Lancing, but to no avail.

David, Mick, Prudence, Angela C. & Helen had made their various ways to the meeting point & we then set off, meeting Marilyn at Shoreham Beach. We progressed along the sea-front NCN2 route to Worthing, then on to The Bluebird Cafe at Ferring, which was very busy. Mick, Sue, & Tessa went in the sea for quick swim & some others queued up endlessly for their coffee & bit of cake. I was wary of the “outfall pipe” at the beach there, but David, who is a water engineer, assured me it was safe. However, there was a large group of contented seagulls enjoying the waters by the outfall, so I was not entirely convinced.

Beach at the Bluebird Cafe

We then wandered in & out of the private roads around the posh estates of Kingston Gore, Angmering & Rustington, admiring the large houses, mature trees & beautiful gardens & topiary. It involved lifting the bikes over several locked gates as the private estates were not welcoming cyclists. Thank you Mick & David for the heavy lifting.

Lunch was at the new harbour in a social enterprise cafe called Harbour Lights with good food & great views. A large group of swans with many brown adolescent cygnets lounged around & drank from a couple of buckets set out for them. You could see the water running down inside their long necks & we were lucky, after our lunch, to avoid the green, slimy deposits they left behind when they had taken to the water!

After lunch, Corinne & Julia decided they had had enough & decamped to Littlehampton Station for return train. Then there were 11. Think it was the same way back, but this time we stopped at the Sea Lane Cafe on the beach. By then there were less of us – fewer of us! Queues again & grand array of cakes & choccy tiffin. Julian decided he would go straight home from there & Angela D disappeared too.

So around 7 of us joined the queues for ice-creams, tea & cakes. Mick had a double chocolate & raspberry torte which was packed with calories, so he had to cycle all the way home to burn some of them off. Helen & Angela C. decided to cycle straight back to their transport at Shoreham too. Then there was 6 or 7, or 5!  All getting a bit tired by then & there were dark clouds & autumn returned after the morning’s Indian summer…

Marilyn stopped for a rest near home at Shoreham but gallant leader David, escorted us almost all the way back to the station & 4 of us caught the train, after a short wait of 7 minutes. This was enlivened by a seagull on the station’s corrugated roof who had in his beak … a pair of glasses! He was obviously delighted with his prize & I wished Fred had been with us to capture the moment for us all. If anyone has lost their specs recently they may be on the station roof!

At Brighton Station I asked again after my helmet & the security guard fetched a charming young woman Keeper of the Lost Property, who had no helmet but gave me a card with phone numbers to ring to report it.

I arrived home around 6.15 to find Mick had been back 45 minutes. Both tired after a very pleasant ride, with no hills, a new harbour & new restaurant – well worth revisiting. 13 is quite a large number to manage but no-one was lost & all enjoyed both the company & the cycling. Thank you David for leading us, shepherding us, reccying the ride with Terri’s help & “counting us out & counting us in” as in the classic Falklands War commentary. My maths is a bit wonky on the comings & goings but I believe we all had a marvellous day of sunshine, sea & fellowship, exercise, refreshments & chance to chat, socialise, swim & have a little adventure. Chat was varied as ever, with Brexit, Burma, Vietnam, Labour Party Leader Re-election & impending cycle restrictions on railway, on my list. The first on the list led me to happily recall Robb Johnson’s song on Brexit & since Ian asked previously for cycling songs, this was running round my head as the legs pedalled! “Turkeys voted Christmas,/Canaries voted cats,/Soldiers voted over the top/And the headless voted HATS!”


The Last Ride: 13 July 2014: Highdown Hill

15 July 2014


On the seafront, west of Worthing

Having nagged Roger to repeat his Highdown Hill ride ever since the last one, way back in September 2009, I was looking forward to this one; but as I set out it didn’t look as though it would be a very popular ride, due to the overcast skies and forecast of rain, quite apart from the mention of a h*** in the ride description. But twelve Clarionettes (Anne, Elaine, Graham, Jim, Julian, Marilyn, Mick, Richard, Roger, Sikka, Suzanne and Tessa) decided to brave the weather, and prove the Met Office wrong – which we did, as we enjoyed warm and sunny weather nearly all day, with just a little breeze and about five raindrops towards the very end.

My report of the previous ride reminds us that Highdown Hill is actually only 81 metres above sea level, and thus considerably less of a hill than, for instance, the Cuckoo trail, which rises through nearly twice that amount from end to end. As before, we approached it cunningly along its gentle northern slope, arriving in astonishment to panoramic views of Worthing, Shoreham, Brighton and even (some of the very clear-sighted among us claimed) Seaford Head.


Looking eastwards from the top of the hill

But first, there was the getting there. This ride started from Worthing, not Goring as last time, so we had a bit further to ride. As before we went through Ferring, over the Rife and alongside it, then inland to Angmering. At one point it was suggested that we should be re-named the Clarion Walking and Cycling Club, because it was impossible to ride through the long grass alongside the Rife. Only later did Roger admit that he’d missed a turning so that we had a lot more Rife than we should have had, ending up on the beach.


Ferring Rife, looking north towards Highdown Hill


Walking through the long grass

This was a picnic ride, with the picnic planned for after the ascent. But Roger had also mentioned a shop in Angmering village for anyone needing to buy food, and in the end we had our lunch on the village green here rather than waiting for the hill. We had crossed the A259 via a huge footbridge which had shallow steps (so no good for wheelchairs, as someone pointed out) with ramps at the side (so rather good for bikes).


At the top of the hill, some of us recalled that previous ride when we had seen a newborn calf. No such luck this time, but there was still the wonderful view. Then past the Miller’s Tomb (fully documented in my previous report) and into the garden, where the Miller’s somewhat premature building of his own coffin and tomb, together with the notice forbidding the scattering of cremated remains, lent a somewhat funereal aspect to the conversation.


After the garden, the café, which was still as delightful as I’d remembered it. Here, as we queued for tea and scones, bread pudding and other delicacies, we encountered an “off-duty” Clarionette, Annie Callaghan, who had come by train.

On the way back to Worthing station, we enacted an old Clarion ritual, the Puncture Repair. Mick had picked up a small, sharp chip of flint which had gone straight through his tyre. Luckily he had a spare tube, I had tyre levers, Richard had pliers, Tessa had a pump and Graham had experience. So most of the group sunbathed on the grass as the usual procedures – such as “forgetting which of two identical inner tubes is the good one”, and “trying to work out which bit of the chain goes round the gear wheels” – were followed. Meanwhile Julian explained how to tell a swift from a swallow by its flight behaviour, and I found a giant fungus that had come off a tree.


Finally Mick was on the road again and we sped on to the station, in time to just miss the Brighton train, Elaine and Graham having departed by car. There was a last minute drama at the station, as Julian’s chain came off and became firmly wedged between frame and cogs; even the pliers would not shift it, so he had to hobble home.

Thanks to Roger for a long-overdue repeat of this lovely ride.


The Next Ride: A Picnic on Highdown H***: Sunday 13 July 2014

3 July 2014

The aim of this short ride will be to have a picnic on Highdown Hill, an attractive piece of countryside just north of Worthing, owned by the National Trust.

We will start at Worthing Station and take a gentle westward spin along the almost interminable seafront.  Look out for a couple of new buildings along the way.  There is a modern block of luxury flats nearing completion just east of Heene Terrace.  Later we’ll pass an elegant new art deco style building, also flats, but smaller.

The seafront does eventually end, at Ferring.  We’ll go briefly off road here to cross Ferring Rife and rejoin the road at Kingston Lane.  Then we’ll cross the railway, followed by the traffic infested A259 (using a pedestrian bridge).

This brings us to Angmering where we’ll stop briefly.  There is a Co-op shop for anyone who needs to buy their picnic lunch.  Then we set off along Dapper’s Lane.  This is when we start the climb up to the Hill.  There are some slightly steep bits but generally speaking it’s reasonably gentle.

The last lap is a bridleway some of which most of us will probably walk.  It brings us out onto the top of the hill with wonderful views.  On a clear day you can see the cliffs at Seaford.  My reaction on arrival was to wonder how I’d made it with so little effort.

Other delights on the hill include the “miller’s tomb” which may or may not have been used in the 18th century to hide goods smuggled by John Olliver, who may or may not have been a miller.  Highdown Gardens can be visited for those interested in flora and fauna.  There is also a café for those who didn’t bring enough picnic.

Once we’ve sampled the delights we’ll make our way back to the station through some of Worthing’s spacious northern suburbs.



Worthing station (south side) at 10:30.

Getting there: 
Take the 10:00 train from Brighton (10:04 from Hove).

17 miles (12 before lunch)

Flat until Angmering, then a mainly gentle climb to the picnic spot.  After that it’s downhill all the way.

Mainly on-road. We’ll use a footpath to cross Ferring Rife and a bridleway and footpath to get on and off the hill – cycle or walk as you wish.

Bring a picnic or buy something in Angmering.  We’ll finish at the station but central Worthing is fairly close by for those who want tea before the train.

Getting home:
Trains to Hove and Brighton at 24, 42 (change at Hove) and 54 past the hour

My mobile:      
0789 985 1172.


The Next Ride: Sunday 4 March 2012 – A winter wander through Worthing

21 February 2012

This is the ride that was cancelled in early February because of the threat of snow, so it is short and hopefully sweet.

We will wander west from Worthing central station through quiet residential streets. Those who are interested in such things can admire the progressive changes in domestic architecture, which reveal the development of the town over the last 100 years or so. But the time line seems to reverse as we leave Worthing proper, and then it loses all rhyme and reason.

We finally reach the end of the suburban sprawl at Ferring. Here we will take a footpath along Ferring Rife and either have a tootle round Kingston Gorse to see where the 1% lives or stop for coffee at the Bluebird café, or possibly both depending on time and weather.

The ride back to central Worthing will be along the seafront, including the now legal cycle path on the promenade from West Worthing to the pier. Lunch will be at the Denton by the pier. Then a short ride through the town centre to the station for those whose choice is the train home. Keenies can carry on cycling along the coast through Shoreham and Hove to Brighton.

Meet: Worthing central station (south side) at 10:15am.
Getting there: 9:50 train from Brighton (9:54 from Hove). Worthing station car park is in Southcourt Road, on the north side of the line and the fee on Sunday is £1.
Distance: About 15 miles, plus an optional 12 or so from Worthing to Brighton.
Hills: None.
Off road: Mainly on quiet, suburban roads and cycle paths with short sections of bridleway and footpath. There is also a short walk along the beach if we include Kingston Gorse.
Catering: Possible morning coffee stop en route. Lunch at the Denton by Worthing Pier.
Getting home: Direct trains to Brighton leave Worthing at 09 minutes past the hour; an alternative is the 41 minutes past the hour, which involves a change at Hove.
My mobile: 0789 985 1172.


Non-ride report: 5 February 2012 – Worthing to LA*† (or “Snow? What snow?”)

7 February 2012

Roger had very sensibly cancelled his planned ride the previous evening, because of the weather forecast. However I was due to visit my daughter in Worthing anyway, and when she phoned in the morning to say there was no snow there, I sent a message to the Google group to see if anyone wanted to do an impromptu ride. John Clinton responded, and so we met up at the Coast Café on Worthing seafront at 1.15, and after a brief snack we set off along the coast in a westerly direction. So as not to steal Roger’s thunder (and anticipating that his ride will now be re-scheduled to a snow-free day) we decided to simply cycle along the coast as far as Littlehampton – or Ford in my case since there were, conveniently, no trains running from the aforementioned station.

We made a lively pace – John is, as all who know him will appreciate, one of those versatile cyclists who can both dawdle along at Clarion pace and race along with the “professionals”. The 14.8 miles to Ford were covered at a very respectable average speed of 11.4 mph, the quickest ride I’ve ever done; I’m usually one of the “dawdlers”, but I found I could keep up with John, and, on a day when the weather was not exactly tropical, the speed helped to warm us up. Thankfully, in addition to the absence of snow, there seemed to be very little wind.

John very kindly accommodated my few requests for a photo-stop, and the results can be seen on Flickr. On the way we talked of many things, and he explained to me what an Audax is. (I don’t think I will ever see one from the inside!)


We turned inland at Ferring, and passed through East Preston, West Preston (which is where Angmering Station is – the real Angmering having featured in several Clarion rides), and Rustington before regaining the seafront behind the East Beach Café at Littlehampton (I had never seen the back of it before!).

East Beach Cafe

On through “LA”* and then over the bridge to Climping (as it says on the map) or Clymping (as the road sign would have it) and here we parted company at the A259 roundabout, John returning the way he had come (and I hasten to add that he had cycled all the way from Brighton).


On the approach to Ford Station I suddenly saw what had happened to all the snow we were promised. It was on the Downs!

Snow-covered Downs

Many thanks to John for his companionship and patience.


[More photos on Flickr]

* Railway abbreviation for Littlehampton (say it with a Cockney accent).
† Actually Ford, but LA looks better.

The Next Ride: Sunday 2 October 2011 – Brighton to Goring

21 September 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Buses will replace trains on the London/Brighton line between Hassocks and Brighton on the 2nd October 2011, so a coastal ride is planned.

Please group at the Palace Pier from 10.30 am for a 10.45 departure.

We will ride to Ferring via the usual coastal cycleways: Shoreham, Lancing, Worthing and finishing at The Henty Arms, Ferring, where we will have lunch.

I have made a provisional booking for lunch at 13.45 for an anticipated turnout of eight riders. If there are more, a quick phone call will be made to adjust the number.

After lunch we will backtrack down Sea Lane to Goring station to catch the train back to Brighton.

I have planned that the journey to Hentys will take three hours and possibly one-and-a-half hours in the pub. The ride from the pub to Goring station is no more than one-and-a-half miles.

Train times back to Brighton: 05, 22, and 52 minutes past each hour.