The Last Ride: Sunday 11 November

16 November 2018

Hassocks loop via Hurstpierpoint, Washbrooks Farm, Muddleswood, Twineham, Goddards Green

The 3 of us paused for a group selfie outside Hassocks Station, wondering if our fellow Clarionisters had been deterred by the showery weather forecast, which proved to be a fine example of fake news, perhaps because we were north of the downs.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Graham led Nick and me off towards Hurstpierpoint, where a small crowd had gathered at the crossroads outside the church to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. We paused to observe the 2 minutes silence and hear the traditional bugle rendition of The Last Post before continuing on to Washbrooks Farm for our coffee stop. We were rather impressed by the magnificent pumpkins on display, but completely blown away by the silver sparkly toilet seats, unfairly only available in the women’s toilets.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Blue skies and wispy clouds contrasted with the golden autumn foliage and leaf fall as we continued along the B2117 and on to the quieter Shaves Wood Lane, then north towards Twineham. A traffic-free lane led us along the final stretch to our lunch stop at The Sportsman Pub. We were impressed with the quality of our food choices. Graham’s Nut Roast was served with beautifully cooked veg, my chips were served with a complementary side order of Cumberland sauce but Nick surprised us all by going crazy with an order of sweet potato chips, which came with a complementary side of braised carrots and parsnips. In honour of Julian, we perused the extensive dessert menu before returning to our cluster of bikes and heading off on the last leg of our journey.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

More quiet roads and country lanes took us past Hurstpierpoint College on our return to Hassocks Station, where we waited about 2 minutes for the next train, which was a direct service to Brighton.

November 11, 2018: Hassocks circular

Thanks a lot Graham for leading us on this enjoyable ride, which fortuitously avoided the blustery showers forecasted for Brighton.


The Last Ride: Sunday 13 December 2015 Hassocks Circular – Twineham and Wineham

17 December 2015

Well, we were just a little band of four today as Ian, Julian, Delia and I left Hassocks station on a warmer than usual December morning.  We followed a familiar route out towards Hurstpierpoint where hymns could be heard as we cycled past the church at the crossroads in the village. The congregation was certainly ‘giving it their all’ for us to be able to hear them from the roadway.  Then, on through Albourne towards Twineham through some very pretty lanes where Julian identified the birdsong of a green woodpecker, robins and possibly a song thrush, who were also ‘in good voice’.

At this time of year the winter landscape allows views through the trees that, of course, with trees covered in their summer leaves, you do not see in other seasons.  Between Twineham and Wineham, (what a lovely rhyming couple), we had a view of something unexpected, a massive electricity sub-station which crackled its energy supply along the wires between the concrete supports. Not the prettiest of sights, but at least it is out of view for that part of the year when the trees are in leaf.  Other views through the trees were more pleasing to the eye – the wintry, grey outlines of the Downs and a patchwork of pasture and arable fields.

Always along these routes are some very pretty houses and cottages and also some very large properties which I often find make me wonder what people do for a living to own such large places.  Well, Ian came out with a theory that made us all laugh. He reckoned that many were owned by retired drug dealers who, having evaded the law, wanted a quiet life in the country in their old age!

At Twineham we stopped for lunch at the Royal Oak which, according to the landlord, dates back to the 16th Century and has been a pub for over 200 years. The historic building prompted a conversation about the dangers of travelling by horse drawn coaches back in the day of highwaymen.  Ian, Delia and I have been watching the recent programmes on the tele about smugglers, pirates and highwaymen and the dastardly deeds they got up to. Worth a look on the iplayer if you haven’t managed to see them.

After lunch, (three delicious plates of ploughman’s and one bowl of spiced carrot soup), we began the journey back through Woodmancote towards Albourne and Hurstpierpoint, and we decided not to stop for tea as the light was beginning to fade and Delia was concerned that I do not have any lights on my bike.  So, we got back to Hassocks mid-afternoon in order to make our way home after a very pleasant winter ride and even more pleasant conversation.  Thanks to Ian for organising and leading the ride and may he and all other ‘Clarionistas’  have a very lovely Xmas and I look forward to a New Year of many more rides.


The Next Ride: Sunday 13 December –  Twineham and Wineham

2 December 2015

Since our usual end-of-the-year ride – the short circular based on Berwick – is not possible because of lack of train availability, I’ve been thinking about an alternative – short and easy – substitute and this is what I’ve come up with.

We meet at Hassocks station and make for Hurstpierpoint, Albourne and High Cross, taking the Twineham road as far as Twineham Green, then along Bob Lane to Wineham and (an early) lunch at the Royal Oak – always a favourite stop. Back at High Cross on our return leg, we’ll take the road down to Shaves Wood then the B road back to Hurstpierpoint with a possible tea stop at Washbrooks Farm before returning to Hassocks.

Quietish roads, no-off road, no big hills, a few minor “undulations,” only  about 16/17 miles

 Catch the 10.14 from Brighton station or meet at Hassocks station at 10.23.

Best trains from London would be the 9.36 from Victoria – arrives at 10.37 – or the 8.56 – arrives 10.41 from London Bridge.  It always takes a while for us to get going but if you’re planning to take either of these routes please let me know so we can be sure not to start without you. 

My mobile number is 07770743287 and it will be switched on (!) as soon as I get to the station.

Do check your emails at 5 pm the day before – if the weather looks like being grim I will cancel/postpone.


The Last Ride: Sunday 14 December 2014 – Hassocks to Bolney

17 December 2014

Six members (John Clinton ride leader, Joyce, Julian, Rob, David and Leon) grouped at Hassocks railway station. After taking the usual group photos we set off at 10.30am in high spirits toward Hurstpierpoint turning north into College Lane and then onto Danworth lane where we encountered some broken ice covering parts of the lane in low areas, unfortunately Julian slipped and fell, injuring his left knee. After a short rest he mounted up and continued riding. The night before temperatures dropped to about -6C in mid-Sussex so we should have expected some slippery lanes.

No further instances occurred and we rode on to cross the A272 at Bolney. The gentle slopes of mid-Sussex blended with the mid-Sussex ridge where Joyce started to dismount and walk some short sections. Just a short run up to the Bolney Stage PH for lunch was a few minutes away for our six cool riders. While parking our bikes Rob produced some white plastic saddle covers for each of us but, here we come into our own with special tomfoolery and the covers were swiftly adorning our heads (see photo).

Lunch at the Bolney Stage

We were greeted, seated and presented with the menu even though the dining areas were quite well occupied.  Our meals  soon arrived and enjoyed with plenty of pleasant conversation and laughs. We all enjoyed our meals and about an hour and a half later we returned to our bikes for the return journey. Lights went on, and off we went, mostly downhill returning on the same route as far as Goddards Green where Leon  offered an alternative via the Burgess Hill Green Crescent that brought us out onto the London road cycle route between Burgess Hill and Hassocks where it started raining.

We split-up at this point because John was to ride back to Brighton, Rob went east to Ditchling where he left his car and four headed back to Hassocks station to complete the circle.

Our thanks to John for planning and leading this ride.


The last ride: Sunday 12 January 2014 – Hassocks to Shoreham

14 January 2014


Despite a cold overcast day a magnificent 12 assembled at Hassocks Station. There was our leader John, Joyce, Leon, Roger, Suzanne, Linda, Richard, Angela, Jenny, Anne, Mick and a welcome return of Rob. We set off through Hurstpierpoint and Albourne to Partridge Green where the Green Man provided lunch. Most of us enjoyed our meal though our pockets let out a small ouch.


As usual the conversation was varied and interesting ranging at my end of the table from language learning to the 38 Degree meeting to Clarionette plans for upcoming exciting holidays with Linda off to Morocco, where for one day she has to forsake the bike in favour of a camel to cross the desert. Meanwhile  Anne and Mick looked forward to cycling in Cuba with Fred and Amanda and even her rarely sighted husband Rob.


After lunch Rob left to cycle back to Lewes while Joyce and Leon got off to a quick start allegedly to curtail their ride at Henfield. As it happened Joyce was able to keep going all the way to Shoreham. The rest of us set off at a good pace, trying to keep the cold and a bit of drizzle at bay. It has to be said that the car drivers seemed bigger faster and more aggressive than ever.


We arrived back at the airport but tea and cakes were declined as it was apparent that by the time they were consumed it would be dark. So all made their way to Shoreham Station save Jenny, John and Mick who decided to cycle back to Brighton.
Thanks John, for leading the ride. Thanks also to our very own lanterne rouge, Suzanne.


The Next Ride: Sunday 20 October – Shermanbury

9 October 2013

We welcome people who want to try one or two of our rides before joining.  If you would like to join the Clarion club, click here to download a membership form.

We first did a ride incorporating the Shermanbury Place bridleway back in 2005 and we’ve done it a couple of times more recently, but not for a  while.. I’ve kept it  as “flat” as possible, made the afternoon session a bit shorter than the pre-lunch one.

We leave Hassocks station and follow the road to Hurstpierpoint where we turn south once over the A23 and follow the old London road down as far as Shaves Wood  where we take the road up to High Cross. The last bit into Shermanbury involves a short stretch of busy main road, then we take the bridleway through Shermanbury, emerge onto a lane near Wineham and make our way to the Royal Oak for lunch.

Then it’s Bobs Lane, Twineham and down to High Cross, then Albourne and retrace our route back to the station.


Meet:      at Hassocks station at 10 54

Getting there:     Catch 10 45 from Brighton station (earlier train at 10 15 – arrives 10 24).   Anyone coming from London should catch the 9 32 which arrives at 10 52.

Distance: 19 miles

Off road   Just the bridleway at Shermanbury – shouldn’t be a problem.

Hills:  not many and only little ones

Catering:  lunch at the Royal Oak with possibility of tea at the Hassocks station pub (or a diversion to Washbrooks Farm)

Getting back:  trains to at 08, 37 and 52  minutes past the hour to Brighton and 14, 24 and 54 to London.

My mobile:          0789 985 1172


The Last Ride: Sunday 6 October 2013: Hassocks to Brighton in the Late Summer (?) Sun

9 October 2013

Well, it certainly seemed like summer; for much of the ride my coat was securely stowed in the pannier …

There was drama and near-tragedy as Angela and I waited at Preston Park station: a woman appeared to be trying to jump in front of a train, and two men were trying to restrain her. All appeared to have been drinking. The railway authorities were alerted and the fast train came through very slowly, tooting its horn. Then the police took her away. We could not begin to imagine what was going through her mind or what dreadful circumstances had precipitated this crisis. A sobering experience to begin the day.

At Hassocks we were joined by Roger, Suzanne and Richard, and had plenty of time to admire the new station building which had replaced the modular concrete construction put up in the early 70s (and which in turn had apparently replaced a magnificent Victorian edifice) as we waited for the later train.

Hassocks Station

Hassocks Station

It arrived, delivering forth Linda; then Rob turned up in his car, having planned to board the later train at Preston Park only to find that it did not stop there. Sean telephoned to say he was on his way from Plumpton but not to wait; we did wait, but eventually set off, having given him the location of the pub. We met up with Sean and Jane in Underhill Lane, at the junction with Lodge Lane. Just before we reached that junction, we noticed that some very anti-social person had flytipped a whole load of old furniture in the lane.

Fly tipping

Why did they do that, when they clearly had a vehicle with which they could have taken it to the tip? Someone said it’s because they would have had to pay at the tip; but this is not the case at either of the Brighton & Hove tips, so maybe others ought to follow suit.

From this, the eastern extremity of the ride, the nine of us proceeded westwards through Clayton, pausing to admire the castellated northern portal of Clayton railway tunnel. I have often wondered why a later, brick-built addition had been allowed to spoil this façade; I am told it is a cottage which is sometimes open to the public. A cottage for whom though? The tunnel-keeper? Who would want to live there, with rumbling noises every 5 minutes?

Clayton Tunnel - North Portal

On up New Way Lane, carefully stewarded as ever by our leader, Roger, who gave a short presentation about Danny, the stately home now converted into luxury retirement flats. Apparently if you go to live there you are expected to take your own dining table! Sean, ever the source of fascinating nuggets of information, asked us what we thought Paul Dacre’s father had done during the war. The answer was that he was so patriotic and dedicated to the defence of his country (unlike the “Britain-hating” Ralph Miliband apparently) that he took a job as … a theatre critic!



Past Hurstpierpoint College, up Danworth Lane and Pomper Lane (which seemed new territory to me, though apparently not to the Clarion), over the A23 (suppressing the urge to yell obscentities at the cars) and so to the pub, the Duke of York at Sayers Common.

Shady Lane

Danworth Lane

The food was delicious, and the conversation as usual was rich and varied. Angela raised the topic of a Christmas social, with some sort of consensus emerging around a meal preceded by table tennis. But if you have any other ideas I’m sure she’d like to hear from you.

Lots of people had come out to enjoy the sun. We saw mud-splattered runners, and horses were much in evidence – some with carriages attached, including one small two-wheeled device apparently known as a jog-cart. At one point a long-necked sheep was also spotted.

Horse and Cart

The Jog-Cart

Rob photographed an ingenious tricycle with baby carriage attached, much discussed at lunchtime; Roger had also seen it but thought it was a rubbish bin, possibly the vehicle of choice for a professional but environmentally-conscientious flytipper?


After lunch we took the old A23 (now a B-road but you’d never believe it) to Newtimber, where the old London Road – here a quiet, grassy cul-de-sac – becomes the Equestrian Route to Newtimber Place, which we briefly visited before continuing to Pyecombe, the last bit of the journey being on the scary A281.

Group at Newtimbers

At Newtimber Place: L-R Richard, Suzanne, Rob, Linda, Sean, Roger, Jane, Angela

From here it was the safe, but noisy, NCN20 alongside the A23 all the way back to Preston Park. We passed the south portal of the tunnel, where they had forgotten to build castellations, and thanks to Roger’s impeccable timing, reached the park 10 minutes before the projected time of 3.30. At the Rotunda Café we found Fred waiting for us, and also Colin, who just happened to be taking his weekly spin round the park and joined us for a coffee. Linda by now had departed for home; poor Rob had to get the train back to Hassocks to retrieve his car, and Sean and Jane had somehow to get to Plumpton without the benefit of a train (since the line was closed for the day).


At the Rotunda: L-R Rob, Richard, Colin, Jim, Roger, Suzanne, Fred, Sean, Jane

After the ride, Rob sent me his GPS log:


Thanks to Roger for demonstrating that there is still unpedalled territory out there to explore, and thanks also for arranging such nice weather.


The Last Ride: Sunday 18 August – Balcombe to Hassocks

23 August 2013

One life, don't frack it.

Anne and I took the early train with Linda who had already cycled from Lancing to Brighton, on arrival we found that Marilyn was also on the train. We had hoped to make a quick visit to the anti-fracking camp before the ride. An acquaintance, who we met at the station by chance had a map. Unfortunately I was looking at it upside down. With Linda in tow I cycled 2 miles north up a rather steep hill. Meanwhile Anne had followed Marilyn to the tea shop and was directed to the camp, so we at least have some photos and a brief token presence. We all arrived back at the station in time to meet the 11.17 train, along with Corinne and her sister Lyn, Sikka/Sue and Julia. Our leader John meanwhile had cycled up from Brighton. The police kindly obliged for the group photo.

balcombe to Hassocks,Clarion 004

We set off with John in the lead. On the principle of devil take the hindmost, Anne consigned me, on pain of unspecified matrimonial sanctions, to be the sweeper up and thereafter chivvied me whenever my front wheel crept past anyone else’s back wheel.

The ride had a certain improvisational feel to it but as John remarked one lane looked much like another. They were, however, very pretty lanes with fine views, albeit bought at the expense of a few substantial undulations. We passed via Staplefield and part of the NCN 20 and hence past Warninglid.

We arrived at the Bolney Stage, originally a famous stop on the Brighton/London road, for a long lunch break. The food was of a high quality and enjoyed by all. The conversation ranged widely and naturally included the fracking issue and energy policy in general.

balcombe to Hassocks,Clarion 006

After lunch we made our way to Hurstpierpoint, although the route taken did not completely coincide with the maps available. Faced with the choice of an early train home from Hassocks or Washbrook Farm for tea and cake, everyone but John, Anne and myself opted to go straight back. We three enjoyed tea, a slice of tiffin for me. and more leisurely and highly enjoyable conversation at the end of which we decided to forsake the train and rode back to Brighton together down the NCN 20.

balcombe to Hassocks,Clarion 005

Thank you John for a very enjoyable ride and congenial company.


The Next Ride: Sunday 10 February 2013: Hassocks – Fulking – Newtimber (only 15/16 miles)

29 January 2013

From Hassocks, we head through Hurstpierpoint and across the A23 to Albourne with the old 1930s former Kings Head pub in front of us. We make our way to down to High Cross, down Blackstone Lane and the lanes south of the A281 past Bramlands. Then south again down the appropriately named Clappers Lane, arriving in Fulking.

The Shepherd and Dog – the popular pub at the bottom of Devils Dyke – or the Royal Oak at Poynings – for lunch.

Heading towards Brighton for a while and then down the lane to Newtimber. We can have a look at the Newtimber Place, a moated 16th/17th century house. Then along ‘Equestrian Route’ for a couple of hundred yards until it joins the cycle route beside the A23 and links up (near the ‘Llama Trekking’!) with the road back to Hurstpierpoint with the possibility of a tea stop.

Catch 10 15 from Brighton station or meet at 10 24 at Hassocks station. Trains for return at 1505, 1536, 1554.

Anne and Mick