The Last Ride: Sunday 9 July 2017 Woods Mill – Bramber – Shoreham

11 July 2017

Our group of six cyclists at Hassocks station. Start of ride 9th July 2017

Present on the ride were leader Leon, Joyce, Wendy David Sikka and Richard. A well prepared and clearly experienced Leon led us for about an hour and a half from Hassocks station over gently undulating roads in brilliant sunshine via pretty Sussex villages like Albourne and Hurstpierpoint to our lunch stop at Woods Mill Nature Reserve.

Paintings on building at Woodsmill.

A leisurely picnic in the shade of ancient oaks was followed by a short stroll to the nearby mill lake, sadly now lacking water movement and covered in algae but still a lovely tranquil spot with damsel flies in profusion. It was time to follow the butterflies, including slightly elusive but gorgeous Red Admirals, so some of lost ourselves in that blissful and innocent activity for a while.

Refreshed, we set off again towards Bramber. Sikka and David left us for a while to investigate a possible future ride (watch the Clarion site). Cars, and sweating young men hunched over the handlebars, shot past in both directions from time to time. The author wishes them no ill but fancies we enjoyed our ride somewhat more.

Woods Mill Clarion ride Sunday 9th July

Outside Bramber Castle entrance we regrouped and availed ourselves of David’s knowledge of a newer and alternative route to the Adur on a pristine cycleway, flanked by fields in which the grass grew tall. Soon the wide river came into view, which we crossed, and passing through the ancient Salts parishes of yesteryear found ourselves on the eastern bank on the old railway track. Back then through the northern suburbs of Shoreham, where David took his leave, and beneath the railway bridge at Southwick to Shoreham Lock.

Glancing idly down at the collection of Sunday boaters waiting for the lock gates – all amateur maritime life is to be observed there – the party unanimously decided that a swim was irresistible. The water temperature was perfect for cooling off after twenty miles or so of midsummer cycling and a certain stoniness of beach did not discourage us. The author learned that Lycra cycling shorts and tiny pebbles are unfortunately inseparable, and that this does not increase saddle comfort. No matter. Suitably cooled we headed off to take tea in a suburban garden in Hove. Apple and blackberry cake, muesli bars and fresh strawberries were thoughtfully provided by Wendy and Sikka.

Paintings on building at Woodsmill.

The author hopes that our predecessors of 1893 are looking down on us benevolently and feeling that our summer idylls are not so impossibly different from theirs. Thanks again to Leon, without whom…


EXTRA! a video from Leon:

The Last Ride: ‘Brunch’ ride to Carat’s café – Tuesday 3 January 2017

9 January 2017

Clarion new year ride to Carat's cafe

A record turn-out?

There was Jenny and Leon, Chris, Roger and Sue
Charlotte, Kate, Julian, Joyce, Linda too.
There was Mick and Mick S, Joyce and Suzanne
Sue, Fred and Richard who chatted with Anne
With the red berets of Prudence and Julia
There you have our band all peculiar:
Twenty tough riders all wrapped up warm
That’s how to start the year – with a Clarion swarm.

But seriously, folks, thanks to Ian B for leading the ride, and it was great to see Sue B when we got to Carats. Chris from Lewes, resplendent in his Edwardian tweed jacket and matching waistcoat, suffered a puncture which proved too tricky to mend but luckily he was able to rejoin us later in the morning.

Tales of rides all over Europe and into deepest Hove were discussed as well as a myriad of other topics as is the Clarion wont.

Clarion new year ride to Carat's cafe

Never have so many been photographed by so many. Flickr will be awash, so don’t forget to look at the Clarion Flickr site.


The Last Ride: Sunday 18 September 2016 – Lucky Thirteen Cycle to Littlehampton

21 September 2016

Shoreham Station

Saturday had been cold & dull with NE wind, but Sunday brought sunshine & thus a big turn-out for David’s ride from Shoreham to Littlehampton. For some of us it was a long ride – 30 miles there & back again, Mick found it not long enough so cycled from East Brighton & back home again, making 45 miles. Prudence cycled to Shoreham but took the train home from there with Tessa, me, & Sue, making her ride 35 miles approx.

The train out was full, with bike carriage loaded with Julian, Julia, Sue, Angela D. & the guard who told me to park in another coach. Tessa got on at Hove & joined my coach, along with a young woman with a huge case of luggage who was going to university in Wales for the new term & a mum & baby in a pushchair. In the rush & tumble of getting off at Shoreham, where the student had to get off, in order for our 2 bikes to get past the baby buggy, I realised, once the train had left, that I must have left my bike helmet on the train table. The guard at Shoreham made valiant attempts to intercept the missing helmet, phoning Worthing station & Lancing, but to no avail.

David, Mick, Prudence, Angela C. & Helen had made their various ways to the meeting point & we then set off, meeting Marilyn at Shoreham Beach. We progressed along the sea-front NCN2 route to Worthing, then on to The Bluebird Cafe at Ferring, which was very busy. Mick, Sue, & Tessa went in the sea for quick swim & some others queued up endlessly for their coffee & bit of cake. I was wary of the “outfall pipe” at the beach there, but David, who is a water engineer, assured me it was safe. However, there was a large group of contented seagulls enjoying the waters by the outfall, so I was not entirely convinced.

Beach at the Bluebird Cafe

We then wandered in & out of the private roads around the posh estates of Kingston Gore, Angmering & Rustington, admiring the large houses, mature trees & beautiful gardens & topiary. It involved lifting the bikes over several locked gates as the private estates were not welcoming cyclists. Thank you Mick & David for the heavy lifting.

Lunch was at the new harbour in a social enterprise cafe called Harbour Lights with good food & great views. A large group of swans with many brown adolescent cygnets lounged around & drank from a couple of buckets set out for them. You could see the water running down inside their long necks & we were lucky, after our lunch, to avoid the green, slimy deposits they left behind when they had taken to the water!

After lunch, Corinne & Julia decided they had had enough & decamped to Littlehampton Station for return train. Then there were 11. Think it was the same way back, but this time we stopped at the Sea Lane Cafe on the beach. By then there were less of us – fewer of us! Queues again & grand array of cakes & choccy tiffin. Julian decided he would go straight home from there & Angela D disappeared too.

So around 7 of us joined the queues for ice-creams, tea & cakes. Mick had a double chocolate & raspberry torte which was packed with calories, so he had to cycle all the way home to burn some of them off. Helen & Angela C. decided to cycle straight back to their transport at Shoreham too. Then there was 6 or 7, or 5!  All getting a bit tired by then & there were dark clouds & autumn returned after the morning’s Indian summer…

Marilyn stopped for a rest near home at Shoreham but gallant leader David, escorted us almost all the way back to the station & 4 of us caught the train, after a short wait of 7 minutes. This was enlivened by a seagull on the station’s corrugated roof who had in his beak … a pair of glasses! He was obviously delighted with his prize & I wished Fred had been with us to capture the moment for us all. If anyone has lost their specs recently they may be on the station roof!

At Brighton Station I asked again after my helmet & the security guard fetched a charming young woman Keeper of the Lost Property, who had no helmet but gave me a card with phone numbers to ring to report it.

I arrived home around 6.15 to find Mick had been back 45 minutes. Both tired after a very pleasant ride, with no hills, a new harbour & new restaurant – well worth revisiting. 13 is quite a large number to manage but no-one was lost & all enjoyed both the company & the cycling. Thank you David for leading us, shepherding us, reccying the ride with Terri’s help & “counting us out & counting us in” as in the classic Falklands War commentary. My maths is a bit wonky on the comings & goings but I believe we all had a marvellous day of sunshine, sea & fellowship, exercise, refreshments & chance to chat, socialise, swim & have a little adventure. Chat was varied as ever, with Brexit, Burma, Vietnam, Labour Party Leader Re-election & impending cycle restrictions on railway, on my list. The first on the list led me to happily recall Robb Johnson’s song on Brexit & since Ian asked previously for cycling songs, this was running round my head as the legs pedalled! “Turkeys voted Christmas,/Canaries voted cats,/Soldiers voted over the top/And the headless voted HATS!”


The Next Ride : Saturday 2 January 2015 Our Traditional Brunch Ride

17 December 2015


After the experience of the last two years the preference of nearly everyone seems to have the ride on 2nd rather than than the  1st. The poll I conducted last year was decisive and I can’t imagine that preferences have changed in 12 months As always, I’m hoping that this easiest of starts to the year may tempt out some of those we seldom see – or even have yet to see.  Since Carats is likely to be a might less busy than on New Year’s Day I’ve made the start time half an hour later than in the old days.

Meet by the Palace Pier at 10.30 a m – or along the route at e g Maroccos.  Only about 9 miles, (there and back) – plus from home to the Pier of course.

Do check your emails on New Year’s day – after 5 pm just in case.


The Last Ride: Sunday 1 November 2015 – Shoreham to Littlehampton “Circular?”

3 November 2015

Start at Shoreham Station

David had long wanted to create a safe ride from Shoreham Beach along the coast to Littlehampton avoiding the busy A259, railway crossings, roundabouts and traffic lights, since the days when Linda used to cycle with us.  Now she travels as far as Venice, but did today join the ride at Widewater.  The pre-start photo at Shoreham-by-the-Sea Station south-side thus did not include her.  David’s camera was wielded by a kindly van driver to record Angela, Chris, David, Delia, Julian, Richard and Sikka.  Julian and Sikka had come by train, Angela and Delia had brought their cycles by car, Chris and David had cycled there.  At 10.30 we set off passing St Mary de Haura Church and crossed over the new Adur steel swing-bridge and then west on the Shoreham beach road to Widewater still in the mist with little to see apart from two Little Egrets and a few Swans. 

Flock of Little Egrets
Here are the egrets David saw on the recce

No sign of the usual Little Grebes, or Cormorants hanging out their wings to dry.

cormorants on Widewater Lagoon
But here are some cormorants David saw on the recce

After passing the Lancing Sailing Club and the Green we carefully cycled past the doors of the newly-opened Perch Café on the beach, from which the wafts of cooking spoke of an early lunch: and Chris said his wife had found it a good buy.  The coastal path followed to Worthing Pier and on to the end of the promenade and after passing a newly sown field with gulls resting and a flock of dunlins busily pecking away, we turned briefly inland to the end of Marine Drive into Ferring and a strong-coffee stop at the Bluebird Café.  Then the able men lifted the cycles up onto the beach and soon after over a five-barred gate as well.  We cycled carefully through quiet, private roads of the rich and famous, eventually, as David put it, to be disgorged into Sea Lane and the beach in Rustington.  A short ride along the promenade of the newly-developed harbour in Littlehampton, got us to the Harbour Lights café in the Look and Sea building by 12.50, after about 13 miles.  Delia and Linda sat outside and the other six had a reserved table against a mirror wall.  The meals were scoffed down with coffee, beer and lemonade, which included soup, fish pie, jacket potatoes with tuna and baked salmon.  Just outside a loving mother Swan was caring for her two handsome large cygnets with their perfectly clean feathers.

Coffee at Bluebird Cafe

The return journey was blessed at 2.50 pm with sunlight and a blue sky until we reached the Sea Lane Café where Delia, Linda and Sikka decided to continue on.  It soon got cold and misty and after coffee, hot chocolate and apple crumble and a concerned discussion about the lack of jobs for school leavers, Angela, Chris, David and Julian slogged their way back past Widewater where three Little Grebes were diving, but again not much to see.  Just before the Adur bridge Chris and David said goodbye, leaving Angela and Julian to return to the Shoreham Station where the barrier was down for trains in each direction, and once re-opened Angela went to her car to squeeze in her cycle, and Julian just missed an eight coach train and waited 15 minutes for a four coach train to dismount at Hove Station, finally reaching home at 5.30 pm.

Thank you to David for a ride with no “undulations” along the 26 miles, so welcome after Jim’s last two rides, though there were a range of rigid speed bumps across the private roads.


The Last Ride: Sunday 12 July 2015 – “Urban to Rural Peregrination”

14 July 2015

Led by Leon


Our leader, complete with flashing helmet!

The ride started at the Velo Cafe on The Level with Dave, Ian, Joyce, Julian, Kate, Leon, Lucas, Rob (H) and Sikka-Sue passing on the south side of St. Bartholomew’s picking up the NCN20 and continuing north along the side of Preston Road.  But at Preston Park, Ian’s bike gave trouble, that neither he nor Rob could fix and so he returned home.  Along the London Road, by the mini-Sainsbury’s, Jim joined.


More orchids

Leon stopped us to admire the orchids by the side of the road

At the Mill Road roundabout on the London Road, we turned left briefly up Mill Road and right passing under the A27 into Waterhall Road and onto the track on the west side of the very noisy A23 right up to the Pyecombe filling station. It had begun to rain appropriately at Waterhall, but then held off until after a short stretch west on the A281 over the roundabout and south down through Poynings past the church. The headwind and rain continued on the undulating road through Fulking and Edburton (and the steepest hill), along a short stretch of the A2037 which was then crossed onto a snaking bridleway going through one normal gate, quickly followed by a gate so narrow that bikes had to be lifted vertically to clear the handlebars and get through.

The Awkward Gate

The Awkward Gate – the vertical post had seemingly been inserted just to make life hard for cyclists!

Soon we came to Smugglers Lane, heading NW before turning south through Upper Beeding to The Rising Sun Inn for lunch.

Smugglers Lane

At the end of Smugglers Lane: L-R Leon, Lucas, Kate, Joyce, Sikka, Julian. Rob and Dave were elsewhere. Photo by Jim.

The Sunday menu only extended to two meat and one nut roasts, but luckily the vegetarians could chose the nut roast. Their helpings were enormous and four of us made up a complete plate donated to Jim who had got to the bar just after the nut roasts had run out.

(L-R) Rob Joyce Sue

At the Rising Sun: L-R Rob, Joyce, Sue

Bob Harber at the Rising Sun Upper Beeding 12-7-15

Bob Harber popped into the pub to say hello over a pint.

After the leisurely lunch we set off on the minor road west through Bramber, with light rain for a short while, and then south onto the Downs Link, where just north of Botolph’s Church, Joyce, Leon and Lucas chose to go on the Coombes Road, while Dave, Jim, Julian, Kate, Rob and Sikka continued on the Downs Link on the east side of the River Adur, and we all joined up again by the renovated wooden Old Shoreham Bridge, that replaced the former Toll Bridge.  Dave could remember paying sixpence to cross this bridge when it was on the main road before the A27 bridge was constructed to its north, which in turn has affected the river flow here, he explained.

At the Shoreham Station Kate and Jim took the train, and the rest of us joined the NCN2 towards the harbour, while at Southwick Park Dave left for home. At the start of the Monarch’s Way Lucas continued on, and in Carat’s Cafe Joyce, Julian, Leon, Rob and Sikka indulged in coffees and cakes. The tail wind along the final stretch towards Hove was strong enough to speed us with little effort on the pedals. At Grand Avenue Julian turned north arriving home at 4.30 pm having covered 26.5 miles in all, while the others headed on towards the Brighton Pier.


The last ride: Sunday 14 June – “Pier to Pier” (Brighton to Worthing and back)

17 June 2015

A small but intrepid group gathered outside the Palace Pier for Sunday’s ride to Worthing Pier and back: Amanda, our Captain for the day, David, Chris, Fred, Mick and Anne, plus Simon from Suffolk, from our Cuba trip last year, on a hired Brompton. But Mick and Anne had only come to see us off! (The rumour was that they were to attend the Naked Bike Ride later in the day!) As we set off, we were joined by Corinne, so that made six.

The start at the Palace pier

The weather was overcast with a slight chill in the air, ideal for cycling. We dodged tourists on the seafront cycle path, passed the i360 sections waiting to be erected by the West Pier and soon we were in Hove and then Shoreham harbour. We crossed the lock gates and followed the blue NCN signs through Southwick into Shoreham, through an Italian market by the church and over the new footbridge to Shoreham Beach.

Shoreham lock gates

We stopped at Widewater Lagoon briefly and spotted a kestrel and little egret along with swans and biplanes heading for the airport. There was a dingy race going on out at sea at Lancing and the pier was now in sight – and it was cycle lanes all the way. At the pier we were greeted by the Salvation Army band! We were early at the Denton, so managed to grab a couple of tables for lunch, mainly of club sandwiches and gastro-chips. I was disappointed to find they had no Harvey’s on tap, but the soup was excellent.

Lunch at the Denton

After lunch I stayed on in Worthing and Shoreham to visit some Open Houses in the Worthing and Adur Art Trails and made my own way back on the electric later.


Worthing pier

Amanda adds:

Thanks Fred!

After Fred’s departure for the Worthing Open Houses, our return journey was skilfully navigated for us by Dave and Chris who were familiar with the route and we departed the route to leave for home one by one until finally only Chris was left to complete the last five miles to north Brighton.

Many thanks to our de facto leaders – Fred, Dave and Chris and to everyone who came along for some Clarion fun and fellowship.

Leon adds: Joyce and Leon attended again this year’s Naked Bike Ride, its Tenth year in Brighton. There were approx. 1000 riders. Pity we didn’t see any Clarion members on the ride or even on the side of the route.

More photos on Flickr.

The last ride: Sunday 22 February 2015 – Shoreham to Partridge Green and back

25 February 2015


The day started with lovely sunshine as Mick, Ann, Delia, Julian and I met at Shoreham station. It seemed that all of us were aware that the weather forecast for mid-afternoon was not good at all, with both rain and very high winds coming in.  With that in mind, we set off very promptly and agreed not to stop too often in order, hopefully, to make it back before three-ish and avoid a soaking.

Iconic photo of the South Downs National Park

So, off we went through Shoreham, crossed the A27 and proceeded up Coombes Rd towards Annington. I think that some of us had a little bit of difficulty with the ‘not stopping’ agreement and in fact did not abide too strictly by it. How can you not want to stop and stare at a field blanketed with snow drops? And, looking across the fields and river to the right of Coombes Rd, looms the old cement works which I personally think should be blown up, but Ann pointed out that there are a number of houses nearby, so it’s probably not a good idea.

Iconic photo of the South Downs National Park

We were then cycling towards Botolphs and Steyning and despite some road noise from the by-pass, the bird song was delightful. Having Julian with us meant that some of the bird song was identified as rooks, a green woodpecker and a great tit, which Julian said sounded like a tyre being pumped up!


As usual on our rides you see some amazing cottages and houses. Just before Ashurst, Mick and Delia had stopped by a place called Wappingthorne Manor so that the rest of us could catch up. One expects a manor to be a fairly wapping great big house, so we thought it was very aptly named! We also passed Wappingthorne Farm and we noticed that there were not just large silos pointing towards the sky, but two castle-like towers which look very old, possibly from Norman times, and seem very out of place.


From here we were not too far from Partridge Green and our lunch time destination at Stan’s Bike Shed. The Shed is absolutely lovely. It isn’t very big, perhaps accommodating 20 people or so around tables with an outside seating area for when the weather is warmer. Between us, we had an assortment of soup and ciabattas and all agreed that the quality of the food was extremely good. The Shed also serves really lovely coffee and has a great choice of different teas. There were quite a number of cyclists having lunch alongside us and we got chatting to a couple from Horsham who had cycled along part of the Downslink. Their clothing looked a lot muddier than ours and they told us that the route was quite challenging, so we decided that we would not take the Downslink route back as planned, but just go back the way we had come.

Stan's Bike Shack, Partridge Green

So off we went, and by now the weather was changing and we were cycling into the wind. Mick and Delia cycled ahead and as we got closer to Shoreham, Julian suggested that he, Ann and I veer off to the Downslink and take pot luck that it would not be too muddy and be able to get off the road for a bit. It turned out that it was it was fine and more sheltered from the wind. The river, which runs alongside the trail, was incredibly choppy and it was now spitting with rain, so we ploughed on but did take time to stop to look at the wonderful wooden sculpture of the heron.


As we approached Shoreham the rain began to get heavier and we were all very relieved that we did not have much further to go. Ann and Julian said they would like to go for tea somewhere in the town and to meet up with Mick and Delia. Unfortunately, I needed to get back home so I said my goodbyes and left them to link up with the others.


Thank you so much to Ann and Mick for planning the ride as it was a very lovely day out, and good luck to Mick on his future night-ride from London to Brighton, or is it Brighton to London – sadly I don’t think I will ever have the stamina for a ride like that!


[More photos on Flickr]

The next ride: Shoreham, Partridge Green & Wiston

11 February 2015

We propose the 10.00 train from Brighton to Shoreham. It arrives at 10.15. 

We take the Coombes Road to Steyning, rather than the Downslink, then the B2135 up to Stan’s Bike Shack at Partridge Green, where there will be hot soup & delicious sandwiches, super hot choc & coffees, cakes but no ale.

Return via Wiston & [hopefully ] Mouse Lane. It is the latter Lane we investigated today but were told by the estate office at Wiston House that we cannot cycle that way. After lunch I investigated the Downslink & it looked idyllic to me , so we will recce that on Sunday when Mick swaps his road bike for the Ridgeback. For the ride I would hope to lead the willing down the Downslink & Mick would lead the roadsters back via Spithandle Lane.

Opportunity for tea stop at Wiston [bit soon after lunch according to Mick], Shoreham Airport or Steyning. Mick prefers Shoreham Airport for tea & the meeting up of the 2 groups, if there are 2 groups. Downslink off-roaders could continue down to Shoreham if desired & possible weatherwise.
Trains back: from Shoreham more frequent 16.03, 16.20, 16.38, 16,49, 17.07.

Terrain;  all roads though off-road option, maybe short section on fairly busy A238, though I hope to avoid that. Stan [Steve?] says Partridge Green section of Downslink is best bit. We’ll check it out. Somewhat undulating, but nothing steep.

Distance 11 miles before lunch, then maybe 13 after lunch.


The Last Ride: Sunday 2 November – Shoreham Circular in the Rain

5 November 2014

There were still patches of blue sky when I arrived at Shoreham station for a 10 o’clock departure, and I wasn’t really expecting anyone to be there, with a start from Portslade always being the best option. At 10.45h, after the customary group photo, I set off for the start of the Dyke Railway Trail where I thought there might be a couple of more riders to join me.

Group photo

Rendez-vous at Dyke Railway

Undeterred, I started the leisurely climb to the top of Devil’s Dyke and shared an animated discussion with some other visitors about the breath-taking views from the summit.

The Devil's Dyke

Cruising back down the hill and passing the Dyke Golf Course Clubhouse, I contemplated whether I should snap up this special offer for spending my winter months hacking towards some sodden greens.

Cheap golf at the Dyke

It was now downhill all the way to Saddlescombe Farm and a spot of lunch at the Hikers’ Rest.

The Hikers' Rest

After some surprisingly tasty organic coffee, I was able to direct some fellow cyclists who had come over the Downs from Amberley, back to Brighton station, as one of their group had got his bike stuck in top gear.

Stuck in top gear

As it had just started to rain quite heavily, I opted for a hearty lunch of an organic lamb pasty, just when another group headed off to conquer the Downs Way in the mud.

A hearty lunch

After an hour the rain temporarily ceased and I headed off through Poynings and Fulking, to meet up with the second group of cyclists who had been washed off the Downs and we joined up to cycle back to Steyning together.

Honduran coffee at Tom's Foolery

I was back in Shoreham by 3pm for a cup of the best Honduran coffee on the south coast at Tom Foolery, and in plenty of time to get to Ropetackle for a Glynebourne-style picnic and production of Tosca.

Somehow along the way I had missed Julian, who I can only think had started from the Railway Trail just before I arrived, and got to the Hiker’s Rest while I was still sight-seeing on The Dyke, and then decided not to stop for lunch.