Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us, we each take part in rides at our own risk.
Three Bridges – East Grinstead – Lingfield – Crowhurst – Blindley Heath – Smallfield – Horley – Gatwick – Three Bridges
(Please contact me if you are thinking of coming: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The last time we did this ride, in September 2008, Leon reported that it was ‘without doubt the most enjoyable that I have been on’. Everyone else, me included, thought it was a disaster – ankle-deep mud, a herd of scary-looking bullocks, and the leader (that’s me) losing his way! However, that was just Blindley Heath; the rest of it was OK. So I’ve changed the route slightly so we don’t actually go across the heath but round it, and it also has a different ending incorporating the four miles of NCN21 between Gatwick and Three Bridges, which I don’t think we’ve done before, plugging the gap in my ‘Route 21 Trilogy’, of which it therefore becomes Part 2½.
I hope no one has grown tired of the WORTH WAY yet. I certainly haven’t – it’s so flat, quiet, and dapply when the sun is out. If you are, just shut your eyes for the first 8 miles!
LUNCH will once again be at the Star at Lingfield. The menu is slightly more restricted than last time, and pricier, but they do have soup and other ‘starters’ that are affordable, and they have a big garden, though sadly now bereft of small furry animals. I will probably book a table, so let me know if you are coming.
PICNICS. On a couple of rides recently some of us have sat in a pub garden hiding picnic food on our laps. I do not think we should be so coy about this. Owing to the English tradition of not sharing tables with strangers, non-paying customers do not actually take up space that could be occupied by paying customers; so the pub are not losing out as long as some of us buy food (and I definitely will, as I am hopeless at picnics). So bring food if you want to!
After lunch we may have another look at the fourteenth-century St Peter & Paul’s Church at Lingfield, though probably without a guided tour this time around; then there is Crowhurst (Surrey) and the BENTLEY MILE, a straight tree-lined avenue (actually only half a mile long) which originally led to Ardenrun, the country estate of ‘Babe’ Wolf Barnato, a famous and extremely rich 1920s socialite who was also a works Bentley driver and winner of many sportscar and Le Mans races. Ardenrun was razed to the ground overnight by fire, following a ‘magnificent party’.
The Red Barn is a possible alternative lunch venue, but probably even pricier (it’s probably where all the toffs go after they have raced their Bentleys), so I am inclined to stick to the Star.
After skirting round Blindley Heath we make for Smallfield, then pick up Route 21 near Horley and follow it, through the now-familiar RIVERSIDE GARDEN PARK, to Gatwick (with a possible tea stop in Horley en route). Then comes the new bit. OK it’s not all up to the standard of the garden park, but some of it is interesting – including the BEEHIVE, the airport’s original 1936 terminal building, now used as offices. It is in the centre of a new industrial/office complex known as CITY PLACE, which I found quite eerily quiet on the practice ride and will no doubt be more so on a Sunday.
Finally to Three Bridges via a maze of on-pavement and off-road cycle paths, and there will, I am afraid, be further ceremonial erections of Clarion NCN21 signs to replace the ones Sustrans didn’t quite get round to installing. (Thanks to which my journey from Gatwick to Three Bridges on the practice was 8 miles long instead of 4!) We can also amuse ourselves by counting the number of roads in that area that are named after famous scientists and engineers, of which there seem to be many.
Length: 27 miles (23 miles if returning from Gatwick).
Duration: about 6 hours including lunch and tea stops.
Terrain: Mostly country lanes; three off-road sections of which one (Worth Way) is Sustrans standard and the other two can be avoided if wet.
Meet at Three Bridges Station (by the bike racks) at 10:50 am. Suitable trains are: 10:00 or 10:15 from Brighton; 9:51 from Hove; 9:22 from Lewes; 10:02 from London Victoria; 10:14 from London Bridge.
Jim (mobile 07742 963239)