A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘Brighton’

Not quite London to Brighton

Posted by Alan on June 14, 2011

This weekend I attempted my longest bike ride yet, the target a pint of Darkstar’s finest at the Evening Star. This was always going to be a challenge and sadly I gave in 15 miles short in Haywards Heath. But not without some adventure and some lovely Southern scenery. Heading out from home the first stop was Crystal Palace, 17 miles down the road from home.

Crystal Palace

It's that tele mast again

A short pause for a quick snack and drink before an excellent run down the other side of the hill.  At this point I wasn’t following a route map, just trying to point in vaguely the right direction. This was probably a mistake! Seeing signs for Bromley and Beckenham I turned westwards and ended up on the edge of Croydon near Selhurst. Not something I really wanted – Croydon is a very motorised place, fully of dual carriageways and car parks. This diversion easily added 2 miles compared with the route I could have taken by heading towards Beckenham. Oops. Eventually I fell out of the urban sprawl and onto country roads.

Frylands Wood, New Addington

Frylands Wood, New Addington

The next pit stop at around 27.5 miles was a pub called the ‘White Bear’. It looked pretty good – a reasonable selection of ale, busy but not uncomfortable and the food looked fine. Some of the reviews online are less positive and it was £2 for a blackcurrent and soda – daylight robbery! Still, an ample chance to sit and take on board more liquid before heading southwards again. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to work my new gps toy properly yet – so ‘mile 27’ apparently took 44 minutes to complete…

So here comes the ranty bit.  In my planning I’d looked up a couple of routes, using CycleStreets and Sustrans. I really don’t know why I bother with the latter – I’m more and more convinced each time I try a Sustrans route that it’s been designed for someone with a 4×4 and bike rack who likes a slow pedal at the weekend.

Muddy ditch

This is 'national cycle route 21'

NCN 21 is Sustrans London to Brighton route, or more specifically Greenwich to Brighton route. So perhaps you might expect that connecting two cities it is a well paved, waymarked route allowing comfortable progress of 10-15 miles per hour. I’m not exactly Chris Boardman after all. Sadly it isn’t. Just 100 metres after finding the route at the White Bear, it turned into a muddy ditch. Since destroying my pedals on the way to Southend (and possibly the other rides before that) my bike is currently out of action waiting new pedals and retirement in the north. This mean’s I have Ruth’s Trek road bike – it’s not designed for this and this slowed me right down to 5-8 mph.

Spot the sign

Spot the sign

The route is waymarked, but these are often small hidden dark coloured signs on dark trees. Admittedly not a great photo but if you can spot the sign good on you!

Sign in Context

Sign in Context

As soon as the next sign pointed onto another track, I gave up on NCN 21 and took to using maps and minor roads.  By Caterham (mile 32) I was getting ready for the next break – but instead I got held up, by a carnival! This 5 minute wait proved a useful little boost.

Caterham Carnival

Caterham Carnival

Just over 35 miles, the pit stop proper arrived – the Caterham viewpoint. It’s a great view with the M25 completely hidden from the top. You can still hear it though – in the distance, the South Downs and the next lot of challenges.

Caterham Viewpoint

Caterham Viewpoint

By this stage I had started to flag a bit – I’m not convinced I’ve got the diet right on a ride to provide the optimum level of energy. At mile 42 I found another pub to take on water, the Dog and Duck close to the village of Outwood. I was fast running out of afternoon and it started to become clear that I wouldn’t get to Brighton, at least, not if I wanted to get home at a sensible hour.  So I switched the target to beat 55 miles so that at least I’ve cycled further in a day than I’ve walked!

Viaduct

Ouse Valley Viaduct

The Ouse Valley Viaduct just outside Haywards Heath provided a last breathtaking scene, this time man made countryside as the road dips down just above the river before climbing into Haywards Heath itself. Arriving just after 6pm, it had taken me 8 hours to travel the 57.6 miles – with stops. According to the GPS thingy, a moving average of 10mph, with my actual moving time being just under 6 hours.

Onto a train by half 6 and back in London sometime around 1915 leaving time for one last photograph.

The Shard

Looking up - The Shard

It’s not long now until ‘the big one’ – the c2c ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth. Our maximum distance per day is around 45 miles. Now it’s just the hills to worry about!

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Sussex Pub Crawl

Posted by Alan on May 8, 2010

After the trip to Arundel Castle we went for a beer. Having an epic train ticket – we had plenty of choice of where to go, but decided to start in Arundel. After all that castle viewing we were kinda thirsty.

First up, the Kings Arms in Arundel:

The Kings Arms public house, Arundel

Kings Arms/Arundel

Recommended highly by the good beer guide we thought this place was OK. Beer c. £3/pint is pretty normal for the south, the glasses could have been a bit cleaner and the anti-mobile phone rant on the wall was a bit much. It did look like it had a good crowd of locals and there were still games around to play – darts in particular.

Inside the kings arms public house, Arundel

A proper solid boozer - Kings Arms/Arundel - featuring Emo and Simon

Next up, we took the train round to Chichester for a cab out to the Gribble in Oving.

The Gribble public house, Oving near Chichester

The Gribble

Listed in the good beer guide as a brewery, this was also recommended highly by Emo. Personally, I thought the beer was a bit ‘watery’ – pleasant but not really much too it.  The food was pretty awesome though and it was nice to try out something a bit different.

Alan P with a half of Gribble Mild

Yours truly with a dinky half pint of Gribble 'mild' (I am allowed halves - I live in the south!)

Back to Chichester where we had a choice. Train home or train to Brighton? We’d picked up a bottle for the journey whatever…but when the Brighton train rolled in first and we figured out we could get back and still make the last tube decision was made.

The final stop for the night was the evening star in Brighton. This was a cracking pub with really well kept beer and a great atmosphere. We only got to stick around for 1 hour – but I’ll definitely be calling in again whenever I get back to Brighton.

Simon & Emo finally start to object to the photographs in the Evening Star Brighton

Simon & Emo finally start to object to the photographs, Evening Star/Brighton

With that we took the last fast train back to London at 11pm – making the last tube home to boot. Awesome day out.

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