The Last Ride: Sunday 8 March 2015 – Hassocks to Poynings

11 March 2015

Sunday’s Clarion ride, organised by Mick and Anne, took us from Hassocks railway station via Woods Mill Nature Reserve and Poynings in pleasant morning spring sunshine, followed by cooler and more overcast weather after lunch for the return ride to Hassocks.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

The Hassocks Clarion fifteen gathered outside Hassocks railway station were: Anne, Mick, Helen, Dave, Joyce, Leon, Chris, David, Sikka, Angela, Rob, Julia, Corinne, Nick and Sean.

Snwdrops at woods by Newtimber

Mick suggested a brisk pace for the cyclists in order for us to arrive at the lunch stop in Poynings as close to noon as possible.The Royal Oak were trying to accommodate our group ahead of the busy Sunday lunch trade.
Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Woods Mill Nature Reserve was a popular first stop of the day. There were plenty of snowdrops on display close to the nature reserve pond. Although we could hear plenty of birdsong, we had limited time to explore the variety of wildlife in the nature reserve. It would be good to return again in the future to see the nightingales, woodpeckers, warblers, turtle doves and dragonflies listed in the Woods Mill Nature Reserve information sheet. The Sussex Wildlife Trust had a number of free pamphlets for visitors to take away. I picked up information leaflets on urban foxes, squirrels and Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve (also run by Sussex Wildlife Trust).

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

The next planned stop after Woods Mill Nature was the lunch stop at the Royal Oak in Poynings. There was a slight delay reaching the lunch stop due to problems with Sean’s bike chain. Dave was able to fix the twisted chain during an emergency roadside repair, while I took a few photos.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

Sean’s pitstop bike repair resulted in some of us arriving later at the Royal Oak than was planned. We spent lunch in an upstairs function room, away from the very busy bar downstairs. I dined on chips and ketchup, but there were more exotic dishes available (the soup option favoured by some looked particularly appetising). Joyce did a fine job working through the till receipt at the end of the meal to decide how much we each needed to contribute to the bill.

March 8, 2015: Hassocks circular via Poynings & Woods Mill Nature Reserve

Despite lunch taking longer than some previous Clarion meal breaks, we still had time for a tea-stop later in the afternoon. With photographs of animals on the walls to remind us we were in a farm, we spent thirty minutes in Washbrook Farm drinking tea before heading back to Hassocks railway station.

Woods Mill

Sean spotted a reasonably well-known BBC TV football pundit as we cycled through the mean streets of Hurstpierpoint. We were still trying to remember the name of this mystery football presenter (Jonathan somebody?) as we waited for the train at the end of Anne and Mick’s excellent bike ride.


More photos on Flickr

The Next Ride

7 May 2014

Sunday 18 May 2014: Shoreham Circular

Portslade – Devil’s Dyke – Poynings – Edburton – Bramber

For some time we have been looking for a ride from Shoreham to facilitate Clarion members living locally in West Sussex, and originally planned a gentle ride to complete Jenny’s ride to Bramber on 23 February, which was shortened due to gusty winds. To enliven the ride, we have tried to add an extra loop along Spithandle Lane to Wiston Granary and back along Mouse Lane, but getting access through the grounds of Wiston House on the day cannot be guaranteed, and returning to Steyning on the busy A283 would be too dangerous. So we have come up with a more challenging ride that Jim would say includes ‘some undulations’.

We will start at Shoreham Station and feed our way through the quiet streets of the historic village of Southwick (recorded in the Domesday Book) and on to Portslade, before turning northwards towards Benfield Valley Golf Course and arriving in Hangleton at the start of the Dyke Railway Trail – RCN 82.

For those who want to check the state of their knees and lungs on an ‘undulation’, before embarking on the 564ft climb to the top of Devil’s Dyke, you can try the short-cut from Hangleton Valley Drive up Downsview to meet up at St. Helen’s Church. In fact railway grades are seldom steeper than 1 in 40, so this smooth-surfaced trail is quite gentle, as we climb up between West Hove and Brighton and Hove Golf Courses and pass the Dyke Clubhouse. From hereon it is almost downhill all the way back to Shoreham, as we zip down Saddlescombe Road passing views to Devil’s Dyke before arriving at our lunch stop at Poynings. We don’t have many opportunities for a coffee break, but if there is time, we can pop into the Hiker’s Rest at Saddlescombe Farm before making the final leisurely ride to the Royal Oak for our lunch stop.

After this break, we head west along the foot of the Downs through Fulking and Edburton and pass Tottington Manor Farm before joining the A2037 from Henfield. There is an extant bridleway that could take us into the back of Upper Beeding, thus avoiding this busy road, but unfortunately some trees have been felled that block the route and it has now become overgrown and it is only really passable by foot. Therefore it seems that we have no option but to cycle carefully down the stretch of the Henfield Road into Castle Town and Bramber. If you blink you might miss Upper Beeding, but they do have nice beer, food and a large garden at the King’s Head.

The last leg follows the River Adur southwards along the Downs Link and across the Tollbridge to Shoreham Airport where we can take another break before continuing along the river through Ropetackle and back to Shoreham Station. If you are feeling fit and need a longer ride, you could cycle into Shoreham from Brighton and back (allow an extra 45 minutes each way).


Start at 10:20, Shoreham-by-Sea Station.

Take 10:00 train from Brighton (or get the later 10.30 train to Portslade and meet us at this station at about 11.00 if you need to get up later).

Length: 20 miles (16 if starting at Portslade)

Duration: About 6 hours including lunch and tea stops.

Return from Shoreham at 03, 33 or 48 mins past the hour to Brighton; 48 mins past the hour direct to London Victoria or 03 via Brighton.

Terrain: Quiet roads and smooth off-road to RCN 82, apart from two short lengths of B roads through Portslade; hard surface, gentle climb to the Dyke and steep downhill to Poynings (check brakepads); one short climb on Edburton Road; half mile of busy road on A2037; flat, off-road Downs Link following river meanders.

Mobile: 0783-7263722

David and Linda


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

The Last Ride: Sunday 7 October 2012 – Hove to Shoreham

8 October 2012

Tessa kindly welcomed us all to morning coffee at her studio, so by the time we got to the photoshoot in Lorna Road we had all had time to begin to get to know our welcome newcomers Chris, Suki, Pauline and Nina and Carole. Sue/Sikka, Joyce, Jim, Angela, Marylyn, Roger, Sean and Suzanne were out in force, and it was good to see Elaine with the group for a second outing with Clarion.

Start - 15 Clarionettes blocking Lorna Road

Tessa, still suffering from laryngitis, led us on the first part of the ride to bowl along the new cycle lane on the Old Shoreham Road. She then sensibly left us to nurse her poorly throat. Sue/Sikka then took over the task of (quote Jim) “herding cats” (unquote Jim) to wend our way around Hove Recreation Ground. Yes, it’s quite a hill up past the Engineerium, along Nevill Road, up Downland Drive (no pun intended) and then that annoying “down” towards the bridge over the bypass before “up” (Regional Cycle Route 82)

On the Downs

to join the old Aldrington-to-Devil’s Dyke railway track (line closed 1938). Once on our way the fatigue of the climb was far outweighed by the spectacular views across toward the sea … and even more so by the long sweep down towards Saddlescombe Farm and coffee, cakes and glorious sunshine. Nice to see the café so busy with at least two cycling groups and many weary walkers.

The Hikers' Rest

We then continued down to the “under down” villages, Poynings, Fulking, Edburton – a halt being called when some horses were spotted in a field – not just any old horses but a magnificent Shire horse who must have stood 18 hands and several smaller versions of the species. Suki sacrificed half of her lunch in the form of an apple (by the way, Angela, I have never seen anyone split an apple in two with her – or even his – bare hands). The two halves of the apple were promptly snaffled by said 18-hander who then proceeded to investigate Suki’s pannier in the hopes of more goodies.


It was decided it was time to move on – our own lunch was calling – although Jim could not resist a little caméra vérité on the way.

Arty shot - Angela and my right elbow

A nice little side road brought us safely to Upper Beeding, over the bridge and to an excellent lunch at the Castle Hotel at Bramber. Despite aching legs and full stomachs we wended our way along the Downslink Cycle Route (rail line closed 1966), with Jim doing some bird-spotting as we rode.

Downs Link

Crossing the river Adur we continued on our way to Shoreham where the party went its separate ways: Suki to pick hedge berries, Chris to the comfort of home in Shoreham itself, Sean, Angela, Nina, Pauline, Jim and Carole to en-train for Hove and points east, whilst Sue, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne pedalled off Brightonwards, Joyce and Sue being detained by a cup of tea at Carats’ Café.

A beautifully crafted ride of all the 7s – no, not 777 miles, but 7 miles to refreshment, 7 miles to refreshment and 7 miles to possible refreshment. Three refreshment stops in one ride – this is a record that we must certainly attempt to equal on a regular basis.

Many thanks to both Tessa and Sue for planning such a good ride (and good weather, of course) and to Sue to her skill in making it all happen so enjoyably.

PS: The Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe Farm is offering music, food (carnivores and veggievores catered for), and soft or hot drinks (take your own glass and wine if you want something stronger) 6pm until 10pm Thursday 11 October – in the pergola if wet. Tickets on the night £12.00.


More photos on Flickr.

The Last Ride: 18 March 2012 – Aldrington to Shoreham

20 March 2012

Thirteen riders met at Aldrington on Mothers’ Day just as the sun was slipping behind a large grey cloud. They were Angela, Ann, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue (our leader), Suzanne and Tessa. Would we be lucky with the weather?

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 001

We set off through suburban Hove passing the impressive West Blatchington Mill. Then came the first of the various choices that Sue would be offering us during the day. Should we take the off-road track with its risk of mud, or stick to the slightly longer road? Some wanted one and some the other so we split into two groups, and met up again at the footbridge over the A27.

Discussion on (en) route

From here it was (fairly gently) uphill all the way to a spectacular view of the English Channel and our next choice: coffee inside at the Devil’s Dyke, or outside at the Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe with its home-made cakes? A quick glance at the sky and the vote was unanimous – the home-made cakes had it.

Hikers' Rest

Thoroughly refreshed we resumed our journey, plunging down to Poynings, where Sue’s next question was posed: was Helen ahead of us or had we left her at the café? Blank looks all round, so Jim volunteered to ride back and look for her. Needless to say we were all soon reunited and Jim was pleased to learn that Helen had not been abducted by the hairy, vintage motorcyclists he came across during his search: she had been ahead of us all the time.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 005

Onwards to the King’s Head at Upper Beeding for lunch. As it was Mothers’ Day all the inside seating had been reserved for those accompanied by their bona fide mothers. As a result we had to sit outside, as Sue had forewarned us. Well, there is outside and outside. We were soon seated around a magnificent table in an open-sided barn overlooking the garden and staring intently at the hi-tec gizmos we had each been given when ordering food. Whenever anyone’s meal was ready to collect, their gizmo turned into a festival of flashing LEDs. The meals were pretty good too.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 015

The weather was still being kind as we started the final leg of the journey along the Downs Link to Shoreham and the next decision point: train or cycle back to Brighton? Four of our number peeled off to catch a train and the rest hurried on to Shoreham Lock for the final choice of the day: a cup of tea at Carats Café or straight home? Two more peeled off for tea and the rest pushed on along the coast.

Thanks for a great ride Sue – and for all those choices!


[More photos on Flickr]

Cycling the Pioneer Run

Roger’s report mentions seeing vintage motorcycles (or was it vintage motorcyclists? Probably both …) on Sunday’s ride. They were taking part in the annual Pioneer Run from Epsom Downs to Brighton – and I wasn’t on the Clarion ride because I was cycling the route in among the motorcycles with some friends. It was great fun! I had to get a very early train from Brighton to meet my friends at East Croydon, then we rode from there to Tattenham Corner, Epsom, and stopped for a while to admire the organised chaos of hundreds of very unusual motorbikes getting ready to depart.

The start at Epsom

Despite forecasts of rain at some point we had a dry ride under largely blue skies, and the atmosphere was very merry with motorcyclists and passengers (in some very uncomfortable-looking sidecars including a wicker one) waving and hallooing to us as they passed us – we were very careful to keep out of their way as their brakes are often not that brilliant, in fact we saw one guy stopping by simply putting his feet down! Several of our number abandoned their bikes at one point to help a poor chap push his stalled three-wheeled vintage number up the hill at Handcross.

Stopped for a Woodbine and a chat

No closed roads for this run, unlike the version for the vintage cars, but we had an excellent 58-mile ride with one coffee/snack stop at Pease Pottage. We were on the main roads a lot of the time, but the presence of the old motorbikes made the traffic behave very well all day and we sailed down the A23 on the cycle path. We got to Madeira Drive at about 2 pm, after most of the motorcycles had departed, so we could find some room at the Madeira Café to enjoy tea and chips – a grand day out!