Sunday 1 May 2011
Rye – Winchelsea Beach – Pett Level – Fairlight – Hastings
In the first circular of 2011, Ian asked: “Can we think of something really appropriate for 1 May?” So I looked on the internet and found the Jack-in-the-Green Festival at Hastings (www.hastingsjack.co.uk), and suggested we go there. However it did not quite fit the bill, because it turned out that (a) what Ian had in mind was the political, rather than the pagan, aspect of Mayday; and (b) there is not much going on on the Sunday of Jack-in-the-Green anyway. (Political activities tend to take place on the bank holiday of course, and so too does the main event of Jack-in-the-Green, because, as its website stresses, it is a modern re-invention of a traditional festival and certain concessions have been made to modern ways of doing things.)
Jenny suggested instead the Celtic Festival at Michelham Priory; but I had by now firmly got the Hastings bit between my teeth, having gazed longingly at all those contour-free areas on the OS map to the north-east of the town. (As distinct from the contour-rich areas, which include Hastings itself).
Mere mention of Rye may, of course, strike terror in the hearts of some Clarionettes, but to them I would say “Calm down! This isn’t July 2008, and anyway we are going the other way!” And mention of a climb from 0 to 160 metres above sea level may strike terror in other hearts, so I won’t mention it, other than to say that most of that is a short steep bit that we will walk up. In fact, as I implied earlier, we cling to the “0” contour for a whole 6 miles before setting our sights any higher, so there is a reasonable degree of flatness in this ride. And the climbing will be worth it when we get to the top!
It is only 11.5 miles from Rye to Hastings Old Town, so we will arrive in time to see some morris dancing and an exhibition about the festival. At 4pm there is a concert by the Copper Family (£5) for anyone who wants to stay on, or, for those who prefer it, drumming in the streets (free). Later, Robb Johnson will be giving a concert at 8pm (£8). The last train to Brighton leaves Hastings at 10.18 pm, so it will be possible to see at least some of this, and if you do it will tick Ian’s “political” box as well, because Robb is one of our foremost socialist songwriters, and definitely worth seeing. Those of a more traditional bent may prefer Les Derniers Trouvères (£8).
Lunch will be at the Coastguard Tea Room (150 m. a.s.l.), before the descent into Hastings; I have booked a table, but need to know numbers, so please tell me if you are planning to come ( email@example.com). Oxygen cylinders will not be supplied.
Length: about 12.5 miles. (The last mile is from the Old Town to Hastings Station)
Duration: about 3 hours (including lunch).
Terrain: Lanes and bridleways. (The bridleways are the grassy sort and unlikely to get muddy.)
Start time and place: Front of Rye Station, 11.50 am. (If you don’t want to have to carry your bike over the footbridge, leave the platform at the Ashford end and go along the path, over the level crossing, then take the second right and go through the car park to the front of the station).
We will have to be careful about trains, not only because of the barrier line jobsworths, but because the Rye trains are only 2 car. The 10.20 from Brighton will arrive in time, but I will be on the one before it (the 9.20) and will have a coffee or two at the “Fat Controller” café while I wait. Londoners can travel to Rye from the opposite direction, via Ashford, but will need to leave London Bridge at 9.16 and wait for nearly an hour at Ashford. The wait is shortened to 30 minutes if you can get the High-Speed from St Pancras International at 10.12. When you contact me to confirm attendance, tell me your preferred mode of travel and I will check that we are not squeezing too many onto one train.
Return trains to Brighton leave Hastings at 3 minutes past each hour; to London Bridge (via Tonbridge) at 13 minutes past, and to Clapham Junction and Victoria at 18 minutes past.