The Next Ride: Sunday 1 October 2017: The Level to Brighton Pier via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

20 September 2017

Distance: 13 miles  Duration: about 4 hours, including lunch in Rottingdean.
We meet at the Italian Cafe on The Level by 10.30 and then ride on the cycle lane along the Lewes Road to the University of Sussex.  We go up the slip road and past the roundabout for a brief stop at the Falmer pond by St. Laurence church. Then onto the cycle path that runs south parallel to the Falmer Road. This path involves an uphill gradient/undulation to the top of the Downs where there are views east towards Lewes and the other way across Brighton to the sea.
We turn left into Bexhill Road to go down on the eastern side of Woodingdean through housing estates so as to avoid the main road (i.e. Falmer Road, B2123), until we join it just north of Rottingdean. 
Lunch can be taken in Rottingdean at The Coach House on the other side of the A259.

After lunch we cycle westwards along the undercliff path back to the Brighton Pier.

The Last Ride: Sunday 30 April 2017 – The Level to Brighton Pier via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

3 May 2017

Ten of us set off from the Tomato Dolce & Salato family-run Italian Cafe / Restaurant (formerly The Velo Cafe) on The Level at 10.40 (Angela C, Angela D, Anne, Dave, David, Julian, Mick, Prudence, Tessa and Wendy) and rode on the cycle lane along the Lewes Road. We passed the gyratory and up to the turn off to Sussex Uni, with the head wind and slow accumulation of height making this slower than expected. Then Mick led the way up through Brighton Uni at Falmer until we reached the Falmer pond. Dave kindly sorted out Julian’s locked chain twice. A brief visit was made to the local artists’ exhibition in the St. Laurence church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Then onto the cycle path that runs south – parallel to the winding Falmer Road – on which at some of the undulations most got off and walked. 
Before we turned left into Bexhill Road, Angela C booked a table for lunch at the Coach House Inn in Rottingdean in the upstairs room. We sped on down at the eastern side of Woodingdean through housing estates, so as to avoid the main road (ie Falmer Road, B2123), until we joined it just north of Rottingdean, then riding on the east-side pavement until we reached the church and village pond. Just before this Tessa peeled off to meet Helen, and Dave also headed off a little later. As is becoming usual, Prudence was often ahead enjoying to go at her fastest.
In the Coach House, after a longish wait, the food arrived for eight of us, ranging from chips with beans, jacket potatoes with tuna mayonnaise or beans, up to a large meat pie slice with vegetables. Discussion was long and intense on political and green issues, particularly involving government spending, and with the case made for proportional representation in elections, instead of first past the post.
After lunch, Angela C headed east to Saltdean accompanied by Anne (who caught us up later) while six of us cycled westwards along the undercliff path back to the Brighton Pier by 3.30 pm or so – a distance of about 13 miles.  On passing the Marina there was light rain for about ten minutes.
Thanks to Angela C and Julian for a pleasant ride.


The next ride: Sunday 30 April 2017 – The Level to Brighton Pier via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

26 April 2017

Distance: 13 miles 
Duration: about 4 hours, including lunch in Rottingdean.
Start: 10.30 at the Velo Cafe on The Level
Finish: Brighton Pier
We meet at the (former?) Velo Cafe on The Level by 10.30 and then ride on the cycle lane along the Lewes Road to the University of Sussex. We go up the slip road and past the roundabout for a brief stop at the Falmer pond by St. Laurence church.  Then onto the cycle path that runs south parallel to the Falmer Road. This path involves an uphill gradient/undulation to the top of the Downs where there are views east towards Lewes and the other way across Brighton to the sea.
We turn left into Bexhill Road to go down on the eastern side of Woodingdean through housing estates so as to avoid the main road (ie Falmer Road, B2123), until we join it just north of Rottingdean. 
Lunch can be taken in Rottingdean either at The Queen Victoria Pub, 54 The High Street, on the left just before the A259 T-junction (recommended by Angela D), or at The Coach House on the other side of the A259.
After lunch we cycle westwards along the undercliff path back to the Brighton Pier.
Julian and Angela

The Last Ride: Sunday 24 July 2016 – The Level to the Palace Pier

27 July 2016

The Level to Rottingdean, via Falmer and Woodingdean, and back to Palace Pier

On the day Chris Froome retained his title for the third time, Clarion cyclists gathered for a Sunday morning Tour de France homage outside the Level’s Velo cafe. Angela and Sean’s route then took us up to Falmer and over the Downs to Rottingdean for lunch.

The start at Velo Cafe, The Level, Brighton

The weather was overcast and warm for most of the of the day, with some welcome light rain as we reached the top of the Downs. Nick, Fred, Angela, Helen, Rob, Julian, Henry, Corinne (who joined us at Rottingdean), Prudence, Chris and Richard were the 11 Clarionista participants.

Rest stop at Falmer Pond

Our first stop was the Falmer village pond, which was home for a number of gulls, ducks and geese. We assumed the light brown birds were geese, but nobody seemed to be totally sure.

Baby ducks (or are they geese?) in Falmer pond

We had a quick look in Falmer’s St Laurence church and discussed the merits of the two Fellowship of the Holy Spirt paintings by Sue Barnes, which some of the cycling art critics found a little intimidating.

Sue Barnes: The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, A Falmer Pentecost

The steepest part of the route was the ascent to the Downs, where we stopped to take in an excellent panoramic view across a large corn field.
Corn field

We also met some ghurkas stewarding an Oxfam 100km walk.
Ghurkas! at an Oxfam 100km walk

The downhill ride to the lunch stop in Rottingdean’s Coach House was then only a few minutes away.

The protracted messy aftermath of the Tory Brexit referendum was discussed at length over lunch, while some of us also found time to comment on the quality of the chips served at the Coach House and added a few more chip photos to the Clarion Flickr food portfolio.

Lunch at the Coach House, Rottingdean

After lunch, those of us who needed to return to Brighton took the always rewarding undercliff route to the Palace Pier. This was a varied and thoroughly enjoyable ride, so thanks to Angela and Sean for organising. I hadn’t been on a Clarion ride since last October and really must try and take part in another one soon!


More photos on Flickr.

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 July 2016 – The Level to Palace Pier

13 July 2016

via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

Distance: 13miles

Duration: 3-4 hrs including lunch

Start: 10.30 at the Velo Cafe at the Level

Finish:  Palace Pier

As this is a fairly short ride for this time of year, Sean and I thought that it might be a nice idea to combine it with a bit of a summer social by having a picnic on the beach at Rottingdean and possibly a swim for any brave souls!  If the weather is not good enough to have a picnic, we have provisionally booked the upstairs room at the Coach and Horses pub in Rottingdean.

We shall meet at the Velo Cafe at the Level at 10.30 and ride from there on the cycle lanes along the Lewes Rd to Sussex University.  From there we shall go up the slip road and round the roundabout to get onto the cycle path that runs parallel to the Falmer Rd.  This cycle path involves a not too challenging gradient, but at the top there are wonderful views across the Downs in one direction to Lewes and in the other direction across Brighton to the sea.  At this time of year the fields are a patchwork of different greens and there are also herds of beautiful cows.

We then cycle all the way down from Woodingdean to Rottingdean.  This road route is rather busy with traffic so we can cycle on the pavement which at first is not very wide but it soon widens out and is much safer to use than the road.  Once in Rottingdean we will make our way down to the seafront and, hopefully, if it is a sunny day we can have a picnic on the beach.  Those who do not wish to have a picnic can have lunch at the Coach and Horses.

After lunch we then cycle along the wonderful undercliff back to Brighton.

Look forward to seeing you all.

Angela and Sean

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: Sunday 1 December – New lanes and links

4 December 2013

The start at the Loving Hut cafe

Nine riders met at The Level: Fiona, Fred, Jenny, John, Julian, Roger, Sikka Sue, Simon, and Suzanne. After negotiating the Vogue Gyratory we used the new improved cycle path along the A27 to get to our first detour, a quick buzz around always-beautiful Stanmer Park. Then through the underpass to the other side of the main road, and up the many twists and turns of the Meccano-like ramp over the railway at Falmer station. It’s amazing how much engineering and metalwork is required to provide access for wheel-users in a confined space – relative to building stairs that is.

Ramp over the railway line at Falmer

The next detour was a pootle round the perimeter of the Amex ‘Community’ Stadium. What a soul-less, horrible building it is, with its acres of tarmac and wire-netting fences, and so out of place (other opinions are also available). Out and across the traffic lights we found the as-yet unmarked entrance to the lovely new shared-use path that runs alongside the B2123 from Falmer to Woodingdean. At last walkers, cyclists, and horse-riders are spared having to risk their lives in the fast-moving traffic, as what was once a lumpy permissive bridleway along the field edge has been upgraded, widened, and surfaced with fine crushed and rolled limestone that is suitable for all bikes, not just knobbly-tyred ones. Sadly, in some places the surface has already been a bit eroded by rain water but it was chosen to be less intrusive in the landscape than tarmac.

John up the hill

The path is separated from the road by a generous embankment, and there’s a grass strip alongside that hopefully will be preferred by horse-riders. The route provided an unaccustomed experience for the Clarions as the hill rose up and up, but the views from the top are spectacular. Julian reported that he saw a very low-flying buzzard, and Fred saw a kestrel. We passed Bullock Hill, the best-kept secret mentioned earlier. The descent into Woodingdean was long and exhilarating – my computer reported a maximum speed of 37.6 mph, in what could well have been a 30 mph zone, oops.

Lunch at The White Horse, Rottingdean

Lunch at The White Horse in Rottingdean was a slightly disorganised affair, with the food taking its time arriving, but it was worth the wait. Then we said goodbye to John and headed back into town along the pancake-flat and more Clarion-friendly undercliff. Six of us detoured back to The Level again to try the new Velo Café – good coffee, excellent cake, a reasonably priced menu of bike repairs on offer, and a flashing, vibrating gadget to alert customers to collect their order. We liked it. My route home along the seafront was enhanced by a millpond sea and a truly spectacular sunset.

Afternoon coffee at Velo

Thanks Roger for organising this ride and introducing the new circuit – the link between Falmer, the South Downs Way, and the coast has been a long time coming and we enjoyed trying it out.


High tech coffee ready sensor


More photos on Flickr.

The next ride: Sunday 1 December – New Lanes and Links (plus Amex 360)

20 November 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.

The first part of this ride is much the same as one I led last year to Stanmer and Falmer.  The main difference this time will be that I won’t fall off my bike.

The other main difference is that the cycle lane along the Lewes Road has been upgraded. It now keeps us well protected from the traffic, including buses once we’re past the Vogue Gyratory. The bus stops are now on islands cut off from the main footpath by the cycle lane:  is this good for pedestrians?  A suitable lunchtime discussion topic perhaps.

So we start at the south end of the Level and take the A27 to Stanmer Park. We’ll take a circular detour through the park, just because it’s nice. Then under the main road to the station and up a seemingly endless ramp across the railway line.  On the other side we’ll take a spin right round the Amex Stadium (close up), just because it’s possible.

Now we get to the gem at the heart of this ride, the new cycle link between Falmer and Woodingdean. At last it’s possible to ride between these two places without being turned into a quivering jelly by the traffic on the narrow B2123. Mind you, the hills are still there:  those who choose to walk up the steep bits will probably gain a fuller appreciation of the stunning views. It’s quite amazing how, in spite of all the new developments at Falmer, you can suddenly find yourself in beautiful, open, rolling country – pity about the traffic noise.

We’ll take a back road through Woodingdean, partly to avoid the traffic, but also to sneak a peek at one of our secretary’s best kept secrets.  Then a long and steep downhill run (test your brakes!) to the road into Rottingdean where we’ll have lunch at the White Horse  (tel. 01273 301945).

The final few miles of the ride could be along the Undercliff Path or, if that’s too crowded, along the cliff top cycle path. The ride will end back at the Level with tea at the Velo café.  Non-riders might like to join us:  approximate time of arrival 3 pm.


Meet: 11 am outside the Loving Hut cafe at the south end of the Level
Distance: Approx 18 miles
Hills: Quite steep between Falmer and Woodingdean, otherwise fairly flat.
Terrain: Road, cycle lane, track and shared space.
Catering: Lunch at the White Horse at Rottingdean (tel. 01273 301945), tea at the recently opened Velo Café at the Level.

My mobile 0789 985 1172.


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.

Clarion on the rocks at Rottingdean: The summer social (26 August)

28 August 2012

Suzanne & Roger made a prescient choice 2 months ago when they opted for the Sunday of August Bank Holiday weekend, as the Saturday was foul & wet all day. Monday was set to be cloudy, but their/our day was sunny & warm, though the sea was bit too rough for any but hardy Mick to risk a swim. Five Clarionettes gathered at Palace Pier at the allotted 11.30 am ETD.

The start at the Palace Pier

Mick & I were too busy cooking & packing food to make it then, & attempted to catch up from our eastern eyrie up near the County Hospital. Racing along beneath the cliffs I arrived at Rottingdean to see Clarion arrayed amongst the rocks just as Ian & Sue were clambering onto the beach with their chairs & foods. Mick was already in the surfy sea. Amanda had come all the way from London on her Brompton (with some help from train) & Leon all the way from Hassocks. Good to see Helen, who had suffered a fire at her home & was living in the nearby hotel. Angela came from the east with two friends from Spain, & Fred, Jim, Sue, Roger & Suzanne came from the west, via the white cliffs of the Undercliff Walk where cycling is finally permitted, after years of prohibition.


How I long for the Hove seafront prom being opened up for cyclists too, instead of cycling being confined to the far too narrow track (NCN 2 too!) along by the smelly exhaust-fumed main road, (over)-used by speedy commuters, speedy roller skaters (one going backwards downhill, last week), skateboarders, scooters, mobility scooters, toddlers tottering into playgrounds & wandering pedestrians.

Picnic on the rocks

My spinach & feta filo borek had survived the bike ride coddled in its cool-bag & Mick’s blackberry crumble had survived its bumpy trip in his backpack, though its tea-towel wrap had turned a vivid purple. Sue had made a delicious quinoa salad & Suzanne some super date slices & scrumptious home-made biscuits. There were strawberries & grapes, beetroot & walnut Russian salad, falafels, blue corn chips & more to share.

Mick has a swim

There were very dark grey clouds to the north of Brighton, but it was still sunny over the seaside. A few hearty bathers were in the sea, jumping over the white waves rather than swimming, though we were near the lifeguards. Mick warned that rocks under the surf were treacherous. Amanda had forgotten her cossie, Jim had had a cold, I’d had two or three recent rain soakings followed by feverish flushes, & Sue/Sikka was procrastinating, so with all our swimmers having qualms, no more dips were taken, apart from paddles to wash out the crockery after the feast.

Dismount at Ovingdean

We missed the joy of Joyces: J. Edmond-Smith in Paris with family & J. Moore unwell at home in Hassocks. Maybe Joyce E-S would have led us in to brave the waves & Joyce M regaled us with her creative cooking. Other missing members were invoked when Sue/Sikka recalled last Saturday’s “Lewes Against the Cuts Bike Ride” where she had bumped into Sean, who was on the ride, whereas Sue seemed to have side-stepped it, hoping to catch up at the coffee stop & to be included in the numbers. It took me six hours to recall why I wasn’t on the protest ride to which Clarion had been invited, but we were way up north in the Midlands for a family wedding.

Ian, Suzanne and Roger

Rottingdean beach is plastered with signs saying “Keep off the Rocks” but they offered shelter from the Wild West wind, noticeable as soon as you stood up. The village does hold other attractions, like Rudyard Kipling’s house & garden & The Grange, Art Gallery & Museum with its tea-room & pretty village pond, but long journeys home prevented any further explorations for Amanda & Leon, while the rest of us locals decided to wend our way home stopping for tea at the Ovingdean Beach Café, having faced the full force of 20-mph headwinds drying out our throats.

Brompton picnic

Thanks to Suzanne & Roger for organising a fine venue & fine day on yet another inclement Bank Holiday weekend. Best wishes to those unable to come due to ill health & cheers to those who joined our cheery band of Clarionettes among the rocks of Rottingdean.