The Last Ride: Sunday 11 January 2015 – Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way

13 January 2015

It was most certainly a ride of two halves today.  Of the ten on the ride, six – Anne, Roger, David, Julian, Sue and a very welcome new rider, Delia – set off from Palace Pier under an auspicious combination of bright low sun and a high silvery moon. Mick very kindly stayed behind to meet your correspondent who arrived rather late and by multimodal transport (replacement bus service). As we put the hammer down to catch up with the peloton, we were unaware that Nick was conducting a search for his wallet and then pausing for photo opportunities, eventually catching the group at the lunch stop.

January 11, 2015: Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way

The ride proceeded enjoyably along the Undercliff Walk to Saltdean where Angela joined us. From there to Hoddern Farm where new lambs were admired, ponies approached and a buzzard and various corvids spotted, then on to Southease where the new Egrets Way was tested until the made path ran out. A short visit to the Southease parish church of St Peter (Saxon, dating from 966, notable for its unusual round tower) was followed by a lunch stop at the Abergavenny Arms, an excellent choice as not only was the food good, it was served extremely quickly.

Lunchtime conversation was split between the intellectual end of the table where I am assured that serious political debate took place, and the other end which focused on lycra louts, the undesirability of modern brewing methods and the Clarions’ penchant for food photography.

January 11, 2015: Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way

The afternoon brought a change in fortune and weather, the predicted ‘freshening’ became a howling icy blast and some of us struggled to climb the hill to Telscombe where superb views were on offer. A puncture then struck, following the rules of punctures which are that it should occur at the most inconvenient time and in the worst possible conditions. The best of Clarion fellowship was then seen with a team of volunteers (thank you Mick, David and Roger) fixing it, with other riders recording the event and offering helpful suggestions on the need for a bucket of water and giving an inventive description of how to improvise when this was not available.

January 11, 2015: Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way

Some hard work followed as we rode on into the headwind over the Tye and down to the Undercliff Walk. We considered taking the road but concluded that what Anne described as the ice bucket challenge was preferable to the likelihood of being blown into the traffic. This ride had it all – fellowship, farm animals, great views, a more challenging climb than usual and some extreme weather – possibly the most exciting Clarion ride ever!  Many thanks to Anne and Mick for a great day out.

January 11, 2015: Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way


January 11, 2015: Palace Pier to Rodmell and the Egrets Way

The Last Ride : Sunday 7th September 2014 – Brighton to Seaford and a day full of Brownie Points  

10 September 2014

Go East”, decreed Anne, so East we went … and it was loverly.

September 7, 2014: Brighton to Seaford

Anne, Annie, Corinne, David, Jim, John, Julian, Nick, Roger and Suzanne met at the Palace Pier on a hazy early autumn morning, just right for Clarion.  Once the technology had been discussed (David’s new micro-video camera, Julian’s zoom capacities) and a bog-standard group photo taken, it was off along Madeira Drive (apologies to the cyclist on the “Doitforcharity” cycle ride who thought/hoped that our gaggle of momentarily stationary Clarion cyclists was the Finishing line) and thus onto the (… cliché alert …) sunny uplands of the cliff tops as far as Rottingdean where a vertiginous drop brought us down onto the Undercliff Path, Saltdean and Angela who was waiting to join us.


Then we were eleven.

Once we had conquered the daunting rise to Telscombe Cliff, Anne led us on a complicated but fascinating tour (aka “almost NCRN2”) of Peacehaven and finally onto what seemed like the top of the world above Piddinghoe. First set of Brownie Points to Anne for knowing the code to open the gate across the private road so we did not have to lift the bikes over.

Following a quick whizz down through Piddinghoe (Jim getting giddy by insisting on reading the inscription wound round their Millennium “pole”)


and round the back of Newhaven and once again we were in open cycling country, on our way to Seaford where all made a concerted attack on our sandwiches, scones etc sitting by (…cliché alert …) a sparkling sea. Our lunchtime was enlivened by the sight of (a) a lifeboat rescue practice and (b) Anne taking an energetic dip. Fortunately (a) did not attempt to rescue (b).

September 7, 2014: Brighton to Seaford

Jim opted to leave us at Seaford, thus missing the highlight of the ride – a first for many of us, and a loved, familiar spot for others – described rather boringly as “The South Hill Barn”. The area is, in fact, a charming nature reserve on the top of Seaford Head. Unfortunately Angela did not feel like making the last climb of the day up to the reserve, but Brownie Points to David for going down the mighty hill to check that she was OK, and then ( … mixed metaphor alert …), to burnish his halo even brighter, he looked after the bikes while the rest of the group went to see the (…cliché alert …) stunning view of the Cuckmere Valley and the Seven Sisters.


Sun drenched and tired we all met up with Angela again at the bottom of the steep hill, only to realise that Roger had left his helmet at the top. Not sensible! So it was then his turn to do an extra climb back up. Fortunately two kind people had put the helmet on top of a post where it was eventually found. Brownie points for them.

The ride back to Seaford Station was gloriously downhill. There was a very keen desire on the part of many to stop for tea. However, as a train was standing in the station ready to go,the unanimous decision was that an early cup of tea at home would do instead. In addition to our nine bikes (Brownie Points to Angela’s son, Jack, for going to Seaford to collect her in the car) there must have been another nine non-Clarion bikes spread over the four carriages. Brownie points to Southern for accommodating all of us with a smile.

Many thanks to Anne for an excellent, new, ride.


The Next Ride: 21 July 2013: NCN2 – Palace Pier to Seaford

9 July 2013

Now that summer has finally arrived we propose a seaside route along the NCN2 to Seaford whence we hope the Westerly breeze wafts us for a picnic on the beach & a swim. On our previous foray on NCN2 we rushed off to Berwick station leaving or losing some at Seaford, so we shall reverse this by losing your leaders, as we have to catch a lunchtime train home from Seaford to attend a 70th birthday party.  You can take a train home from Seaford too, or return via Berwick, Newhaven  or cycle all the way home. If you forget the sarnies or prefer a pint there is the White Lion Pub & various cafes.

We’d like to start at 10.15 from the Palace Pier.  Having just checked to make sure there are no big events starting along the seafront then I see that Rottingdean has a Summer Smugglers Event on the stage on the seafront starting at 11am so we should arrive  amid the crowds, stalls & colourful display just about right to mingle. Enough time to recover before the short incline up to Telscombe Cliff & then onwards either via the Hoddern Farm Route or the exciting clifftop experience of the Newhaven entry. From Newhaven we have the very pleasant Ouse Valley Nature Reserve & Tidemills Trail:

In spring and summer the air is alive with the song of skylarks. More than a hundred types of bird have been recorded and the managers hope that the nationally threatened lapwing will return to breed on the specially managed areas.” 

Cycle Seahaven site promises that the final entry into Seaford has been improved too.


Start = Palace Pier at 10.15 a.m

Length = 15 miles approx.   30 if you cycle both ways.

Hills = Undulation  around  Saltdean but if the wind is prevailing Westerly you won’t even notice it, esp as the bus lane next to the NCN2 prevents car fumes reaching cyclists.

Terrain = Almost all good surface – unless we choose the clifftop experience which   is a footpath & may entail a bit of pushing, but worth it for the views.

Lunch = Picnic on beach or White Lion Hotel [pub] if unlucky with weather.

Trains = from Seaford at 27 & 57 mins past the hour to Brighton, taking 30-40mins.


Clarion Christmas Social – 22 December 2012

27 December 2012

Roger and Suzanne outside the world's smallest restaurant

The Saturday before Christmas and the weather did us proud, with twenty four hours of continuous rain from a grey, grey sky, pushed around by twenty mph winds. But the nineteen clarionists who ventured out for a festive, lunchtime get-together were not discouraged. They were Angela, Suzanne, John, Jo, Jenny, Nick, Chloe, Sue (Bullock), Ian, Joyce, Chris, Sue (from Lewes), Mick, David, Anne, Fred, Helen, Linda and Roger.

Happy lunchers

Well done to Nick who arrived by bike – and to anyone else who did the same but less conspicuously. Well done also, to the rest, who didn’t.

Nick and Jenny tuck in to tapas

The venue was the Whitecliffs Café at Saltdean. We had a set menu of mixed tapas, which arrived in true, chaotic, tapas style and was received with mixed reviews. The conversation was also mixed, chaotic and done to a turn.

Ian and Joyce managed to win the cryptic, cycling related quiz – sample question: Wartime US general eavesdropping – answer Bradley Wiggins. Mick, who confessed to creating the questions, presented the winners each with a jar of home-made lemon curd.

The other table

Once the meal was over, a sub-group wended its way back to Mick and Anne’s house to admire the views, drink tea, eat mince pies and contemplate a game of BN1. Your correspondent left at this point, so subsequent developments must remain hidden in the mist that was by now enshrouding the house.

Many thanks to Anne and Mick for organising everything and for their generous hospitality.

(Santa’s) Boots!


The Next Ride: Brighton to Berwick – 23 September 2012

11 September 2012

We plan to do the NCN2 Palace Pier to Berwick that Mick led last year, but to do it differently.

Starting at 10.30 we’ll cycle along the Undercliff  Walk to Saltdean. Taking the tunnel under the A259, we can yodel or practice chants for the next big demo – could be Oct 20th, or sooner. Back on the sea side of the road via the crossing there are some soaring undulations, then an alteration from last year, when Mick said you went by the cliff path. We will stick to the official NCN2 route & cross back to the Downs side, following the quiet roads above Peacehaven & enjoying the views.

When the NCN leads back to the A259, we cross at the pelican crossing. Mick will lead the clifftop  adventure, with exciting views of sea & cliffs.  For those subject to vertigo, or of a nervous disposition, I can lead us on the official NCN route. There is an alpaca on this path/track/road[!}but  I don’t always see it, though locals have told me it comes to a call. Road is rough & stony but we can easily walk & push.

We can descend into Newhaven via their super new Tideway school.  Clifftop party will descend via the country park and we’ll all meet up for lunch at The Ark pub by the harbour, which specialises in local fish dishes but has a varied, tasty menu. We’ve booked for 12.30 & hope to leave by 1.30pm.

We’ll soon be in the Tidemills Country Park & on the peaceful off-road track, among the birds & wild flowers. We doubt that there will be time for a swim at Seaford, not if we want tea at Littlington Tea Gardens, anyway, but those so minded, can bring kit & hope.

We’ll take our favourite detour from NCN2 after Seaford & enjoy the peace of the Cuckmere Haven [foot]path, instead of joining the hurtling cars on the A259. Unfortunately, we do have to join the road for a few minutes, before we turn left at Friston Forest & head Up[only a bit] to Littlington Tea Garden & some refreshing tea & flowers.[or cakes].

Left a bit towards Alfriston, but no entry for us as we’ve tried all/some teashops there & they are too small. So we head to Berwick station, passing by Drusillas, crossing the A27 at the bike crossing & then on dedicated track next to the country road.  Trains are at 16.48,17.48 & even 15.48. Any Londoners can change at Lewes for direct train.


Meet at the Palace Pier at 10:30 am
Hills: Yes, there are a few, but prevailing W[esp. SW], helps & no need to dismount, though there are some rough patches between Peacehaven & Newhaven, unbefitting to a national cycle network, but picturesque.
Length: 23miles.
If weather is unkind we can return via Seaford station.


The Last Ride: Sunday 15 October 2011 – Brighton to Seaford

20 October 2011

Belying the early morning frost, the sky was blue, the sun warm, and the sea smooth when nine eager Clarionistas met at the Palace Pier: Fred, Ian, Joyce, Leon, Rob, our leader Roger, Sikka, Steve and Suzanne. After wending our way through the Marina and along the Undercliff we were soon to be met by Angela and Helen at Saltdean, so now we were eleven.

Group photo

Once off the Undercliff, where the weather had already required a great deal of disrobing, there was what Roger had described as a ‘short sharp climb’ – sharp yes, but short? It certainly didn’t feel like it to me, nevertheless, we all heroically made it still on our bikes, if hot and panting (I was anyway). This meant more disrobing before crossing the road onto the Tye.

Glorious day on the Downs

The theme of this ride surely must be gratitude: grateful to have this perfect autumn day, the magnificent views as we crossed the Tye with more to come, and being with amiable companions. Once across the Tye there was the thrill of the long steep descent. I am afraid we all flew through at high speed and missed the former judges’ lodgings – still it was good to know it was there … Another hill to climb, so this was turning out to be a question of perception of the ‘mostly flat’ description. On the other hand the ‘ups’ were manageable and the downs were wonderfully long and steep, as was the descent into Southease – and the ‘downs’ did seem to outnumber the ‘ups’ (I don’t know if that can be the case).

Southease swing bridge

By now a bit of dawdling was called for, provided by a long stop on the bridge over the Ouse, contemplating the river and recalling the tragedy of Virginia Woolf. On then to Newhaven and, pedalling round the harbour, the perennial discussion about shags and cormorants. The final consensus seemed to be that there were five cormorants and one shag sunning themselves and spreading their wings. Checking, it is clear there were definitely five cormorants, but whether the other bird was a shag I leave open.

Group photo at lunch stop

At the Hope Inn it was nice to have Sue Bullock join us. Again we were fortunate, seated on the first-floor closed veranda with a great view across the harbour to Seaford and what was finally agreed to be Bishopstone. Discussions ranged around, at one end of the table, democracy, and at the other, the differences between pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans etc. This was in some way brought about by the fact that Rob had to wait a very long time for his fish pie, which never materialised, leaving him to settle for a vegetarian curry instead.

St Andrew's, Bishopstone

After lunch the merry band began to disperse on their separate ways: Ian to go back with Sue in the car; Angela, Helen, and Steve to make their way back to Saltdean, potentially joined by Sikka, except that she missed their turning off and failed in her attempt to catch up with them – so as she reported later she had a solitary journey home. The rest of us, Roger, Leon, Fred, Suzanne, Rob and Joyce, continued on to Seaford, with a diversion to Bishopstone and the delightful church of St. Andrews, where we spent time in the sun pottering around the amazingly well-kept churchyard in which even the carvings on the impressive gravestones had been redone. We pondered over the grave of Baron Asquith, whom I now know to be the fourth son of H.H. Asquith – later Prime Minister, eventually Lord Justice of Appeal, and made a life peer in 1951 as Baron Asquith of Bishopstone.

Bishopstone art deco station

On then to Seaford, noting as we went the intrusion of the incinerator, clearly visible from several points on the Downs. (Some like to call it ‘Energy from Waste’ but until I see evidence of the energy produced and who gets it I will continue to call it the incinerator – but then I hate it as much as I always did …) Another short diversion and excuse for dallying, at Fred’s request, was to the station of Bishopstone, which was very well worth it. A charming Art Deco design by Charles Holden, a Grade 2 listed building (now on the English Heritage at-risk register). It was opened in 1938 and was meant to serve a residential development that never happened because of the outbreak of the Second World War. The war explains the pair of pillboxes on the roof of the main building, which puzzled us, and it is said that considerable effort was made to blend them in to the original structures. The line was singled in 1975 and there are no staff, which explains English Heritage’s concern.

Tea and scones stop

Finally to Seaford for a well-needed cup of tea and scones, the mystery of the trembling pole, the truth about short cycle lanes, and the train home. Many thanks to Roger for a wonderful day.


[More photos on Flickr]

The Next Ride: Sunday 16 October – Brighton to Seaford

4 October 2011

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

This is a linear ride, which has two serious hills that go up and two that go down. We start at the former Palace Pier in Brighton and cycle along the Undercliff Path to Saltdean, then on a cycle path up the hill to Telscombe Tye, a common owned by Telscombe Town Council. (Yes, Telscombe does claim to be a town, but when we cycle through it, we may think otherwise.)

Here we will turn inland – watch out for traffic as we cross the main road! The track across the Tye to Telscombe is a bit rough. Admire the mystic concrete standing stones at the start.

There is a steep descent into the village itself with a temptation to fly straight through at high speed. It might be worth stopping to see the houses in the village centre; look out for the former Judge’s Lodgings on the right, used by judges visiting Lewes until a few years ago. There’s also a graveyard behind the church of St Laurence where Gracie Fields’ brother is buried.

Most of us will walk up the hill out of Telscombe and then jump into the saddle for the delightful run down to Southease, one of my favourite bits of cycling in Sussex. I’ve been trying to fit it into a Clarion ride ever since I started planning them.

At Southease we can revisit the old swing bridge over the Ouse, which we looked at last year; it should have been refurbished by now. Then there’s a bit of a climb out of the village onto the rather busy road to Newhaven for lunch at the Hope Inn by the harbour entrance.

After lunch those who want a slightly longer and hillier ride can make their way back to Brighton along the cliff top (reversing Mick’s recent ride). The rest can follow me to Seaford for a cuppa at the Salts Café on the seafront and a train ride back to Brighton via Lewes. We could take a short diversion on the way to visit the tiny village of Bishopstone and see the church of St Andrew, built between AD 600 and 800.

Meet: At the Palace Pier at 10:30 am.
Cycling distance: Approx 20 miles or 23 if you cycle back to Brighton from Newhaven.
Off-road / traffic: Lots of traffic-free cycling on the Undercliff Path and the cycle path to Seaford. The road from Southease to Newhaven is rather busy.
Hills: Yes – two short sharp climbs out of Saltdean and Telscombe. Otherwise mostly flat.
Catering: Lunch at the Hope Inn, Newhaven (01273 515389). Tea at the Salts Café, Seaford.
Getting home: Trains leave Seaford for Brighton at :27 and :53. The fare is £3.60 (£2.40 with a railcard). We’ll probably need to buy tickets from a machine at Seaford station or from a train manager.
My mobile: 0789 985 1172. Please let me know if you plan to join us en route.