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.
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.