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

5 January 2015

We meet at what I still think of as the Palace Pier at 10.15, proceeding via the Undercliff Walk to Peacehaven, up to Hoddern Farm and down to Piddinghoe. From Piddinghoe we cycle, carefully, 3 miles on the Newhaven/ Lewes road to Southease. At Southease we will go and have a look at the new Egrets Way. Unfortunately after a short period we will have to retrace our steps because some xxxxxx farmer has requested that the cinder path be discontinued. So although the Egrets Way continues it is more or less impassable at this time of the year and the farmer prefers to gouge huge ruts on it with his tractor. Back on the road it is only another half a mile to the Abergavenny Arms for lunch.

After lunch we go back to Southease and take the road to Telscombe. It is undeniable that this involves a hill but only the first hundred yards or so may need to be walked, without shame, and it will warm us up and provide magnificent views over the Downs.

The alternative would be to cycle 3 miles on to Lewes and get the train back from there.

So we then return via the Tye to the Undercliff Walk, where there is always the possibility of the wonderful cakes at the Ovingdean Café.

In all about 19 miles. My mobile is 07803 730401.

Anne and Mick


The Last Ride: Sunday 22 January 2012 – The valley of the Ouse (Part One)

23 January 2012

At the crack of dawn Anne, Joan, Mick, Roger, Sean, Suzanne, Tessa and TJ all clambered off a Southern Rail train at Seaford and were met by our leader for the day, Jim, as well as Rob who had valiantly brought his Moulton “pick-a-back” on his motor vehicle. To everyone’s disappointment Rob found that a tyre had split and so had to miss the morning part of the ride, suppliers of Moulton tyres being limited to two within the UK and therefore not easily accessible from Seaford on a Sunday morning.

1.At Seaford Station

The first part of our exhilarating ride took us all of 200 yards to Seaford’s magnificently restored … public conveniences with their bike-shaped bike stands outside. Then, our backs to the playful wind, we sailed through the town to the far east “cliff” end where we wheeled round, gritted our teeth and rode into the teeth of the wind (yes, a mouthful of gnashers!). Mercifully, after a whole 500 yards (Brighton and Hove Clarion does not deal in metres – let’s hope there is never an Easter Meet where it is decided that they are the legal measurements for the organisation) Jim suggested that we pay our £1.50 (£1.00 for senior citizens) to visit the Seaford Museum in the Martello Tower. UNMISSABLE. We were given a warm greeting by the lady on the cash desk and even a brief introductory talk and then down into the bowels of the tower to roam amongst the fascinating exhibits – all collected and curated by volunteers. The more adventurous braved the winds and explored the roof of the tower.

2.Sean gazes out to sea

There was just one minor problem with the visit. Jim had terrible trouble tearing us all away from the fascinating nooks and crannies, videos and paintings, artefacts and relics. But our visit to the museum solved at least one important mystery for us: there was a map which very clearly showed how, until about the sixteenth century, the River Ouse (feature of the day) flowed into Newhaven, veered east behind a shingle bank and debouched (word of the day) just under Seaford Head cliffs.

Emerging from the wonderful museum, teeth were once more gritted and we battled our way personfully along Seaford prom, having a quick look at the Buckle, a modern house with an old-looking tower but, the whole having been built in 1963, it is only the historical plaque on the gate that is really of any interest.

3.The Buckle

What did catch the imagination of all of us was our visit to the site of the Tide Mills half way between Seaford and Newhaven, built on the very shingle bank that had eventually blocked off the River Ouse. Now, on a bleak (this is January, after all), wind-swept stretch of shingle, we used the interesting notices dotted around to imagine the bustling life of the corn mills (1761 – c.1900), of Bishopstone Beach halt (1864–1942), of the station-master’s house, of Chailey Heritage Marine Hospital and nurses’ home (1924–1940) and, last but not least, the thousands of Canadian soldiers briefly billeted there before the disastrous failed raid on Dieppe on 19 August 1942.

5.Tide Mills

With all these ghosts around us, we set off back into the modern world of present-day Newhaven with its shed-like supermarkets, fast-food outlets and DIY emporia, but once over the swing bridge it was back into the quainter, if very modern, harbour development. By which time we were more than glad to see the Hope Inn at the end of the harbour road. Welcoming as ever, they had reserved the lovely upstairs conservatory (view of the Ouse “oblige”) for us and a tasty meal was soon on its way – even for Rob who had managed to get there by car.

8.He who would go to sea for amusement would go to hell for pleasure

A yatter-yatter-yatter hour later we said goodbye to Rob for the last time of the day and faced north, through the rather sad (but cycle-friendly) remains of the Newhaven town and out on the open road to follow the Ouse. First stop was Piddinghoe and – a first for many of us – a short detour behind the church to see the fast-runnning Ouse at close quarters.

11.By the river

Southease was the next village to benefit from a Clarion visit; those interested in engineering went off to admire the newly refurbished 1880 swing bridge; those too knackered to get that far visited the tiny but ancient church, most of which dates back to 966.

Iford brought us to another church, which looked a bit more modern. Wrong. Most of the present-day church had already been built by 1100. Inside there was a wealth of fascinating wall painting, stained glass and other church furniture that had us reaching for the guidebook.

And yet our history lessons were not quite over. A quiet little back road (past the Lewes Football Club and a Southern Water depot to be precise) brought us to Lewes Priory. OK, we had all seen it from the train. Did any of those of us who had not been there before have the slightest idea how extensive the remains are? They’re still huge – despite the “historically sensitive” Victorians having driven their railway right through the centre of the (admittedly already) ancient ruins of the massive Cluniac church.

18.Lewes Priory

Mick, Sean, Joan and TJ all made a dash for the 4.14. The remaining five had the pleasure of being “introduced” by Tessa to the Sussex Guild Shop and Gallery in Southover Grange gardens. It made me for one sorry that I was not ready to start my Christmas shopping.

A day of “must go back and look at that again”s. Many thanks to Jim for his guidance on a relatively short but extremely sweet day out.

Suzanne

Jim adds:
NB In answer to your question of about 10 hours ago, the website says the main river *and tributaries* are over 140 miles long in total, but it does not give a length for just the main river, not one I could see immediately anyway.

Incidentally in my extreme tiredness caused by lack of sleep (did it show?) I forgot my ”piece de resistance” – last weekend I discovered that the name Ouse is a “back formation” (I expect you know about those things) – in other words it has been given to the river from the name of a town it flows through, namely Lewes, as in “Aqua de Lewes” => “Aqua de l’Ouse” – and that before that it had a different name entirely. This sort of thing is apparently quite common, especially for river names – Arun is also a back formation (from Arundel, naturally), though Adur seems to be the “proper” name of that river. Source: Brewers’ Dictionary of Names.

[More photos on Flickr]


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.

Joyce

[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.

Practicalities
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.

Roger