The Last Ride: Sunday 7 April 2019 – Berwick to Hastings – Sally and Nick Report

15 April 2019

Berwick to Hastings by way of Arlington, Abbots Wood, Glynleigh Levels. Pevensey Levels, Normans Bay and Bexhill.

Part 1 (Sally)

Graham led his flock of 12 assorted cyclists from Berwick station (most of us having arrived from Brighton on the 10.05 train) on a varied and beautiful excursion through farmland and woodland, over marshes and along the shoreline, to the De La Warr Pavilion, where four of us peeled away after a late lunch to take the 16.30 train home from Bexhill station: Angela C., Bill, Wendy Taylor, and Sally. This was Bill’s first ride with the Clarion and it was his birthday. Welcome, Bill, please come on lots more rides. The other nine carried on for après ride activities in Hastings, and I cannot say what they got up to there: Graham, Wendy Scott, Angela D., Prudence, Tessa, Sikka, Nick, David, Chris.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

The day was mild and hazy, with a thin mist that never quite cleared, and at one stage turned into a gentle sprinkle of rain. Most of the rain fell while we were in the Pavilion, eating expensive but very nice food, and looking at an exhibition on Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, called “And Still I Rise” (after a poem by Maya Angelou), and paintings by Hayv Kahramans, Iraqi Kurd artist who had left as a refugee during the first Gulf War, when she was still a little girl.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Our ride was remarkable for the virtual absence of undulations, just the occasional hump-backed bridge over the many watercourses on the Levels. The woodland edges were embroidered with birdsong and emergent wild-flowers. I look forward to seeing Nick’s (and perhaps also Tessa’s) pictures of ladies’ smocks along the ditches, primroses, ferns, wood anemones, bluebells just beginning to unfurl, dog violets, lesser celandines…Not many insects about, and though we took in a snatch of the Cuckoo Trail, no hint of a cuckoo.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Along the Levels, the lanes followed the drainage ditches for much of the way, where last year’s dried reeds and reed-mace were still standing high, pale gold and ghostly, and I couldn’t help thinking how they will be full of birds in a month, when the new stalks have grown. I hope so, anyway. At the side of one lane we were saddened to find a dead badger. Tessa and Sikka caught a glimpse of a stoat (alive), and Wendy T. and Sally saw a red partridge near to Normans Bay; this was alive too but didn’t deserve to be, as it was trying to hurl itself under a car.

It was too early in the season to be tempted into the sea, but on a future occasion we might have to take swimming gear. It’s a relaxed sort of beach, and might be an irresistible destination at the end of a ride on a hot day.

Twenty-two miles for the revellers who went on to Hastings, twenty for the other four of us, and a very pleasant journey it was.

Part 2 (Nick)

After two hours of art, feminism and food in the De La Warr Pavilion, the remaining nine of us were keen to cycle the six miles along the coastal path to Hastings and complete the route devised by Graham. The rain we had observed during lunch had stopped, which made the final leg of the ride a pleasant experience.

April 7, 2919: Berwick to Hastings

When we reached Hastings, three of the group (Sikka, Tessa and Angela D) decided to head straight to Hastings station and return home. The remaining six of us were keen to investigate one of the pubs Graham had researched for the end of the ride.

Before we all headed to a pub in Hastings Old Town, Wendy was keen to follow the main road to see where it led to. We ended up in a car park with a good view of the coastline and marvelled at the effects of dramatic coastal erosion on a path, which had been completely destroyed.

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

Graham’s suggestion of Hastings pub was a good one. The Crown is an independent pub, with local suppliers for its food and drink. I decided I didn’t need any food, so concentrated on sampling an excellent oatmeal stout instead. All the food looked good and Wendy’s vegan rhubarb pudding tasted particularly delicious.

April 7, 2019: Bexhill to Hastings

April 7, 2019: Berwick to Hastings

We spent quite a while in The Crown discussing train times and made the travel options back to Brighton appear more complicated than they really were. Sunday trains can often be uncomfortably packed in the evening, but we found seating together to talk about the great day out out we had all had.

Sally and Nick

The Last Ride: Sunday 29 July, Rye to Hastings

1 August 2012

At the former collapsed culvert
From Rye station, Angela, Annie, Elaine, Jim and Rob made our way to the Café on the Quay, which we shared with the Udimore chapter of the stone-carrying Hell’s Angels.* Cycled along by the Brede Valley, past Dumb Woman Lane (which entailed discussion on the origins of the name) – luckily the collapsed culvert had been repaired. Discussed whether chickens have wombs and birth canals. Saw old windmill and new windmills in distance.


Wind Farm

Had tasty nutritious lunch at King’s Head before re-mounting for the next leg of the journey through some wooded glades.

Tree-covered Lane 3

This is where it started to get hilly. We opted for tea at a vineyard instead of a wine-tasting session (why?), then cycled up (and down) some more hills, though it seemed there were more up than down. Finally saw the sea and cycled down to Hastings (give or take another hill or two).

The sea at last

Despite the hills, weather and scenery and company made for an enjoyable day.


* See Jim for details. [Jim adds: if you can’t find me, try googling Udimore]

The Next Ride: Sunday 29 July 2012 – Rye to Hastings via Brede Valley

17 July 2012

Udimore – Brede – Cackle Street – Sedlescombe – Westfield – Ore

I had this ride on the list a few weeks back, but removed it when I realised it would be, to borrow a phrase of Roger’s, too hilly for some. Then along came the Olympic bike ban on London trains, and this ride came back into the frame because it doesn’t involve any London trains. OK, it is hilly, but I reckon out of our huge membership there ought to be a posse of stout fellows and fellowesses who can manage it (I did, after all!). And it’s not as hilly as Polegate to Eridge – far from it! It’s also a very pretty ride – not just good views from the high points, but many tree-covered slopes which dapple the sunlight most agreeably.

The Brede is one of the two rivers that flow into the sea at Rye (or at least they used to, when there was sea at Rye). Its valley runs eastwards from Sedlescombe to Rye, with the railway joining it after Doleham, and we will follow it for 10 miles on the north side, initially at river level and then climbing to the ridge with the lane. We cross it at Sedlescombe, pass the Pestalozzi International Village, and then turn south-east towards Westfield (not the shopping centre!) and south to Ore and Hastings.

Lunch will be at the King’s Head at Udimore, which has splendid views across the valley. There is a possible tea stop at the Carr Taylor vineyard between Sedlescombe and Westfield. Tea and cake are reasonably priced, and there is also wine tasting on offer!

If all that doesn’t tempt you … I will be trying out a new facility with this ride: as we can now put each ride’s photos into a separate “set”, I will be posting some photos before the ride. (They are photos from the practice, of course!) I’ll put them up as soon as the previous ride is out of the way; so take a look and decide whether you can bear to miss it.

Length: about 20 miles.
Duration: about 5 hours.
Terrain: Some hard-surfaced (stony) cycleway, part of NCN2. Otherwise mostly quiet lanes. 2 miles of B2089. One very short stretch of the A28, on the pavement.
Hills: Well, although we are mainly cycling alongside a valley, the Brede has tributaries and these tributaries also have valleys … but we do not go above the 70m contour until right at the end, when we climb to the ominously named “ridge” at Ore. There will be at least four or five places we will need to dismount and walk.
Start at 12:00. (See below for location.)
Getting there: Train to Rye. Because of the limited bike-carrying capacity of the Brighton–Ashford trains, I suggest Brightoners divide themselves between the 9.20 and 10.20. I will be getting the 9.20, and heading for the Café on the Quay (directions below) as some of us did last time; this café is on our route, so I suggest we start the ride from there. Londoners may not be able to make this ride due to the bike ban, but you could try your luck via Ashford on the 9.37 from Victoria (southeastern side – not calling at Clapham Junction) or the 9.40 from Charing Cross. Those with cars can park at either end and use the train (note that this is not a circular ride).
Getting back: Trains from Hastings to Brighton at 3 minutes past the hour and London Charing Cross at 50 minutes past.

Directions to the Café on the Quay:
From the front of Rye station cycle up the wide one-way street at right angles to the railway. Turn right at the top, then carry straight on till you come to a roundabout on the A259. The café is on the corner to your left.


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:


The last ride: Sunday 1 May 2011 – Rye to Hastings

3 May 2011

[More photos on Flickr]

The new idea is to spread Clarion groups over several trains to avoid the wrath of the station staff. The problem with this ride was that trains to Rye only leave once an hour, which means spreading is not straightforward; meanwhile each train is only two coaches, which makes spreading all the more advisable.

May Day celebrations 030

As it turned out, we did very well. Suzanne and I caught the 8:20 giving us plenty of time for a nostalgic, pre-ride spin from Rye down to Camber Sands, where Suzanne had spent several family holidays as a child. Angela, Jim (our leader) and Wilma were on the 9:20 arriving at Rye in good time to enjoy breakfast at a café by the harbour. Anne (happy birthday!), Joyce, Mick, and Sue were on the 10:20 and their arrival completed our group of nine riders.

May Day celebrations 049

We were out of Rye in just a few minutes and off the busy main road onto a pleasant track, which took us past Camber Castle, built by Henry VIII around 1540 as a defence against invasion from France. The track then took us on to Sea Road, leading Mick to say that it was good to be avoiding the A and B roads; we all politely collapsed laughing and tried to think of ways to discourage further comments of this kind. The first part of Sea Road proved to have quite a few bumps and potholes, but the wind was behind us and it was flat (like the sea).

May Day celebrations 038

At the end of Sea Road is the small village of Pett Level, which, Angela assured us, has a fossilised dinosaur footprint on the beach. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to stop and look for it; we all had more serious things in mind, namely hills and lunch. The rumour was that the latter was at the top of the former.

May Day celebrations 048

We toiled up Pett Level Rd; it was pretty steep and a few people resorted to walking. Then into Warren Road, which was pretty flat, until it became extremely steep and Jim said we could all get off, except Mick who was forced (by means of a challenge from Jim) to see how far he could cycle up it. He made it all the way to the top of what could well be the steepest climb ever on a B&H Clarion ride.

Coastguard Tearooms

The treat at the top was the Coastguard Tea Room at Fairlight, which not only served tea, but also hearty meals, beer etc. A round picnic table for eight had been reserved for us on the patio, which meant that Suzanne (being backstop and therefore number nine) was the only one who got a proper chair. The round table naturally encouraged discussion, which focused mainly on the AV electoral system and whether or not we could stop talking about the AV electoral system and get back on the bikes.


It was pretty much downhill all the way to Hastings. Some riders sped off to the station to catch the 16:03 train, while others decided to seek out some of the joys of the Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival.

Glorious weather, yet another new and interesting ride, and good company! What more can you ask for? Many thanks Jim!


The Next Ride. Sunday 1 May 2011: Rye – Hastings

21 April 2011

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

Sunday 1 May 2011
Rye – Winchelsea Beach – Pett Level – Fairlight – Hastings

In the first circular of 2011, Ian asked: “Can we think of something really appropriate for 1 May?” So I looked on the Internet and found the Jack-in-the-Green Festival at Hastings (, and suggested we go there. However it did not quite fit the bill, because it turned out that (a) what Ian had in mind was the political, rather than the pagan, aspect of Mayday; and (b) there is not much going on on the Sunday of Jack-in-the-Green anyway. (Political activities tend to take place on the bank holiday of course, and so too does the main event of Jack-in-the-Green, because, as its website stresses, it is a modern re-invention of a traditional festival and certain concessions have been made to modern ways of doing things.)

Jenny suggested instead the Celtic Festival at Michelham Priory; but by now I had got the Hastings bit firmly between my teeth, having gazed longingly at all those contour-free areas on the OS map to the north-east of the town. (As distinct from the contour-rich areas, which include Hastings itself.)

Mere mention of Rye may, of course, strike terror in the hearts of some Clarionettes, but to them I would say, “Calm down! This isn’t July 2008, and anyway we are going the other way!” And mention of a climb from 0 to 160 metres above sea level may strike terror in other hearts, so I won’t mention it, other than to say that most of that is a short steep bit that we will walk up. In fact, as I implied earlier, we cling to the “0” contour for a whole 6 miles before setting our sights any higher, so there is a reasonable degree of flatness in this ride. And the climbing will be worth it when we get to the top!

It is only 11.5 miles from Rye to Hastings Old Town, so we will arrive in time to see some morris dancing and an exhibition about the festival. At 4 pm there is a concert by the Copper Family (£5) for anyone who wants to stay on, or, for those who prefer it, drumming in the streets (free). Later, Robb Johnson will be giving a concert at 8 pm (£8). The last train to Brighton leaves Hastings at 10.18 pm, so it will be possible to see at least some of this, and if you do it will tick Ian’s “political” box as well because Robb is one of our foremost socialist songwriters, and definitely worth seeing. Those of a more traditional bent may prefer Les Derniers Trouvères (£8).

Lunch will be at the Coastguard Tea Room (150m a.s.l.) before the descent into Hastings; I have booked a table, but need to know numbers, so please tell me if you are planning to come ( Oxygen cylinders will not be supplied.

Length: about 12.5 miles. (The last mile is from the Old Town to Hastings Station.)
Duration: about 3 hours (including lunch).
Terrain: Lanes and bridleways. (The bridleways are the grassy sort and unlikely to get muddy.)
Start time and place: Front of Rye Station, 11.50 am. (If you don’t want to have to carry your bike over the footbridge, leave the platform at the Ashford end and go along the path, over the level crossing, then take the second right and go through the car park to the front of the station.)

We will have to be careful about trains, not only because of the barrier line jobsworths, but because the Rye trains are only 2 cars. The 10.20 from Brighton will arrive in time, but I will be on the one before it (the 9.20) and will have a coffee or two at the “Fat Controller” café while I wait. Londoners can travel to Rye from the opposite direction, via Ashford, but will need to leave London Bridge at 9.16 and wait for nearly an hour at Ashford. The wait is shortened to 30 minutes if you can get the High-Speed from St Pancras International at 10.12. When you contact me to confirm attendance, tell me your preferred mode of travel and I will check that we are not squeezing too many onto one train.

Return trains to Brighton leave Hastings at 3 minutes past each hour; to London Bridge (via Tonbridge) at 13 minutes past; and to Clapham Junction and Victoria at 18 minutes past.

Jim. (Mobile 07742-963239)