Author Topic: A bit of urban (or rural) exploration  (Read 1991 times)

Tim Hall

  • Victoria is my queen
A bit of urban (or rural) exploration
« on: July 09, 2018, 05:56:53 pm »
(Parts of this report appear on Cyclechat)

Saturday just gone saw me tootling my way to Three Bridges station to meet Adrian, sometime OTP, and TinyMyNewt, NOTP. Jurek was to have joined the throng but, perhaps wisely, bailed on account of the high temperatures forecast.

I'd been thinking about doing this ride for a while, so when I saw that the ROC post at Cuckfield was having an open day and that my diary was clear, I made some vague plans. So vague that our route from Three Bridges to Cuckfield hadn't been finalised.  Options were (a) B2036, the Balcombe Road. A hilly rat run. (b) Taking the A23 to Pease Pottage and then the lanes used by the veteran car run. (c) Comedy Off Roading on Mildly Inappropriate Bikes through Tilgate Forest on NCN 20/21 and then joining the (b) route. Adrian's bike had some fantastically wide rubber, I don't give much a of a toss where I ride so it was only TMN to convince. She was up for it, especially as there was more chance of shade so Tilgate Forest it was.

Adrian and TMN riding through the forest.

We struck West along Parish Lane, pausing at a pair of Chestnut trees which I'd spotted on a previous trip, and which bear plastic plaques commemorating Mick and Edie Ayliffe of Clarencourt Cycling Club.  A few years ago I did a bit of digging and emailed Clarencourt CC about them. The trees mark the start line of the old Catford 24 hour time trial and when Micky Ayliffe died in 1978 his his ashes were buried there and the trees planted on top in memoriam. According to his son, he loved long distance time trialing and was second and third in the Catford event in the 1950's. Later when Edie, his widow, died her ashes were scattered there too.

A not very clear picture of the plaque.

We pootled on through Handcross and down past Nymans Gardens, through Staplefield and into Cuckfield.  We reached the ROC post by taking a  path through the churchyard which ended in a tricky gate requiring a bit of bike lifting. At the end of this TMN went to pick her bike up again at stabbed her leg quite deeply with the chain ring. I broke out my first aid kit and applied a suitable patch.

TMN post puncture repair.

Arriving at our primary destination i was pleased to see there wasn't a queueueueue, just a couple of blokes sheltering from the sun under a gazebo and various artifacts scattered around the ROC post. One of the blokes (volunteers who have refurbished the post at their own expense) told us about the various bits and pieces, together with a potted history of the site.  Here's a link to some webby science about it. . TMN elected to stay groundside, showing off her injury to one of the volunteers, whilst Adrian and I went down the ladder with the other.   

Altitude and azimuth detector.  Basically four pinhole cameras with photosensitive(?) paper.

Adrian studying cloud formations. The white dial in the background as a blast-o-meter.

We emerged once more and had a spot of lunch in Cuckfield. The temperature was climbing and Adrian was keen to watch the footy, so we headed down some nicely shaded lanes towards Hickstead and the A23. Adrain and TMN headed off to Brighton from there while I chewed over my options. The original plan was to go to Shipley, which was almost on my way home, so I decided to stick with it. It was getting hotter, necessitating a stop in Partridge Green for ice cream and a fizzy drink. Foolishly I'd brought the wrong OS map with me, so was navigating using a mixture of OSMAnd, Google Maps and fading memory-branes. I managed to locate a bridleway I'd used before from Partridge Green all the way across to the A24 at Dial Post, which was mostly surfaced. From there it was a short jump to Shipley, where Hilaire Belloc once lived, although my destination was just outside the village.

During WWII a "stay behind" force was formed to cause havoc in the event of invasion. Scattered around the country were various hidden bunkers, or Zero Stations, and there's one at Shipley. Linky
It was basically a buried Nissen hut with secret entrances, although the hut as long since collapsed, leaving a Big Hole in the ground. The entrances are still visible though, as is the groove in a tree which concealed the radio antenna.

Oak tree with antenna groove.

Not-so-secret anymore entrance.

The far end of the entrance tunnel.

After that it was time to head home. I dropped in at The Girl's house for a drink, but she was out, so I carried on to a Thee Pubbe yclept The Bax Castle. it was deserted except for five members of staff and me, presumably due to no football being shown. Brilliant. I rehydrated with a pint of hop flavoured carbonated fermented drink and a glass of water while dripping quietly onto their sofa.  From there it was a few miles home.  85km for the day and really enjoyable.  I'll put a similar ride together in a few weeks, taking in a few historical points of interest. Photos are here and here.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)


  • Eating all the pies and drinking all the tea.
Re: A bit of urban (or rural) exploration
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 06:46:44 pm »
What a pleasant ride and exploration.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.