The Last Ride: Sunday 10 January 2016  – Newhaven Circular

12 January 2016

In spite of a gloomy weather forecast, seven riders gathered at the Pier: Jenny, Joyce, Julian, Leon, our leader Mick, new member Sean who has just moved to Brighton from London, and Tessa who is training for her cycling holiday in Burma. Just as we set off towards the marina the rain began to do its worst, but at least it was at our backs in the strong, cold, south-westerly wind. Anne joined us at the marina as we thought better of the undercliff, given that the sea was so rough and the tide at its highest, and headed up along the cycle path by the coast road. When we eventually joined the undercliff path at Rottingdean the sea was pounding spectacularly over the sea wall, full of sand and stones, although we managed to avoid the worst of it by hugging the cliffs to Saltdean.

The pretty awful weather soon persuaded Joyce, Leon, and Tessa to leave us, but the rest of us soldiered on, blown along by the wind, and as we meandered through the bungalowed backstreets of Peacehaven the rain stopped and some blue sky appeared. Mick had planned the ride to try out the new part of NCN2, which runs beside the coast road out of Peacehaven before crossing it to a new section linking to the road downhill into Newhaven. The new link turns from the main road straight up a sharp climb that caught some of us out in the wrong gear, but we’ll know next time.

Riding along by Newhaven harbour Mick and I were amazed and a bit alarmed by the height of the tide, which was lapping right up almost to the top of the harbour walls. The people in the houses there must have been very anxious. By the time we reached The Ark, our lunch destination, my feet were soaking wet and cold, so I decided to save the price of a meal and head straight for the station. All the way back the train passed endless waterlogged fields and the river Ouse at Lewes was as high as I have ever seen it, seemingly just about to burst its banks.

Sorry to abandon you all so abruptly, I hope you had a good lunch and an entertaining journey home. The rest of the report will of necessity have a different author, but thanks to Mick for leading a very nice route which is much improved by the new NCN link.


And Anne’s Report

Wet & Wild West Wind Assisted improved route to Seaford.

Half the troupe having peeled off at Rottingdean & I having joined at the Marina, it was a thrilling & scary ride to Saltdean, with Jenny Mick, Sean & Julian racing the waves on the Undercliff. I was hoping for respite at the Saltdean Tunnel, but no, the leading 4 were wind-assisted up the 2 steep slopes past the Saltdean cafe so I struggled to keep up with them. Julian told me it was the first time he’d managed to cycle all the way up that very steep incline. I pushed my bike but that was still easier than usual. We flew along the NCN 2 to Newhaven but by then, Jenny was soaked & wanted home, but remaining 4 dived into the pub, where warm fire & warm food & radiators & creative wall decor greeted us.

Mick phoned Angela & she soon joined us by car for lunch. 3 soups, 1 fish pie & egg, ham & chips, plus salmon gravadlax for me, all good value & much enjoyed at The Ark. Animated conversations followed on politics & Clarion. Julian was keen to cycle on to Seaford because of the nature reserve, but as soon as we left the pub the rain started again & I made a dash for the shelter of the Harbour train station. Julian’s enthusiasm & the tailing off of the rain, persuaded us all to carry on & not surrender to the comfort of the train.

Just as the NCN2 has been improved at Peacehaven’s eastern end, so has the Seaford section been made safer at its western side, so we breezed along at speed, until the 1st sign for the station.

We had already noticed that we’d missed the return train by about 10mins, so that left 20 to explore Seaford, before another train, so impelled by v. strong westerlies, 3 set off for the seafront & I indecisively, followed, hoping to be able to escape from the sea-front without having to battle the headwind too much to reach the train, but that proved impossible. However, I did break out before the boys & managed to find the station five minutes before them, buy my ticket & scream from the train that they were to immediately get on the train as it was about to leave. Nobody wanted to wait another half an hour in wet clothes & all were able to buy tickets on the train & rearrange the bikes at the Lewes stopover.

Thanks to Mick for organising & leading. We all had a great day & hope that nobody suffered any adverse consequences from the adverse weather.


The Next Ride: Sunday 10 January 2016 – Newhaven Circular

3 January 2016

We start the Newhaven circular at the Palace Pier at 10.30 am, go  by the NCN 2 on its new route from  Peacehaven to Newhaven (much better than that unmade road) then return via Hoddern Farm (or train, depending on the weather). We wlll find somewhere for lunch, probably the Ark.

Anne and Mick

The Last Ride: Sunday 28th June 2015 – Brighton to Newhaven by coastal route

1 July 2015

A select party of us neither on hols, raiding Dieppe, nor headlining the Glastonbury main stage, met at the Palace Pier, where Sunday jazz was the rather pleasant order of the day. After purchasing drinks for our secret stop, we made a quick pace towards Saltdean in the Mediterranean-style sun, picking up Angela on the way. Those who found our hidden point not quite as interesting as the prospect of getting there pedalled on for a lovely look to the very end of the extended undercliff path – and back. This prompted much speculation as to the exact reason for this further promenade, of which even some of the seasoned Brightonians amongst us were unaware.

After making a solemn promise to guard the secret of the spot with our lives, the group leader Sikka, Chris, Julia, David, Angela, Sean and Jane, pressed on. Next location was peaceful Peacehaven, with Sikka putting us through our paces, checking all our signalling skills with a tour of the streets taking the following route: right, left, left, right, right, left, left, right, left, right, right, left, left and, finally, right.

A majority then pushed our bikes up a sharp incline towards Newhaven, before going off-road – while speculating on who of those not amongst us would have not appreciated the bumpy ride – and swooping down to the Hope Inn. With much foresight, Sikka and Tessa had booked us a table at the top of the pub looking out to the sea, which served us both for drinks on the terrace and as an enclosed area for when the rain arrived unexpectedly. Along with the usual putting the world to rights, some of us showed our age by discussing the merits of national service – German, though, rather than British.

In the time it took Angela to get her phone to understand that we were not in Newham but Newhaven, the rain stopped, and we were on our way. At the bridge, we dropped Jane off. Unfortunately, the brilliant sunshine of the morning did not return. But, after a surprising sojourn behind the boat yards of Newhaven, through the countryside surrounding the incinerator (controversies aside), another particularly undulating undulation brought us to Piddinghoe, before we pressed on through another short downpour to Brighton.

Though we did not stray far from familiar surroundings, the ride was a watery – in more ways than one – voyage of discovery for many of us. So thanks very much and a speedy recovery to joint leader Tessa. Although she couldn’t make it, along with Sikka, she provided a ride marked by contrasts (paraphrasing Angela) from secret Saltdean, though Peacehaven’s backstreet bungalows and nature in Newhaven to pretty Piddinghoe and beyond.

Jane and Sean

The Next Ride: Sunday 28th June 2015 Brighton to Newhaven by coastal route.

17 June 2015

Return inland via Piddinghoe.

This route to Newhaven literally hugs the coast. We do not set foot on the A259.

Cycle path to the Marina where we join the Undercliff to Saltdean. A short steep climb to a rejoin the clifftop. A stretch of cycle path alongside the A259 before we head closer to the coast taking the concrete and slightly off-road paths beside the bungalows of Peacehaven before we dip down to another stretch of Undercliff.

Short coffee /admiring the view break on Peacehaven Undercliff (weather permitting). Please bring your own flask/snacks.

A stiffish but short climb up to rejoin the track that meanders its way through the bungalows and concrete roads of Peacehaven to the Headland. Here we join the Sustrans route N2 into Newhaven. Off-road with large but manageable puddles if it has been raining, we turn right to swoop down through the suburbs of Newhaven to our lunch stop the Hope Inn.

After lunch we return to Brighton inland via Piddinghoe and the suburbs of Peacehaven, regaining the Undercliff path at Saltdean.

Those daunted by the steep (but short) climb out of Piddinghoe onto the downs above Peacehaven can always take the train back to Brighton from Newhaven.

Meet at Palace Pier at 10.30am

Tessa & Sue (Sikka)

The Last Ride : Sunday 7th September 2014 – Brighton to Seaford and a day full of Brownie Points  

10 September 2014

Go East”, decreed Anne, so East we went … and it was loverly.

September 7, 2014: Brighton to Seaford

Anne, Annie, Corinne, David, Jim, John, Julian, Nick, Roger and Suzanne met at the Palace Pier on a hazy early autumn morning, just right for Clarion.  Once the technology had been discussed (David’s new micro-video camera, Julian’s zoom capacities) and a bog-standard group photo taken, it was off along Madeira Drive (apologies to the cyclist on the “Doitforcharity” cycle ride who thought/hoped that our gaggle of momentarily stationary Clarion cyclists was the Finishing line) and thus onto the (… cliché alert …) sunny uplands of the cliff tops as far as Rottingdean where a vertiginous drop brought us down onto the Undercliff Path, Saltdean and Angela who was waiting to join us.


Then we were eleven.

Once we had conquered the daunting rise to Telscombe Cliff, Anne led us on a complicated but fascinating tour (aka “almost NCRN2”) of Peacehaven and finally onto what seemed like the top of the world above Piddinghoe. First set of Brownie Points to Anne for knowing the code to open the gate across the private road so we did not have to lift the bikes over.

Following a quick whizz down through Piddinghoe (Jim getting giddy by insisting on reading the inscription wound round their Millennium “pole”)


and round the back of Newhaven and once again we were in open cycling country, on our way to Seaford where all made a concerted attack on our sandwiches, scones etc sitting by (…cliché alert …) a sparkling sea. Our lunchtime was enlivened by the sight of (a) a lifeboat rescue practice and (b) Anne taking an energetic dip. Fortunately (a) did not attempt to rescue (b).

September 7, 2014: Brighton to Seaford

Jim opted to leave us at Seaford, thus missing the highlight of the ride – a first for many of us, and a loved, familiar spot for others – described rather boringly as “The South Hill Barn”. The area is, in fact, a charming nature reserve on the top of Seaford Head. Unfortunately Angela did not feel like making the last climb of the day up to the reserve, but Brownie Points to David for going down the mighty hill to check that she was OK, and then ( … mixed metaphor alert …), to burnish his halo even brighter, he looked after the bikes while the rest of the group went to see the (…cliché alert …) stunning view of the Cuckmere Valley and the Seven Sisters.


Sun drenched and tired we all met up with Angela again at the bottom of the steep hill, only to realise that Roger had left his helmet at the top. Not sensible! So it was then his turn to do an extra climb back up. Fortunately two kind people had put the helmet on top of a post where it was eventually found. Brownie points for them.

The ride back to Seaford Station was gloriously downhill. There was a very keen desire on the part of many to stop for tea. However, as a train was standing in the station ready to go,the unanimous decision was that an early cup of tea at home would do instead. In addition to our nine bikes (Brownie Points to Angela’s son, Jack, for going to Seaford to collect her in the car) there must have been another nine non-Clarion bikes spread over the four carriages. Brownie points to Southern for accommodating all of us with a smile.

Many thanks to Anne for an excellent, new, ride.


The Next Ride

31 July 2014

Sunday 10 August:   Brighton to Berwick (Sussex!)

Meet at Palace Pier at 10am & cycle East to Berwick along the NCN2 with some modifications & some chance to escape back by train, should weather, health or inclination incline.

We could modify the route depending on who turns up, but yesterday we took the more undulating top route rather than the Undercliff to Rottingdean & the Hoddern Farm road to Newhaven, rather than the exciting[!] clifftop footpath! If weather is still warm, we propose picnic & swim at Seaford, but, if slow or nasty weather can eat at The Ark at Newhaven.

We can stop for tea at the Litlington Tea Garden & proceed to Berwick Station for the train back to Brighton, or return by train from Seaford for a shorter ride.

Trains leave Berwick station hourly at 48 mins past 3,4,5, etc & Seaford station half-hourly at 27 & 57 past 2,3,4, etc.

Lunch Bring picnic or there are cafes at Seaford & if nasty weather can eat at The Ark,Newhaven.

Terrain Almost all on quiet roads with considerate drivers[yesterday anyway!] Somewhat undulating in parts, but only short parts. Good views.

Distance 23 miles.  .

Anne and Mick

The Last Ride: 21 July 2013 NCN2 – Palace Pier to Seaford

24 July 2013

Having volunteered a couple of months ago to do the ride on July 21st, when we knew we’d be around, we returned from holiday at the end of June to find an invitation to a 70th birthday party at lunch time that day. So, rather than let anyone down, we compromised by offering a half day ride with various options for the “missing” afternoon.


Thus, 7 of us set off from the Palace Pier at 10.20am, 3 more joined us at Rottingdean, that 3 left us at Newhaven to cycle back to Rottingdean for Smugglers songs on the terraces there & Mick & I scooted off post-haste to catch the 12.57 from Seaford to Brighton leaving 5 on the NCN2 seafront path to swim, picnic, cycle or train home.

DSC01264 - Copy

21st July is/was the centenary of the Walk for Women & our pier was the start for an epic re-enactment too. They were asked to try to wear bonnets & purple sashes as the suffragettes had done & a dozen or so of them had already assembled. The Brighton & Hove Labour banner was there as was Baroness Joyce Gould & Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas, who were to give speeches, plus local LP activists & Fabian secretary & walker, Maire McQueeney.
We started fairly promptly as Mick had his train times in mind. There was a rather unhelpful headwind & clear blue sky as we rode along the Brighton seafront track then the Underliff Walk, dismounting when told to do so by the signs at the Ovingdean Cafe. The path was clear of stones & we were happy that no-one got punctures. Nor was the path crowded at that relativlely early time on a Sunday am.

At Rottingdean Terraces in half an hour, we met Angela, Helen & Steve, the latter having driven down from the Midlands starting at 6am. Nothing much happening on the Terraces with their Smugglers Day yet, just a few stalls, so we didn’t explore them.
By the time we arrived at Saltdean, however, Steve realised that he’d left his backpack back at the terraces, with all his money etc, so dived back to retrieve, hopefully, while the rest of us filled water bottles or climbed up from the seafront to the clifftop at Saltdean. Just as David Jezeph had been at Chichester station, a few rides back, Steve was lucky & the back pack was retrieved. Same could not be said for me on our previous ride when I lost my bike pannier & its contents at Woods Mill Nature Reserve, never to be found, & sadly missed.


Pausing at the top of the hill by Telscombe Tye, Mick asked for volunteers to write the report but, as none were forthcoming, I said I’d do it, thinking it would be easy since I knew the ride & the ropes. However, that overlooked some struggles with Flickr on my imperfect photos. Hope others on the ride may have better pics.


We’d decided to take the Hoddern Farm Route as easier & therefore quicker & those who wished to see the more exciting Clifftop [foot] path could return by that way without our leadership. Having lifted all the bikes over the gate just after the farm, 2 vehicles came along & would have saved us the bother if they’d been earlier, or we’d been later.
I tried to take some pics of the views from the Hoddern Farm Road as I cycled but they weren’t much good except for this one of the Ouse.


The 21st was the Annual Lewes to Newhaven Raft Race, starting from Lewes at 11.30, but there was no sign of any of them yet. On our way home on the train a man from Newhaven lamented that the raft race had declined over the years & only about 7 rafts in it last year. From the train we saw a bridge full of expectant spectators & our co-passenger said it used to be fun water bombing the rafters as they passed below the bridges.


At Newhaven, Angela, Helen & Steve decided to say goodbye & return to Rottingdean for the sea shanties on the terraces.
We cycled through the nature reserve & I regretted not having the time to visit an Open Garden in the National Garden Scheme at Bishopstone. Had read that it was a national award winner & would have dearly loved to explore, but, no time to lose, as we saw the 12.27 Seaford train heading off to Lewes, knowing that we only had 30 minutes before the next one left & a few more miles to cycle.
The final entrance into Seaford has been much improved & now you can cycle all along the pavement on the right hand side of the road without having to tangle with the traffic on the road at all, as previously, jumping about from track to road & back to track again.

We left Rob, Julia, Corinne, Polly & Sue at 12.40 & hope they had a good afternoon. We raced to the station & spent a very warm, muggy afternoon at the party, having a much needed sea swim around 6pm.

The Next Ride: 21 July 2013: NCN2 – Palace Pier to Seaford

9 July 2013

Now that summer has finally arrived we propose a seaside route along the NCN2 to Seaford whence we hope the Westerly breeze wafts us for a picnic on the beach & a swim. On our previous foray on NCN2 we rushed off to Berwick station leaving or losing some at Seaford, so we shall reverse this by losing your leaders, as we have to catch a lunchtime train home from Seaford to attend a 70th birthday party.  You can take a train home from Seaford too, or return via Berwick, Newhaven  or cycle all the way home. If you forget the sarnies or prefer a pint there is the White Lion Pub & various cafes.

We’d like to start at 10.15 from the Palace Pier.  Having just checked to make sure there are no big events starting along the seafront then I see that Rottingdean has a Summer Smugglers Event on the stage on the seafront starting at 11am so we should arrive  amid the crowds, stalls & colourful display just about right to mingle. Enough time to recover before the short incline up to Telscombe Cliff & then onwards either via the Hoddern Farm Route or the exciting clifftop experience of the Newhaven entry. From Newhaven we have the very pleasant Ouse Valley Nature Reserve & Tidemills Trail:

In spring and summer the air is alive with the song of skylarks. More than a hundred types of bird have been recorded and the managers hope that the nationally threatened lapwing will return to breed on the specially managed areas.” 

Cycle Seahaven site promises that the final entry into Seaford has been improved too.


Start = Palace Pier at 10.15 a.m

Length = 15 miles approx.   30 if you cycle both ways.

Hills = Undulation  around  Saltdean but if the wind is prevailing Westerly you won’t even notice it, esp as the bus lane next to the NCN2 prevents car fumes reaching cyclists.

Terrain = Almost all good surface – unless we choose the clifftop experience which   is a footpath & may entail a bit of pushing, but worth it for the views.

Lunch = Picnic on beach or White Lion Hotel [pub] if unlucky with weather.

Trains = from Seaford at 27 & 57 mins past the hour to Brighton, taking 30-40mins.


The Next Ride: Sunday 18 November – Brighton to Berwick

5 November 2012

[Note: the previous posting has been amended as below]

We’ve pimped our ride east on the NCN2 to Berwick, which had to be cancelled earlier in the “summer” as headwinds of 20+mph & torrential rain rendered it impassable, unpleasant & virtually impossible, although we did turn up in case there were determined masochists among our readers.

We’ve found another modification which renders the stony, pot-holey, steep & almost unbikeable section from Peacehaven to Newhaven, delightful. Come and see.

We’ve booked The Ark at Newhaven again for around 12.15 as we have a tea garden tea stop for later. The Ark has a very good fishy menu, being next door to the fish market with harbour views.

Back on the track after lunch we revisit the Nature Reserve at Tidemills – traffic-free to Seaford sea-front. No hopes for a swim there this time, but chance to sample our lovely deviation at Seaford Head. A very short section on busy road then a left turn back to peace & outskirts of Friston Forest. Litlington Tea Gardens says it’s open in good weather up to Xmas so let’s hope we have some. If not, hot tea needed can be amply provided at Alfriston. From there the NCN2 is very signed, off-road in places & swift for access to the train station. Trains at 15.48 & 16.48, Londoners can change at Lewes.

Meet at 10.30 at Palace Pier. Hope to use Undercliff but will check out high tide & pebbly conditions, which, though dramatic, could damage tyres, not to mention give riders a good soaking.

Distance = 24miles. If too much can return via Seaford station.

Hills – undulations, but impressive views!

Trains – 15.48 & 16.48 from Berwick. Stations at Newhaven & Seaford for early returners. or drop-outs.

Let’s hope the prevailing west wind prevails on Nov 18th & wings us on our way.


The Next Ride: Brighton to Berwick – 23 September 2012

11 September 2012

We plan to do the NCN2 Palace Pier to Berwick that Mick led last year, but to do it differently.

Starting at 10.30 we’ll cycle along the Undercliff  Walk to Saltdean. Taking the tunnel under the A259, we can yodel or practice chants for the next big demo – could be Oct 20th, or sooner. Back on the sea side of the road via the crossing there are some soaring undulations, then an alteration from last year, when Mick said you went by the cliff path. We will stick to the official NCN2 route & cross back to the Downs side, following the quiet roads above Peacehaven & enjoying the views.

When the NCN leads back to the A259, we cross at the pelican crossing. Mick will lead the clifftop  adventure, with exciting views of sea & cliffs.  For those subject to vertigo, or of a nervous disposition, I can lead us on the official NCN route. There is an alpaca on this path/track/road[!}but  I don’t always see it, though locals have told me it comes to a call. Road is rough & stony but we can easily walk & push.

We can descend into Newhaven via their super new Tideway school.  Clifftop party will descend via the country park and we’ll all meet up for lunch at The Ark pub by the harbour, which specialises in local fish dishes but has a varied, tasty menu. We’ve booked for 12.30 & hope to leave by 1.30pm.

We’ll soon be in the Tidemills Country Park & on the peaceful off-road track, among the birds & wild flowers. We doubt that there will be time for a swim at Seaford, not if we want tea at Littlington Tea Gardens, anyway, but those so minded, can bring kit & hope.

We’ll take our favourite detour from NCN2 after Seaford & enjoy the peace of the Cuckmere Haven [foot]path, instead of joining the hurtling cars on the A259. Unfortunately, we do have to join the road for a few minutes, before we turn left at Friston Forest & head Up[only a bit] to Littlington Tea Garden & some refreshing tea & flowers.[or cakes].

Left a bit towards Alfriston, but no entry for us as we’ve tried all/some teashops there & they are too small. So we head to Berwick station, passing by Drusillas, crossing the A27 at the bike crossing & then on dedicated track next to the country road.  Trains are at 16.48,17.48 & even 15.48. Any Londoners can change at Lewes for direct train.


Meet at the Palace Pier at 10:30 am
Hills: Yes, there are a few, but prevailing W[esp. SW], helps & no need to dismount, though there are some rough patches between Peacehaven & Newhaven, unbefitting to a national cycle network, but picturesque.
Length: 23miles.
If weather is unkind we can return via Seaford station.