Ride by Tim and Anne

January's ride start is at Horsham Park cafe, which opens at 09:00 for a second breakfast. Taking in a few cultural interludes on the way we'll have lunch at West Chiltington, a bit more culture and afternoon tea at Southwater Country Park. There is a bit of offroad, in the shape of a bit of the Downs Link. Total distance a shade over 40 miles. Note there is no morning coffee stop. If coming by train, you'll find it a bit tricky, as engineering works mean there's a replacement bus between Three Bridges and Horsham.

*****Report by Tim


January’s ride saw us gather at Horsham with a slight disappointment, as the park café was closed, despite detailed research (Anne sticking her head through the door the previous week) into the opening times. So we transferred to the leisure centre for a pre-ride warming before setting off. The weather started sunny and bright, if a little cold as we crossed the golf course and on to our first Culture Stop – Field Place, the birth place of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Bysshe_Shelley]Percy Bysshe Shelley[/url], correctly identified from my clues by Chris Juden. Take two house points.

Retracing our tracks slightly, to avoid the horrendously muddy bridleway of the original route we were soon heading south, only to stop near Christ’s Hospital to help some mountain bikers who had come out without a functioning pump. Then on towards Barns Green, where a touch of ice saw the front, then back, of the bike go a bit sideways. Fortunately my l33t bike handling skilllz, or more likely extreme good fortune, saved the day and we remained upright. More ice a little later on unfortunately saw Caroline hit the deck, but no damage.

And then it was time for our second Culture Stop – Newbuildings Place, one time home of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilfrid_Scawen_Blunt]Wilfrid Scawen Blunt[/url], who with his wife Lady Anne Noel set up Crabbet Park Stud near Crawley at the start of the 20th Century, famous for its Arab horses. (The grandfather of a school friend worked at Crabbet Park as a groom). Anyway, time was pressing, so we carried on southwards, pausing outside the George and Dragon to see the “Albino’s Grave”. Much speculation was had as to the origins of the grave, although the real story is rather [url=http://www.grantham.karoo.net/paul/graves/albino.htm]disturbing.[/url]

And then we were at Shipley, home of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilaire_Belloc]Hillaire Belloc,[/url] so we had quick reading:

I shoot the Hippopotamus With bullets made of platinum, Because if I use leaden ones His hide is sure to flatten 'em

This was followed by a discussion as to why ice floats – density and bond angles seem to be the key. And I bet you thought erudite was a sort of glue. After all this mind expanding stuff it was time for lunch so we whi ed down to the Queen’s Head in West Chiltington, which was entirely splendid, with fine ales, lovely bar staff and great ham egg and chips.

Time was cracking on, and mindful of the closing time of the coffee stop, we picked the pace up a little, pausing at West Grinstead and the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. According to their [url=http://www.consolation.org.uk/history.html]website[/url] “The first Catholic Shrine in honour of Our Lady to be established in England since before the Reformation”. It’s also the burial place of Hillaire Belloc, but we didn’t have any more poetry readings. With one eye on the clock and the other on the road, we continued northwards, crossing the A272 and picking up the Downs Link. We made it into Southwater Country park with minutes to spare, drinking coffee from paper cups as the washing up had already been done. Liz and Ken drank theirs outside while they attended to a small deflationary incident, then it was lights on and on our way for the final few miles downhill to Horsham. Forty miles in good company. A great start to the year.

Proposed Route

Culture Stop 1 - Photo by Dave

Cyclist in need - Photo by Dave

Ice! - Photo by Dave

Culture Stop 2 - Photo by Dave

Culture Stop 3 - Photo by Dave

Culture Stop 4 - Photo by Dave

Most of the class were paying attention - to the informative lecture!

Murray & Angela - through the woods south of Ashurst

Right turn - onto the B2139

After lunch - and the shadows are lengthening

Dave & Christopher - made it through the awkward gate onto the Downs Link

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