The Last Ride: Sunday 1st June 2014 Hassocks – Plumpton – Wivelsfield

3 June 2014

The first day of June brought blue skies, sunshine and a near record number of Clarion cyclists to Hassocks station: Angela, Angelica, Ann, Chris (on his first Clarion ride), Corinne, Fred, Helen (our leader), Ian, Jenny, Martin (also a first timer), Mick, Nick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue and Tessa.

Hassocks start

Fred was riding his most recently acquired bike – an electrically assisted machine on its first Clarion outing. Just as we were setting off he discovered a fault, not anything that a simple twist of a spanner could solve, but a split in a place where splits definitely shouldn’t be. So he had to abandon us and jump on the train back to Brighton – tough luck Fred! [A mechanical problem – The bottom bracket had worked loose! – Fred]

June 1, 2014: Hassocks - Wivelsfield – Plumpton

So sixteen of us sped up and down the country lanes to Plumpton. Here we discovered that Nick had left us for another engagement. Meanwhile Jane joined us for the last few miles to the Cock Inn at Wivelsfield Green, where the prompt service, well prepared food and re-arrangeable garden seating were all much appreciated.


On to Ditchling where our leader presented us with a choice:

  1. a visit to the museum
  2. or a visit to Oldland Mill where, it was rumoured, tea and cakes could be had for a reasonable price
  3. or both!

After due deliberation the vote was in favour of number 2, even though Helen had warned us that getting to the mill would involve a hill.


I don’t think she mentioned the muddy track which came after the hill. So I won’t mention it either, except to say that most people wisely walked, slipped and scrambled along it, rather than trying to ride.

Once we emerged from the mud, we found that the rumours about tea and cakes were true, and it was possible for those with any strength left in their legs to climb up into the mill and learn about its inner workings.

Many thanks to Helen for a great day out!


[More photos at Flickr]

The Last Ride: Sunday 9 February 2014 Hassocks – Plumpton – Hassocks

11 February 2014

Minor crisis at the station: – realised I had left my pannier on the steps in front of my door… Oh well! The sun was shining so on to the train. No other Clarionet on the train but our leader Leon and Julian were there waiting at Hassocks. We waited for a bit longer, and just as we were about to go David, who was waiting at the other station entrance, phoned – then we were four…

Brighton & Hove Clarion cycle ride 09-02-2014

Off we cycled into, given recent weather, an unbelievably sunny bright morning. Yes there was a wind but it was behind us, so the ride to the restaurant was idyllic. That bright light, the roads smooth and remarkably dry, through Keymer, Ditchling, down the lovely long sweep of Spatham Lane and finally up the only real hill to the Half Moon. Whether it was the sun – or maybe it was “Be kind to cyclists” day or something, but we were surprised by at least two motorists who slowed down and waited patiently for us to pass on the way.

By now full of the joys of (nearly) Spring and feeling that we should celebrate the Clarion’s ten years (not certain it was the 9th but this was the first ride in the anniversary month), we tucked into delicious meals :- Roast dinner with Falafel for Leon, Sea Bass for David, which he said was excellent, Cod, Chips and Mushy peas for Julian and Wild Mushroom and Spinach Tagliatelle for me – all delicious.

1 ½ hours passed eating and in wide-ranging discussion, which went from nature walks, where Red Kites are to be found, to the intricacies of the situation in Thailand, clarified for us by David who had just spent time there and who knows past and present history very well. It was enlightening to hear how limited and locked within a particular world view media comment on the present situation is and how even reporters based on the ground have a limited understanding of the situation.

But finally we had to leave the Half Moon, by now it was cloudier and this time we had the wind (which had got stronger) in our faces. Happily it was only 4 miles to the station. The others valiantly faced the wind, and the fact that this first part had the only hills. For me the combination of a heavier, albeit delicious meal than I usually have on rides, the now very heavy gusts and legs aching through lack of practice meant that, grateful for their patience, I walked up most of the “inclines”. But, it did not last long – we turned into a lane more protected from the wind and were soon enjoying our final treat to finish the day: coffee and goodies at Costa’s in Hassocks. There too we spent much time on putting the world to rights – or bemoaning that it was not to rights, before heading home.

The fates or luck had favoured us, giving us a rare sunny morning and, other than a very fleeting show of hail, a day with no rain – (Arriving home, as I put my key in the door – the rain started – what timing ! – ( and by the way my pannier was still there…)

Thanks to Leon for his optimism in disregarding the weather forecasts and for giving us a great ride.


The Last Ride: Sunday 26 May 2013 – Hassocks Circular

3 June 2013

This was a stunningly pretty ride at a time of year when the Sussex lanes and countryside possibly look at their best. We had wonderful weather, bright sunshine with a light breeze, perfect for a bike ride.

Pictorial map at Hassocks station;never had time to notice it before, but it looks worth searching for in local shops.DSC00850

Eleven of us set out from  Hassocks, Helen and I having come by car and Ian, Leon, Joyce, Corinne, Mick, Ann, Roger, Julia and David arriving by train.  But we became twelve in Underhill Lane when a smiling man cycled towards us and asked if we were the Clarion Riders. This was Rob and we were very pleased to welcome a new rider.

At the windmill[left],with Downs on right;Helen in centre.By Anne.DSC00847

So, off we rode towards Westmeston Church, turning left at Streat Lane and at this time of year the lanes are laced with cow parsley and a smattering of bluebells. Along the route we met many walkers who looked unbelievably exhausted and we could not believe that they had walked through the night and the day before, walking 100k, yes, you read it correctly, for various charities. We were astounded by their motivation and commitment.

After a couple of miles we arrived at The Plough at Plumpton Green for a little ‘drinking’ stop, to hear music blaring out from an adjacent field. On investigation, it appeared that it was a 150th birthday party! Well, not quite. Three people were celebrating their 50th birthdays at the same time!

Sunny Sunday for Helen's Hassocks Circular,nr the end. By Anne.DSC00849

Then on we cycled through such pretty lanes until we reached the pub at Wivelsfield Green to have lunch [The Cock Inn]. Everyone seemed to really like this pub. The food was really good and it was very reasonably priced.


After lunch we cycled up and down One Hundred Acre Lane and Spatham Lane, which were as lovely as the lanes before, and we arrived in Ditchling. At this point, Joyce, Ian, Corinne and Julia decided to go straight back to Hassocks Station. The rest of the group stopped for tea in Ditchling before proceeding up to Oldland Mill. The view from the mill is stunning. It is a feast for the eyes. Next year we were thinking it would be great to do this ride again but to organise it at a time it when the tea shop at the mill is open.

Near Hassocks on the last section of Helen's ride.

From the Mill, it was not far back to the station at Hassocks. Thank you, Helen, for planning and organising such a lovely and memorable ride.


The Next Ride: Sunday May 26th

15 May 2013

“Bluebells and Windmills”: Hassocks and Wivelsfield Green Circular

c 20 miles fairly flat,quiet pretty country lanes

We ride out from Hassocks via Lodge Lane,  take Underhill Lane to Westmeston,  Streat, and Plumpton. Lunch c 1pm The Cock Inn Wivelsfield Green.

Return via  Hundred Acre Lane, Spatham lane and hopefully catch the last of the bluebells. Tea in Ditchling or for the more adventurous, the option of visiting Oldland Mill and the possibility of tea there before returning to Hassocks station late pm . trains 05 and 36 past the hour to Brighton.

Catch the 09.45  (arr 09.54) or  10.15  from Brighton station  or meet at Hassocks station at 10.24.  Return trains at 05 and 36 minutes past the hour

For more details, or suggestion for an alternative meeting place for those coming by car, contact Helen 07890281112


The Last Ride – Angela’s Report: Sunday 24 February: Hassocks to Lewes

27 February 2013

On a very cold day, Clarion riders bravely set off from Hassocks.

Tessa and Jim ‘demonstrating’ the meaning of the road sign!

At the Plough Inn near Plumpton we stopped to look at the memorial to the Polish airmen who were killed in WW2.

A coffee stop at the Fountain Inn, Plumpton Green, to warm up.

Between Plumpton and Cooksbridge, this track was rather crackly!

Two girls with their horses all dressed up for the cold weather.

Ann and Mick enjoying lunch at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes where our ride ended.

Thanks to Sue and Tessa for organising a lovely ride. The winter landscape was beautiful and we had a fun time.

The Last Ride: Sunday 8 January 2012 – Hassocks to Lewes via coffee

10 January 2012

Twelve cyclists met at Hassocks and set off eastwards under grey skies on dry roads. They were Angela, Anne, Corinne, Leon, Mick, Richard, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue (our leader), Suzanne, and Tessa. “No Joyce today?” someone queried – apparently not.

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

The skies stayed grey (mostly) and the roads stayed dry thanks to Sue’s policy of avoiding possibly muddy off-road options. As we approached Plumpton we stopped at The Plough to view the war memorial in memory of wartime fighter pilots. This prompted some sombre reflections on sacrifice and bravery.

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

Sean lives in Plumpton so he suggested that we stop at his house for mid-morning refreshment. We arrived to find a blazing wood fire and Jane waiting with everything ready in the kitchen to serve mugs of tea and coffee with chocolate biscuits. Jane then jumped on her bike and we were thirteen.

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

The nearest we got to any off-road conditions was the concrete farm road which took us out of Plumpton. Halfway along we came into a stable yard. We stopped for a brief chat with the ladies cleaning out the stables who reminded us to be aware of horse riders on the narrow lanes – a quiet word of greeting as you come up behind does a lot to calm a horse and prevent any nasty surprises.

On to Cooksbridge, up to Offham and then down into Lewes on one of those wonderful descents which requires little or no pedalling, little or no braking and has little or no traffic (apart from one slightly troublesome Jaguar).

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

The ride ended at The John Harvey Tavern where we found a table for twelve set for us in an upstairs room. A thirteenth chair was quickly found, and a fourteenth, just in case. Leon then set off to find someone to fill it, returning in next to no time with … Joyce. She had missed us by minutes at Hassocks and then made her way to Lewes station. When asked by your correspondent for an official explanation of these strange manoeuvres she declined to comment.

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

We were all soon tucking into a varied range of hot meals and the conversations buzzed around the table. Most then set off for the station and an easy train ride back to Brighton. Mick, encouraged no doubt by his curry and the late afternoon sun, opted for the A27 cycle path.

B&H Clarion ride 08-01-2012

Many thanks to Sue for a well-planned and skilfully managed ride, and to Jane and Sean for their generous hospitality!


[More photos on Flickr]

The last ride: Sunday 24 July 2011- Plumpton circular

26 July 2011

Whenever I am invited or persuaded to write a ride report I hear the words of a good friend who once offered me this advice “Keep it simple, stupid”. (Thank you Rupert.)

On this occasion I’m finding it difficult to heed his good advice.

As a prelude to this Sunday, the weather had been, to put it bluntly, bloody awful and I began to think that I had made a bloomer in inviting any Clarion member to join me at Hassocks station to ride the five miles to Plumpton station. As Sunday crept near I had received no takers and was wondering if I would be cycling to Plumpton alone.

I am very pleased to report that Joyce decided to take my offer. I waited at Hassocks station for only a few minutes for the 9.53 to arrive with Joyce on board.

B&H Clarion Ride 24-07-2011.

Leaving Hassocks and heading to Plumpton in glorious sunshine, we sped along through Ditchling and onto the stony track through Streat and on to Plumpton, arriving at the station by 10.30. We were soon joined by Rob who sat himself down on the downside platform, Joyce and I were waiting on the up-side to meet the Lewes train hopefully full of eager riders. The London train crawled into Plumpton depositing Jim, TJ, Joan and Richard. Angela arrived by car and Jenny, our leader cycled from Cooksbridge near Lewes.

2. Chailey Common

The group of nine were busy with greetings and happy talk for several minutes before I took the start of ride group photo. Moments later we were on our way but only a few yards up the road we all stopped at a village shop for the odd items that we needed to continue our journey. Off again to Plumpton Green and the Plough PH to view the War Memorial and admire a splendid campsite with some lightweight campers, that started another topic about cycle-camping and some very good memories of friends that TJ, Joan and I share. (The Association of Lightweight Campers.)

1. Leon photographing the war memorial

Back in the saddle and up to the windmill and St. George’s at Chailey Common where we spent some time looking at the wonderful buildings and the windmill that was not open today.

5. Angela and the Windmill

A very pleasant ride through the common and out onto the A275 for a short distance to Warrs Hill Lane where shortly after I received a gift from the road in my rear tyre.

6. Leon's Puncture

The call went out loud and clear “Puncture” and all came to a standstill while I popped the wheel out and removed the tyre and tube. A flint was removed and a new inner tube inserted and back on the road. Speeding along Butterbox Lane and Sloop Lane, no the tide never came up this far, it’s named after The Sloop Inn.

Passing under the Bluebell Railway with a beautiful steam loco pulling many old coaches, no time for a photo, it happened too quick. [Note from Jim: Not too quick for me … but my stupid auto-focus camera focussed on the hedge, with the train a blur in the background!]

13. Fletching

Next down Ketch’s Lane and crossing the A275 at Sheffield Green and onto Fletching High Street where we stopped for lunch at the Rose and Crown PH. Nine happy cyclists enjoyed good food and warm sunshine in the garden at the back of the pub. After eating, drinking and chatting I repaired my punctured inner tube.

10. Mending the Tube

When it was time to depart, Joan and TJ left the main group to head up to Sheffied Park to catch a train to Kingscott station and a short ride to East Grinstead to join the main line home. We were ready to ride on, through one of the most wonderful villages I have seen, not just in Sussex but in the whole of the UK. I speak of Fletching, worthy of a second visit when more time is available.

On to Jackies Lane and Oxbottom and Cinder Hill and again the A275 where seven of us spent a pleasant hour having tea at The Horns Lodge PH.

B&H Clarion Ride 24-07-2011.

Now as if one puncture was not enough, fate struck a blow at Richard who was quietly riding along enjoying the tranquillity of time, space and everything, when suddenly a very strange noise accompanied a flat tyre. The noise woke me from my blissful thoughts and all came to another halt. Richard quickly up-ended his bike to remove the rear wheel and tyre, only to find a gathering of anxious faces closely watching.

14. Richard's Puncture

Everyone wanted to help, I took the tyre to look for the offending object, only to discover a tear in the sidewall of the tyre. A brake block had been poorly set and had been leaving its fatal cut into the side of the tyre. There was nothing we were equipped with to make a repair*, so in went a new tube and fingers crossed we headed on the final run back to Plumpton.

While heading down Honeypot Lane I decided that my best route back to Hassocks was to leave the group at the junction with Novington Lane and head back up to Plumpton Green and Hassocks via Ditchling Common.

Farewell my friends, it’s great to see smiling faces and hands waving in friendship when we part. My journey back found me riding with a young father with two young children cycling home after their cycle outing. I hope the Clarion group had a safe final section to Plumpton. I am sure that despite two little problems on the road we all enjoyed a great day. Thank you Jenny, your ride was wonderful.


* In retrospect, I did have some Gaffa tape in my repair bag. This could be used over the bead and the inside of the tyre to make a simple ‘get you home’ repair.

[Many more photos on Flickr]

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 July 2011 – Plumpton circular

11 July 2011

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

25 miles with shorter options, some hilly bits

Meet at Plumpton station at 10.45 (there are two options for trains, see below). We’ll head north to Chailey Common, where we go off-roading for a short distance on what should be good dry tracks this time of year (if not we can use the main road). We can stop to admire the windmill, also St George’s, an interesting 1930s building complex that was once part of Chailey Heritage.

Some people might like to peel off soon after and take a shortcut to the lunch pub in Fletching for extra beer-consuming time, but the route is rather hilly and could involve some walking. Otherwise we’ll continue to Ketches Lane, which we’ve used in the past, crossing the A275 at the Elephant Trading Post and heading into Fletching and the Rose and Crown for lunch. There are one or two minor undulations on the way. If anyone prefers to bring a picnic there’s bound to be somewhere in Fletching for that.

After lunch there are two options for the ride to the tea stop: a 5-mile short version and a 10-mile, er, longer version. If we split into two groups I can give the leader of the short-version group a route sheet to follow. Tea will be at the Horn’s Lodge, a pub in south Chailey. They can serve us tea and coffee, but will not have any food available mid-afternoon. However they have said they don’t mind us discreetly eating our own cake in the garden – so BRING CAKE if you want some!

From the Horn’s Lodge it’s only about 2½ miles back to Plumpton station, unless any racy people want to avoid a bumpy concrete farm track, which adds a mile or so.

There are two options if there are lots of you (I’ll be cycling to Plumpton):

(1) From Brighton, catch the 9.29 & change at Lewes for Plumpton, BUT there is a half-hour wait at Lewes (and sadly the marvellously eccentric Runaway Café isn’t open on Sundays yet).

(2) From Brighton, catch the 10.00 & change at Wivelsfield, arriving at Plumpton at 10.40.

There’s plenty of free car parking at Plumpton, and of course it’s possible to cycle from Brighton and enjoy hurtling down the Beacon road on the way.

I’m looking forward to seeing people again, as it’s been ages since I’ve been able to Clarion it!


Leon adds:
BOOTS, some members may not know Wivelsfield railway station. Jenny suggested that Wivelsfield station may be a useful alternative to Lewes station as a connection to the Plumpton line. Members should be aware that there are many steps to carry your cycle down, and back up to the southbound platform.

May I suggest another route to Plumpton via Hassocks station and a cycle ride through Keymer – Ditchling – Streat – Plumpton, distance of about four and a half miles, includes two miles of safe, but a little bumpy, off road track. If the weather is good I will be available to guide members on this route to Plumpton. Please contact me if you want to join me. Many thanks,

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