The Last Ride: Sunday 16 April (Easter Sunday) 2017 – Polegate circular via Herstmonceux

26 April 2017

Four optimistic Clarionistas turned up at the station in defiance of weather warnings about rain (first due at 1pm and then 4 pm). We were :- Julian ( of course), Prudence, Julia, Joyce. Julian’s ride description is so detailed I don’t have the task of reporting the detail, so suffice it to say that this was a lovely ride – the more so because Julian had arranged so many peaceful lanes and quiet minor roads on an Easter Sunday … We had the pleasure of the Pevensey Levels on a clear sunny day and on to the area identified as Horse eye Level and to New Bridge, where we rode almost alone between two tranquil peaceful canals. Here it was so pleasant and calm with lovely views that we decided to have elevenses with part of our “picnic lunch”, (although I managed to eat all of mine).

Onwards then again along quiet roads with some manageable undulations to the A271 where for a short while we encountered speedy cars, but there was a cycle track alongside. Down then into Herstmonceux and to the Woolpack Inn in the hope that we might find some refreshments despite the Woolpack not serving food. But first we had to inspect what Julia found round the back, she was delighted to come across a telescope/binoculars which had been abandoned in the waste area. As a bird lover she was already planning the usages she could make of them. But alas when we enquired in the pub a kind man and his son assured us that it was damaged. But the good news was that we were able to get cups of tea and a coffee with a very nice comfortable table to eat our picnic lunches, just as well because Julian had done himself proud with a full scale lunch, ( I was very happy with just my cup of tea and declined the many offers of food). To add to the pleasure – no sign of that 1 pm rain, still a pleasant sunny day.

We spent a leisurely hour or so in conversation ranging from the low and humble (dog fouling, barbeques) to complex issues such as why we have the names we do, leading to identity and much else..

The next stage was back to the Cuckoo Trail via Hailsham and a downward route to The Loom cafe where we fell on the toasted tea cakes and for Julian ( of course) a “Rocky Road” of chocolate marshmallow and nuts. Such was our relaxed state of mind that we had to race back to the station for our train, arriving just in time to see Prudence in front sailing across just before the barrier came down. Well done Pru… Hey Ho once on the station we learned that the next Brighton train was cancelled … But still no rain and refusing to lose the pleasure of the day and thanks to Julian’s “App” we found a route via Lewes for Brighton and home which worked and got us to Brighton and STILL NO RAIN !

Thanks to Julian for a lovely ride.

Joyce


The Last Ride: Sunday 21 August 2016 – Pevensey Levels To Herstmonceux

24 August 2016

Julian, Angela and Sean took the train from Brighton with Sue and Chris boarding in Lewes. Chris (from Patcham) met us in Polegate and we waited for Mick and Ann who had driven to our lunch stop and then cycled to the start of the ride.

Julian led us onto the Cuckoo Trail for a few yards, turning right to cycle along a tree-lined path and over the bridge spanning the by-pass.

The weather was overcast but warm and pleasant. The West wind hit us sideways as we crossed the Pevensey Levels but did not deter our progress. In the afternoon the sun came out, and the wind veered to South-West, becoming strong enough to render our decision to return via the sheltered Cuckoo Trail a wise one.

A back-stop was appointed but unfortunately was not familiar with the route and we were half-way across our reed-lined route when we discovered three of our number were missing. Mick cycled back to search for them. They had missed a turning off the road to Hankham but fortunately realised their mistake and retraced their steps and were soon reunited with the help of Mick’s guidance.

We reached the nursery at Lyme Cross in good time for lunch which was homemade and delicious. The service was friendly and helpful but as we had a long wait for food to arrive a long conversation ensued. One table of 6 people covered the topics of ‘fathers for justice’, Charles Manson, The Archers, the KGB and mind-control techniques, abusive relationships generally, cannibalism, Neo-Liberalism vs Anarchy, books on economics were recommended e.g. Ha-Joon Chang’s book 20 Things They Didn’t Tell you About Capitalism. And both tables spoke of Brexit!

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

The Manageress came over and offered us free drinks for having the long wait for food, and we didn’t have to wait quite so long for these to arrive! We decided that this was a Cycle-Friendly eatery and would like to send them one of the Clarion stickers informing visitors of that fact. Anyone got a spare sticker?

Big Chris

Oh, and on the way, Big Chris, who had arrived on his retro 1980 Dawes Galaxy wearing a 1970s? outfit complete with flat cap and knitted tank top, shared his experience of informing the authorities (county council officials) about footpaths and bridleways that needed attention e.g. signs missing, inappropriately diverted by local inhabitants, impassable etc. We can all contribute to improving the situation in this way.

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

After lunch Mick and Ann drove off and we had an uneventful ride down the Cuckoo Trail to tea at the Loom Mill café. Some discussion of trying out the Cuckoo’s Nest café further on but we left that for another occasion.

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

Patcham Chris left us at Polegate to drive back and the rest of us boarded a crowded train to return home happy and tired after a lovely day out.

Thank you Julian.

Sikka


The Last Ride: Sunday 17 May 2015 – Boots, Bluebells, Birds and Spurs

20 May 2015

Sunny day & bumper tally of eighteen at Polegate station & I’ll now attempt the roll call. Sue of Lewes [rather than Sikka] was our leader & had planned a brilliant mid-May ride. Quite a late start as she had to deal with her horses first, so by noon, Chris, her partner & Chris from Patcham, David Jezeph, from Shoreham & Dave, who’s a CTC trained ride leader, Roger & Susanne, Sue [Sikka], Sean & Jane, Jane, who’s a friend of Sue & Chris from Lewes, Julian, Corinne, Julia, Leon & Joyce, Nick & me makes 18, so hope no-one is missed out.

No photos of the station start as we had hopes of pics at Arlington Tea Gardens coffee stop. We trouped onto the Cuckoo Trail & turned left after the bridge over the busy motorway. The trail turned into a bridleway complete with horses,

DSC00308

through the woods & path was, fortunately, not too muddy. In fact it was filled with millions of bluebells & undulated through delightful woods until we reached the tea gardens. Due to the late hour & some hungry tums Sue took a vote on whether or not to stop at the Tea Gardens & it was almost even, but glad the stoppers won!

May 17, 2015: Arlington Figure 8

Arlington Tea Gardens was a joy & a treat & real find for most of us. We had to split up though into 3 or 4 tables for our refreshments, so not sure if there will be a group photo. There were plants for sale at good value prices & would have liked to buy some; glad to see Corinne festooned with tomato plants decorating her paniers afterwards. There were quail eggs for sale too & charming fluffy chicks & their parents to admire, as well as an exotic golden pheasant & his less colourful mate in another enclosure. There was even a [wooden/spoiler] koala bear to see looking down at us from a eucalyptus tree. Food looked good too with vast array of cakes, veg soups [2], & fine fayre for all, but we [mostly] stuck to the liquid refreshments, although there may have been some scones, cream & jam consumed by those who knew the gardens & didn’t need to explore.

We left there around 1pm but still had many miles to go before the lunch stop at Arlington – all most pleasant. Most were able to sit on the very long picnic table at the reservoir & eat our picnics, while listening to the birdsong, chattering & quacking. Julian identified the species; reed warblers, while others explored the area. Some food was shared around & Sue [Sikka] had made some tasty flapjacks for us all. It is [was] her birthday today [18th] so we sang Happy Birthday, along with the bird chorus. By the way I would recommend a Radio 4 programme from last week on Birdsong & linguistics; “What the Songbird Said” to anyone interested in neuro-linguistics, Profs. Chomsky & Miyagawa and/or birds. Julian also told me that we heard “en route many chiffchaffs, robins, wrens and blackcaps”.

May 17, 2015: Arlington Figure 8

Discussion on the grassy knoll next to the picnic table was an inquest into why Labour lost the General Election 10 days ago & thus we are stuck with another 5 years of austerity, cuts, destruction & despair.

May 17, 2015: Arlington Figure 8

At 3pm it was time to move on & the job of shepherding 18 cyclists back onto the road, then along the woodland trails replete with bluebells & devoid of cars resumed. All went fine for 5 miles or so, then, as we were about to enter another lovely wood from a quiet road, David’s bike unfortunately fell into a large pothole tipping him off into the road. He said he was fine & remounted & rode again. But not for very long as the chain & derailleurs were damaged. Dave was backstop & I stayed with the two of them, as did Suzanne. It seemed as though David would be able to proceed & 1st Suzanne & then, eventually, I, resumed the ride, expecting David & Dave to follow. I couldn’t see Suzanne in front of me, but soon Chris headed towards me, having come back to look for stragglers. He told me to carry on the path & then turn left at the T-junction [at least that is what I thought he said], so I did. Back on a quiet road again with the usual charming cottages alongside was pleased to find Dave catching up with me & even more pleased that he said he thought he’d seen someone else ahead of me. He explained that Chris had decided that David’s bike was beyond repair & that he would cycle back & fetch his car to take David & his bike back to Polegate. Sue would phone Dave to report on progress of the both sections of riders. We emerged at a big roundabout at Upper Dicker & tried 2 A roads both up & down in search of the elusive Cuckoo Trail & direction home. The A22 section was particularly hairy as white van man raced past us giving us both close shaves, even though we were in the gutter already! After less than a mile we were able to turn off into Hailsham, but even here, we had a few ups & downs both before, & after, finding the Cuckoo. Passers-by frequently giving the wrong directions & cycle route signage not being helpful enough [or invisible].

DSC00309

As I approached the station, relief at hand, I told Dave I was going to race ahead to cross the level crossing before barriers prevented access to Brighton trains & expected him to follow me. I reached the right platform just as a train pulled in & met Roger & Suzanne who urged me to alight, as did the guard, but I thought I ought to wait for Dave whom I assumed was taking the Brighton train too. So the train pulled out & I went out to look for Dave. He had been to the car-park looking for David, Chris & Sue, but could see none of them, so, after conferring, & explaining that his car was parked down the road at Polegate, not down the road from Brighton station, I went back to the bench on the station platform & awaited the Brighton train, eating the remnants of my picnic lunch in the May sunshine. I phoned David when I arrived home & he was OK although his bike needs repair. Roger phoned me in the morning & explained what had happened at the front, with Sue trying to phone both ends of the ride, but not having connections. David had told me that Chris had raced back to his car & fallen off in the woods in the mud, so that was very unfortunate too. Sue said we would do 18 miles, Julian told me his Garmin said they did 22 miles & I reckon Dave and I must have done another 8, making a round 30, but all of them were enjoyable, some more adventurous/challenging than others & I thanks Sue & Chris for providing a wonderful Mid-May ride for 18 fortunate Clarion Riders.

Anne


The Last Ride: Sunday 22 March 2015 – Polegate to Birling Gap

25 March 2015

An overcast and cool spring morning attracted 17 cyclists to Jim’s ‘Polegate to Birling Gap (and back)’ ride. A relatively short route of 14 miles took us through Wannock, Filching, Jevington, Friston and a private residential road through the exclusively posh residences of East Dean.

The start at Polegate

The seventeen gathered at Polegate station for Jim’s ride were: Jim, Nick, Joyce, Leon, Anne, Mick, Angela, Sikka, Tessa, Richard, Delia, Rob, Fred, Julian, Roger and David.

Broken brake

[After the usual palavers when 17 cyclists with disparate bikes & journeys to the start point – ie Joyce’s missing gloves & Delia’s catching front brakes, plus having the group photo taken by a volunteer passer-by – we set out South over the level-crossing & past the traffic lights. Delia’s brakes had been examined by our best bike mechanics after their bashing in her car boot. Rob said she shouldn’t ride it as brakes were unsafe, but she decided to give it a go & tackled the hills easily. It wasn’t until after lunch at The Tiger that Jim, our leader, managed to fix the brake problem properly & she was grateful. – Anne]

Through the gates

The seventeen braced themselves for the unrelentingly steep hill leading out of Polegate towards Wannock and Filching. After completing the arduous climb in the lowest gears possible, we reaching the summit near Jevington and took the A259 for most of the route to the Tiger Inn lunch stop.

Top of the hill

The Tiger Inn was busy, so some of the group opted for lunch in the Hikers’ Rest cafe instead. Back in the pub, chips were being served in trendy metal buckets and Fred’s cauliflower soup was presented with a crouton floating like an island in the centre of the bowl. I was quite surprised to have my grated cheese and tomato baguette handed to me wrapped in cellophane without a plate, but perhaps they thought I was taking the food away with me. Apologies to the Tiger Inn staff for the specks of grated cheese I left behind at my table.

Lunch inside the Tiger

After lunch, we wandered over to the unofficial ‘Sherlock Holmes lived here’ blue plaque and marvelled at Jim’s bike maintenance skills as he mended Delia’s faulty front brake. Leon, Joyce, John, Delia and Mick (rather impressively cycling all the way back to Brighton!) took a left turn after leaving the Tiger Inn. For the rest of us, a right turn out of the pub led us down to the nearby Birling Gap.

Jim'll fix it!

We had just finished lunch so didn’t stop for a cup of tea in the Birling Gap cafe, but did stop to look at views of the Seven Sisters and a house built seemingly precariously close to the cliff. The sun even came out for a while during our brief stay there. Perhaps a pity we didn’t have time for a cup of tea in the Birling Gap cafe, which seems to have improved greatly since the National Trust took over ownership.

Birling Gap

Birling Gap

After leaving Birling Gap, the plan was to have a cup of tea in the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre. Unlike Washbrook Farm during our ride two weeks ago, there was no option to drink tea without paying a £6 admission fee. We all agreed this was an unnecessary expense and decided to try the Eight Bells pub for an afternoon cuppa instead. David, Anne, Angela and Jim stuck with the afternoon cuppa option in the pub, while the rest of us cycled back to Polegate to head back on a packed train to Brighton. I bumped into Jim later in the evening at a comedy benefit in Brighton, but forgot to ask him about the Eight Bells afternoon tea experience. Hopefully photos of the tea and cake break will appear on the Clarion Flickr site soon.

Nick, with additional reporting by Anne.

The Eight Bells

Afternoon Tea at the Eight Bells

[Many more photos – including close-ups of food – on Flickr]

Delia adds: I cycled the whole route from Polegate to Birling Gap and back. My brakes were fixed at the start and I was one of the front riders up THE hill. I would have liked a mention for being one of those achieving the HILL. I didn’t meet everyone on the ride as we were split for lunch so perhaps the writer of the report didn’t know who I was – I don’t think there was another Delia!

Leon adds: The four of us set off from the Tiger public house after our fond farewells to the group. We walked up a steep pathway along the side of a very dangerous section of the A259.

At the top with a ‘T’ junction Rob left us to ride back to Heathfield via Polegate, while Mick and John sped off to Brighton. Joyce and Leon cycled along the A259 to the Cuckmere Haven where we left the main road and spent a very pleasant half hour cycling the National Cycle Route 2 along the river Cuckmere and over the downs to Seaford where we got the train back to Brighton.


The Next Ride: Sunday 22 March 2015 – Polegate to Birling Gap (and back again)

11 March 2015

This ride was motivated mainly by the fact that we haven’t done it before (but correct me if I’m wrong, which I may well be).

Anyway it’s a nice short ride along a fairly minor road with a few ups and downs. We can walk up the ups and sail down the downs. On the way we’ll go through Wannock, Filching, Jevington, Friston and East Dean. The latter is a bit posh, I’m afraid, but hopefully they won’t mind us riding through their opulent private estate to escape the fury of the A259.

Lunch will be at the Tiger pub at East Dean at about 12.15. They don’t actually take bookings for Sunday lunchtimes but reckon we will be OK. And they are happy for me to ring them when we start and remind them we’re coming. It is a fairly early lunch slot, and it isn’t Mothers’ Day, so there should not be a problem.

Then it’s a short ride to Birling Gap where we can wander about a bit, perhaps have a cup of tea, but it probably won’t be warm enough for a dip!

On the way back – the same way, I’m afraid, there really is no alternative – we can pop in at the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre if we fancy it – there may be lambs.

Practicalities:

Length: about 14 miles.

Duration: about 4½ hours, including lunch and pottering-about time.

Start at Polegate Station at about 11:00.

Trains: The good old 10:20 from Brighton will get us there on time; as usual I will probably take the earlier train, possibly the 9:42 which seems to be an extra train. I’m afraid it’s not a good day to be travelling from London as there are buses on the way. Really dedicated Londoners can get there via London Bridge and Hastings, but bring a fat book to read on the way!

Return trains from Polegate to Brighton at 6 and 42 minutes past the hour.

Jim.


The Last Ride: Sunday 16 November 2014: Polegate – Hailsham – Hurstmonceux – Rickney – Polegate

18 November 2014

Devised by Sikka and Tessa

At Brighton Station, despite the rain forecasts, Adam, Chris, David, Fred, Julian, Mick, Sikka, Terry and Tessa boarded the 10.22 train to Eastbourne and got off at Polegate where Rob joined us.  Anne and had missed the train due to a puncture and only caught up with us after lunch.

The start at Polegate station, minus Rob and Anne (Fred took the picture)

Fred corralled us to take the group photo, and then persuaded a passing lady to take another to include him [and Rob], whom he told off when her two shots were blank. To his embarrassment, he realised after a while that the battery needed changing. We were soon going northerly up the Cuckoo Trail (NCN 21) often for 25 minutes falling behind a young couple running ahead, her knee-length socks an astonishingly bright yellow. Many dog lovers and grandparents with grandchildren had to give way as we streamed past and when occasional rapid transit cyclists raced by. After going through the middle of Hailsham, where two sampled fallen apples, and having covered about five miles, we turned east off the Trail and then northeast to Cowbeech for a longish uphill climb when irritatingly we could hear the purr of Fred’s electric-powered bike as our leg muscles cried for mercy.

Leaving the Cuckoo Trail

Down we went through Stunts Green and Herstmonceux village and briefly along the A271 to the Lime Cross Nursery for lunch, with nine miles clocked up by 12.20. They kindly reorganised the tables so ten could eat together, some for soup, others for pork with crackling, followed by cakes and hot chocolate.

Lunch at Lime Cross Nursery

After a short wait, Anne joined us having taken the faster main road route from Hailsham, but instead of eating her boxed lunch she bought three potted white flowers, and only started to eat sitting alongside Polegate Church at the end of the ride, and finishing it off on the train.

Outside Lime Cross Nursery

The return trip took us south through small settlements and across the Pevensey Levels to Rickney. But, unlike on the 4 May ride, there were no birds singing in the reed beds, and just gulls and corvids on the marshy areas – and two Mute Swans. Then we turned westwards – when Rob went on his own way – reaching the Shepham Lane bridge over the A27 and along some back streets to the station, completing over 18 miles (averaging 6mph). Sikka, Terry and Chris were ahead and caught the 15.06 train while the rest of us were critically held back by the level-crossing barriers being lowered. Notably no-one had gone across to the Loom rooms for a tea break and we waited for the 15.44, bidding our farewells once back in Brighton Station.

seeing where we'd been

The double irony of the day lay in two issues: some suspected that three ladies may have been put off by the forecast rain – but there was none. The three ladies who did come, were unusually in the minority, at the very time when Ian had called for “Help!” from any lady member to write about how successful the B&H Clarion Cycling Club is in attracting females and often equalising the gender balance on rides. Notably Sikka and Tessa had earlier biked on a recce together [twice, once each way] and had successfully led today’s ride, which gained our thanks.

Julian

More photos on Flickr.


The Next Ride: Sunday 16 November 2014 –  Polegate to Herstmonceux

5 November 2014

Special Note  from Sikka 

Tessa and myself cycled our Polegate route in reverse today and we may decide to do this on the day itself.  It will depend on weather conditions, especially the wind, but today we thought it worked better in reverse because it meant the worst hills were before, rather than after, lunch. The route was the same, we just cycled  up the Cuckoo trail first and back across the Pevensey Levels.

Terrain:   This ride is relatively flat on the whole, mainly when we are cycling across the Levels in the morning and down the Cuckoo Trail in the afternoon.    However, just before and after lunch there are hills. Nothing outrageous, but just to let you know! Length of ride – we guess it is about 16 miles or thereabouts.

Route:  We will start from Polegate station, cycle through the carpark, and out for a short ride along the cycle track on the pavement of the B2247 to the pedestrian crossing after Levetts Lane.  Up this lane to the bridge over the bypass and along quiet roads to Rickney.  Then  north across the Pevensey Levels to the village of Herstmonceux where we will join the footpath by the main road for a few yards to cross over to Lime Cross Nursery.   There we will have an early and, hopefully, leisurely lunch.

Back to the footpath followed by a brief journey along the main A271 through Herstmonceux village. There we take a right turn signposted  to Cowbeech. Now for the bad news.  This road takes us up Cowbeech Hill which is a long, slow, relatively gradual climb, through Stunts Green, and on to the top  at Beech Cross.   Nothing too challenging but it will be on full stomachs! We turn left at this junction onto a slightly busier but wide road, mostly downhill but including a couple of minor upward slopes. This takes us back to glimpse the main road before we slide past it to take a right turn into a wide, quiet road. Along this for a mile or two when we cross the verge into a disused and gated off  road on our left for a short stretch.   Then  straight over another busy road into Station Road. A good clue suggesting we may be approaching the Cuckoo Trail! A short way along just before a bridge we diverge off the tarmac and down an unmade track for a few yards,  joining the Trail and remembering to turn left which will take us South towards the delights of tea at the Loom tea rooms.

After tea,  about a mile left to the end of  the Cuckoo Trail and into Polegate to catch a train home.

Train from Brighton leaving at 10.22, arriving Polegate at 10.49.
Return trains from Polegate to Brighton 15.06 and 15.44,  16.06 and 16.44.

PS  The cafe has asked that we give them good warning we are booking a group for lunch as they expect to order in extra food.   So if you know you are joining the ride, do let us know. Perhaps email me, Sikka, at sikkasue@gmail.com or phone:  07787402229.   Thanks.

Tessa and Sikka