The Last Ride: Sunday 5 March 2017 – Marrocco’s, Hove, to the Sea Lane Cafe, Worthing Beach, and back

8 March 2017

This ride was suggested by Alex Southern – he arrived with four other London Members just after 10 am at Marrocco’s. Here he was met by his father who lives in Hove (but just for a brief hello) and only Julian – which must have been a disappointment, which he nobly did not show. It was cloudy and there was quite a strong wind, which two surf gliders were enjoying by racing among the large waves. We rode past Hove Lagoon and on past the Shoreham Power Station to the harbour lock gates. After Southwick we followed the NCN2 route, where a brief rain shower soaked us by the allotments, until we reached the Shoreham swing bridge. Here David and Chris joined us. 
Then over the bridge and past Widewater in a strong headwind that made the seaside cycle track feel as if it were going uphill until we reached Worthing Pier. Linda had joined us a little before, but decided to move on at her faster pace, as we waited after 12 for Alexander, Joan and their three-year old son Nye to join us. These three and Julian went straight on to the Sea Lane Cafe, battling against a strong headwind, of probably up to 30 mph, and for a while the drops of sheeting rain felt like hailstones on their faces. 
The other seven had a coffee pick-me-up opposite the Pier and rode a ‘Goring Loop’ before reaching the cafe somewhat later. The cafe was teeming with customers with a queue first to book a table, then another to order food: – though it did arrive quite promptly. 
For the return journey, Chris and David decided to start back earlier, while the rest of us set off after 2 pm. The  ride back with the wind behind us felt as if we had electric bikes, so fast and smoothly did we glide, even in some sunshine! A little before Shoreham the parents and child peeled off to their new home, having finally moved in last Tuesday. At Southwick Green Julian led an alternative route along Manor Hall Road (passing near St. Julian’s Church!), then under the railway at Fishersgate, and round to the traffic lights at Boundary Road, and then along New Church Road, where, in Church Road, he turned off at The Drive and waved goodbye. He had biked about 26 miles and got home at 4 pm. The others had probably added another 5 miles or so and I expect visited the Brighton Beer Dispensary before boarding the train to London.
Our thanks to Alex – and how he must have wished for another surname given the recent troubles on Southern (rail)!

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 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 Next Ride: Sunday 14 June – “Pier to Pier” (Brighton to Worthing and back)

2 June 2015

Meet at Palace Pier for a 10.10 depart

We will follow the  NCN 2 route  along the sea front from Brighton pier to Worthing pier, just 24 miles there and back – and totally flat.

Lunch at the restaurant on the pier around 12.30.

No afternoon tea stop proposed unless someone wants to stop at Carats; if they do, I will rely on the tea stoppers to find their own way back to Brighton to allow me back to London at a reasonable time.

It will be a longish ride for some; option for train assist on one half of the ride.

My mobile: 07958663974. Happy to have texts any time or calls on the morning of the ride.


The Last Ride: 13 July 2014: Highdown Hill

15 July 2014


On the seafront, west of Worthing

Having nagged Roger to repeat his Highdown Hill ride ever since the last one, way back in September 2009, I was looking forward to this one; but as I set out it didn’t look as though it would be a very popular ride, due to the overcast skies and forecast of rain, quite apart from the mention of a h*** in the ride description. But twelve Clarionettes (Anne, Elaine, Graham, Jim, Julian, Marilyn, Mick, Richard, Roger, Sikka, Suzanne and Tessa) decided to brave the weather, and prove the Met Office wrong – which we did, as we enjoyed warm and sunny weather nearly all day, with just a little breeze and about five raindrops towards the very end.

My report of the previous ride reminds us that Highdown Hill is actually only 81 metres above sea level, and thus considerably less of a hill than, for instance, the Cuckoo trail, which rises through nearly twice that amount from end to end. As before, we approached it cunningly along its gentle northern slope, arriving in astonishment to panoramic views of Worthing, Shoreham, Brighton and even (some of the very clear-sighted among us claimed) Seaford Head.


Looking eastwards from the top of the hill

But first, there was the getting there. This ride started from Worthing, not Goring as last time, so we had a bit further to ride. As before we went through Ferring, over the Rife and alongside it, then inland to Angmering. At one point it was suggested that we should be re-named the Clarion Walking and Cycling Club, because it was impossible to ride through the long grass alongside the Rife. Only later did Roger admit that he’d missed a turning so that we had a lot more Rife than we should have had, ending up on the beach.


Ferring Rife, looking north towards Highdown Hill


Walking through the long grass

This was a picnic ride, with the picnic planned for after the ascent. But Roger had also mentioned a shop in Angmering village for anyone needing to buy food, and in the end we had our lunch on the village green here rather than waiting for the hill. We had crossed the A259 via a huge footbridge which had shallow steps (so no good for wheelchairs, as someone pointed out) with ramps at the side (so rather good for bikes).


At the top of the hill, some of us recalled that previous ride when we had seen a newborn calf. No such luck this time, but there was still the wonderful view. Then past the Miller’s Tomb (fully documented in my previous report) and into the garden, where the Miller’s somewhat premature building of his own coffin and tomb, together with the notice forbidding the scattering of cremated remains, lent a somewhat funereal aspect to the conversation.


After the garden, the café, which was still as delightful as I’d remembered it. Here, as we queued for tea and scones, bread pudding and other delicacies, we encountered an “off-duty” Clarionette, Annie Callaghan, who had come by train.

On the way back to Worthing station, we enacted an old Clarion ritual, the Puncture Repair. Mick had picked up a small, sharp chip of flint which had gone straight through his tyre. Luckily he had a spare tube, I had tyre levers, Richard had pliers, Tessa had a pump and Graham had experience. So most of the group sunbathed on the grass as the usual procedures – such as “forgetting which of two identical inner tubes is the good one”, and “trying to work out which bit of the chain goes round the gear wheels” – were followed. Meanwhile Julian explained how to tell a swift from a swallow by its flight behaviour, and I found a giant fungus that had come off a tree.


Finally Mick was on the road again and we sped on to the station, in time to just miss the Brighton train, Elaine and Graham having departed by car. There was a last minute drama at the station, as Julian’s chain came off and became firmly wedged between frame and cogs; even the pliers would not shift it, so he had to hobble home.

Thanks to Roger for a long-overdue repeat of this lovely ride.


The Next Ride: A Picnic on Highdown H***: Sunday 13 July 2014

3 July 2014

The aim of this short ride will be to have a picnic on Highdown Hill, an attractive piece of countryside just north of Worthing, owned by the National Trust.

We will start at Worthing Station and take a gentle westward spin along the almost interminable seafront.  Look out for a couple of new buildings along the way.  There is a modern block of luxury flats nearing completion just east of Heene Terrace.  Later we’ll pass an elegant new art deco style building, also flats, but smaller.

The seafront does eventually end, at Ferring.  We’ll go briefly off road here to cross Ferring Rife and rejoin the road at Kingston Lane.  Then we’ll cross the railway, followed by the traffic infested A259 (using a pedestrian bridge).

This brings us to Angmering where we’ll stop briefly.  There is a Co-op shop for anyone who needs to buy their picnic lunch.  Then we set off along Dapper’s Lane.  This is when we start the climb up to the Hill.  There are some slightly steep bits but generally speaking it’s reasonably gentle.

The last lap is a bridleway some of which most of us will probably walk.  It brings us out onto the top of the hill with wonderful views.  On a clear day you can see the cliffs at Seaford.  My reaction on arrival was to wonder how I’d made it with so little effort.

Other delights on the hill include the “miller’s tomb” which may or may not have been used in the 18th century to hide goods smuggled by John Olliver, who may or may not have been a miller.  Highdown Gardens can be visited for those interested in flora and fauna.  There is also a café for those who didn’t bring enough picnic.

Once we’ve sampled the delights we’ll make our way back to the station through some of Worthing’s spacious northern suburbs.



Worthing station (south side) at 10:30.

Getting there: 
Take the 10:00 train from Brighton (10:04 from Hove).

17 miles (12 before lunch)

Flat until Angmering, then a mainly gentle climb to the picnic spot.  After that it’s downhill all the way.

Mainly on-road. We’ll use a footpath to cross Ferring Rife and a bridleway and footpath to get on and off the hill – cycle or walk as you wish.

Bring a picnic or buy something in Angmering.  We’ll finish at the station but central Worthing is fairly close by for those who want tea before the train.

Getting home:
Trains to Hove and Brighton at 24, 42 (change at Hove) and 54 past the hour

My mobile:      
0789 985 1172.


The Last Ride: 4 March 2012 – A Worthing Wander

7 March 2012

Four stalwarts – Roger, Suzanne, Terry and Sikka – braved the rain to cycle from Worthing station on an architectural tour of the local suburbs. Starting from complete ignorance I now know the approximate historical sequence: Georgian 1750s to 1820s; Regency 1820 to 1830; Victorian 1830s to 1890s; Edwardian 1890s to 1910? then pre-war and post-war, taking in Art Deco in the 1930s. I hope I’ve got that right!

We were led ‘round the houses’ through a maze of pre- and post-war estates, and chose to brave a bridleway between Goring and Ferring under the gracious canopies of an avenue of old holm oaks. One more offroad track alongside the Kingston Rife (rife = river?) to arrive at the Bluebird Café on Ferring beach for a welcome coffee and drip.

Thence, after wringing out soaked gloves, a short and direct ride following the shore along National Cycle Network Route 2 to the Denton restaurant at Worthing Pier, the last section taking us along the reinstated cycle track on the promenade. As the rain had continued unabated, I was personally thankful to get inside for an early and substantial meal, sitting by the windows looking out onto a sea full of white breakers.

With the rain heavier than ever after lunch, Terry and I were happy to take the train home, leaving Roger and Suzanne braving the wet, apparently determined to continue along the coast route to … Shoreham? Hove? Brighton? … who knows??

Thank you, Roger, for making the most of a somewhat damp Sunday!


The Next Ride: Sunday 4 March 2012 – A winter wander through Worthing

21 February 2012

This is the ride that was cancelled in early February because of the threat of snow, so it is short and hopefully sweet.

We will wander west from Worthing central station through quiet residential streets. Those who are interested in such things can admire the progressive changes in domestic architecture, which reveal the development of the town over the last 100 years or so. But the time line seems to reverse as we leave Worthing proper, and then it loses all rhyme and reason.

We finally reach the end of the suburban sprawl at Ferring. Here we will take a footpath along Ferring Rife and either have a tootle round Kingston Gorse to see where the 1% lives or stop for coffee at the Bluebird café, or possibly both depending on time and weather.

The ride back to central Worthing will be along the seafront, including the now legal cycle path on the promenade from West Worthing to the pier. Lunch will be at the Denton by the pier. Then a short ride through the town centre to the station for those whose choice is the train home. Keenies can carry on cycling along the coast through Shoreham and Hove to Brighton.

Meet: Worthing central station (south side) at 10:15am.
Getting there: 9:50 train from Brighton (9:54 from Hove). Worthing station car park is in Southcourt Road, on the north side of the line and the fee on Sunday is £1.
Distance: About 15 miles, plus an optional 12 or so from Worthing to Brighton.
Hills: None.
Off road: Mainly on quiet, suburban roads and cycle paths with short sections of bridleway and footpath. There is also a short walk along the beach if we include Kingston Gorse.
Catering: Possible morning coffee stop en route. Lunch at the Denton by Worthing Pier.
Getting home: Direct trains to Brighton leave Worthing at 09 minutes past the hour; an alternative is the 41 minutes past the hour, which involves a change at Hove.
My mobile: 0789 985 1172.


Non-ride report: 5 February 2012 – Worthing to LA*† (or “Snow? What snow?”)

7 February 2012

Roger had very sensibly cancelled his planned ride the previous evening, because of the weather forecast. However I was due to visit my daughter in Worthing anyway, and when she phoned in the morning to say there was no snow there, I sent a message to the Google group to see if anyone wanted to do an impromptu ride. John Clinton responded, and so we met up at the Coast Café on Worthing seafront at 1.15, and after a brief snack we set off along the coast in a westerly direction. So as not to steal Roger’s thunder (and anticipating that his ride will now be re-scheduled to a snow-free day) we decided to simply cycle along the coast as far as Littlehampton – or Ford in my case since there were, conveniently, no trains running from the aforementioned station.

We made a lively pace – John is, as all who know him will appreciate, one of those versatile cyclists who can both dawdle along at Clarion pace and race along with the “professionals”. The 14.8 miles to Ford were covered at a very respectable average speed of 11.4 mph, the quickest ride I’ve ever done; I’m usually one of the “dawdlers”, but I found I could keep up with John, and, on a day when the weather was not exactly tropical, the speed helped to warm us up. Thankfully, in addition to the absence of snow, there seemed to be very little wind.

John very kindly accommodated my few requests for a photo-stop, and the results can be seen on Flickr. On the way we talked of many things, and he explained to me what an Audax is. (I don’t think I will ever see one from the inside!)


We turned inland at Ferring, and passed through East Preston, West Preston (which is where Angmering Station is – the real Angmering having featured in several Clarion rides), and Rustington before regaining the seafront behind the East Beach Café at Littlehampton (I had never seen the back of it before!).

East Beach Cafe

On through “LA”* and then over the bridge to Climping (as it says on the map) or Clymping (as the road sign would have it) and here we parted company at the A259 roundabout, John returning the way he had come (and I hasten to add that he had cycled all the way from Brighton).


On the approach to Ford Station I suddenly saw what had happened to all the snow we were promised. It was on the Downs!

Snow-covered Downs

Many thanks to John for his companionship and patience.


[More photos on Flickr]

* Railway abbreviation for Littlehampton (say it with a Cockney accent).
† Actually Ford, but LA looks better.

The last ride: 20 February 2011. Shoreham to Worthing

22 February 2011

16 Clarionistas cause traffic jam in Worthing suburbs

(Well not quite a traffic jam, but certainly not something the cars were used to …)

[Lots more photos on Flickr]

We owe this particular ride to Roger’s quick thinking and his willingness to go out on a very rainy Saturday to test the ride. That was made necessary because the planned ride had to be abandoned so as not to conflict with the half marathon on that day and hour. So Ann, Mick, Roger, Suzanne, Fred, Corinne, Wilma, and Joyce met up at Brighton Station, soon to be joined, with surprise and delight, by our delegation from London: TJ, Joan and James, who were happily breakfasting in the bar.

The start

The weather was acceptable, overcast but no rain. However, a blot was put on the outing when only three people were allowed through the gate on the “order” of a “uniform” who said he would “go to see if it was all right to let us through”. (And this for a train which turned out to have only 36 passengers, 200 seats and 8 carriages …) More sense from the gate though, when on request we were let through to “see”. So another lot went through. The “uniform”, busily talking to a passenger, seemed to have forgotten us and we boarded. However TJ, Joan and James who were behind us were not allowed on. No problem, they got the next train, Mick waited for them at Shoreham and they soon caught us up, but a really unnecessary piece of officialdom. At Shoreham Leon, Jenny, Angela, Sue and Janet joined us, now we were 16! Is that a record?

Over the tollbridge

Off we went for the Toll Bridge and then on to Worthing. Who knew that all those houses lie behind what we usually see as Sompting! And yes we saw what seemed like acres of Worthing suburbs. I was once again struck by the total absence of even one solar hot-water panel. It is on this route that we found ourselves spread out with a very long train of cars behind us – we did of course eventually let them through, but it did feel a bit like a Brighton Critical Mass ride. After waiting for a bit so that Leon and Ann could photograph some adorable donkeys we sailed on into Worthing for a delicious meal at the Denton. Good food , very pleasant service and much chatter – at our end of the table it ended up on the pros and cons of AV.

donkeys at Sompting 005

Well sated, we then cycled along the Worthing’s very nice cycle lane to Shoreham, over the footbridge and then time to consider the next stage. Some wanted to get the train, some to ride back to Brighton by the “back way” and some to take the “fast route” along the coast road. So the group became three – all wending our way back to Brighton in different ways.


Thank you Roger for another good ride.