Sunday MTB – Ride Report 15th March 2015

Ten riders started out from The White Lion for our usual Sunday morning ride. This time we planned to ride to the Courtyard Café at Southease Youth Hostel. The ground was dry & firm and we had a following wind for much of the outward journey. All that winter riding in rain and over soft ground had paid off:  we arrived half an hour before the café opened. We did however use the new public workshop facilities outside the café to inflate a tyre with a slow puncture. It’s handy to know these facilities exist for emergency repairs.

Debbie shows off the cycle tools at Southease YHA

Debbie shows off the cycle tools at Southease YHA

Rather than wait in the cold for the café to open we carried on to the new café at The Big Park in Peacehaven for coffee and cake (and bacon sarnies) (and bacon & egg rolls).

The Bridleway from Telscombe Village to Bullock Down

The Bridleway from Telscombe Village to Bullock Down

Bikes at the Big Park Cafe

At the Big Park Café. Bikes on the outside, coffee and cake on the inside.

Our return route was via the popular Cycle Seahaven route for road and off-road riders: turning left off the busy A259 down Valley Road and past Meeching Valley School,  to pick of the cycle lane behind the Jolly Boatman and back to Seaford. At over 20 miles this was certainly one of our longer rides,  but the improving conditions are making lengthier outings much easier.

Big Park Opening – Ride Report

On Saturday  7th March Cycle Seahaven hosted a Cross Country 15 mile loop around Castle Hill Nature Reserve. There were 8 riders who started out from Peacehaven’s amazing new Big Park, and we headed North West on roads and bridleways to the Northern edge of Woodingdean. We then went East to pick up the South Downs Way, with its wonderful sunny views over Falmer and the villages in the Lower Ouse valley. The picture below was taken at Cold Coombes ridge on the South Downs Way. You can see the white arcs of the AMEX stadium under Neil’s arm.

At Cold Coombs ridge on the SDW

At Cold Coombs ridge on the South Downs Way

At South Farm we left the South Downs Way to head south to Telscombe Village via Cricketing Bottom, then back to The Big Park. We crossed the Meridian Line four times during the ride. Here’s a picture of me straddling the Eastern and Western hemispheres on the South Downs Way at Mill Hill.

Gus straddling the Eastern and Western Hemispheres

Gus straddling the Eastern and Western Hemispheres


The Big Park have written a report of the hugely successful opening day, which you can read here:

Sunday MTB – Ride Report 25th January 2015

Sunday’s cross country ride was joined by a total of 21 riders of varying ability and fitness, joining or leaving the ride at various intervals. Here’s our ride report of a day blessed with sunshine, cool breezes and great company.

We started by taking the train from Seaford or Eastbourne to meet up at Falmer railway station where we joined forces with our 16th rider. After some introductions and a quick chat about the ride we headed of through AMEX stadium’s perimeter road to join the long climb heading North towards Woodingdean on the new cycle lane. Before we reached the top we cut the corner to link up to the South Downs Way, then onto Kingston Ridge on the Northern border of Castle Hill nature reserve. Such a big climb was a rather tough start to the day, but the weather was dry and we had a slight following breeze.

After a rest we continued on the undulating South Downs Way (SDW) with epic views over the Weald, to be rewarded with the long fast descent of Iford Hill down the concrete farm road.


Gus at the top of Iford Hill

After going though a particularly muddy cow field we had a puncture – the only one on the ride. 10 minutes later we had repaired the tube (and had a welcome breather) so we all continued down to South Farm, crossing the C7 into Southease. After crossing the railway and the road-bridge over the A26 we ‘looked forward’ to climbing the steep and daunting Itford Hill towards Firle Beacon. We were already an hour and a half into the ride, so Itford Hill did not look welcoming. We had the option of taking the train home and we were on the doorstep to the YHA café – two alternative and attractive options – but everyone wanted a crack at the hill.  There was no rush and we still had a long way to go, so we got there when we got there. Some rode, some walked, and some did a bit of both.

Two hours into the ride and we were riding along the top towards Firle Beacon, past the carpark at the top of Firle Bostal, and onward to the carpark at the top of BoPeep Bostal (a bostal is a small road up a steep hill). 12.5 miles from the start we had reached Bopeep carpark where four riders (one only 14 years old – amazing!) left the group and went down the hill to Seaford. We had planned to meet four others at this point but we were late, so that group had arranged to head off with Debbie (our latest ride leader) to Alfriston for Coffee and to keep warm. The main group caught up with the other five riders (one rode out from Polegate to join us) and, after a headcount and a bit more banter, we headed off towards Windover Hill via Lullington Church – a 580′ climb in only two miles – another one of the tough climbs one expects on the SDW.


Riders spread out across the middle of Windover Hill

After the long and arduous climb (and plenty of rest, snacks and hydration) four riders split from the main group and continued on the South Downs Way to go home to Eastbourne, led by Ray. The remaining thirteen continued into the top of Friston Forest for a lovely fast descent of ‘Cardiac Hill’ and along to West Dean pond and the road over to Exceat Hill. We took the alternative cycle route at the back of the Golden Galleon (Cuckmere Inn) before saying our goodbyes to go our separate ways to various parts of Seaford & Newhaven.

The ground conditions were soggy, making it hard going, but we had a great time. Roll on the drier months where we can go further and faster.

Falmer to Windover to Seaford – 25 Miles
Falmer to Seaford – 17 Miles
Seaford to Windover to Seaford – 17 Miles

Sunday MTB – Ride Report 18th January 2015

Fourteen riders braved the cold, damp and early start to slog uphill for 6 miles from the White Lion to Firle Beacon – an amazing turnout for what looked like a miserable start to the day. The soft ground made it harder than normal, but the wind was light. The sun popped it’s head out occasionally and the thick mists were being dispersed by the strong breezes – the weather was doing its best to keep us cozy, but there were still cold feet and fingers to cope with. After plenty of stops (and a small route extension by some of the faster riders) we finally reached the top by the twin aerials near Firle Beacon,  with it’s amazing views over the river Ouse from Lewes to Newhaven. We could now look forward to the 3.5 mile undulating route along the South Downs Way with a steep and fun decent towards Southease. The chalky road on Itford Hill was quite grippy, having been washed clean by heavy rains (again), and the all-weather surface on the bridge over the A26 kept a firm hold of our tyres. After a total of nine and a half miles (in 2 hours) we rode into the Courtyard Café at Southease YHA to make fun of each other’s mud splattered backsides.

Sunday Ride 18th Jan 2015

We had an hour of warming up with teas, coffees, breakfast rolls and banter before we got back on our bikes for what was supposed to be an gentle ride home along the river banks. The first field was full of sheep who had torn up the soft grass & mud surface of the path, so we rode through sloppy mud for 0.7 miles. The next field was much better, then we popped out onto the C7 for 0.4 miles (there’s no access on the river banks on this part) before re-joining the off-road route through Piddinghoe (more very soft and muddy ground)  and onto the cycle network in Newhaven. We chose the seafront route for our final leg past Tide Mills and the Sailing Club (another good place to stop for refreshments) and back to the White Lion. The return route took an hour and 20 minutes to cover the 7.5 miles.

Ride Report – New Year’s Day 2015

Cycle Seahaven have a tradition of riding in the early morning of New Year’s Day –  madness. Eight riders from far away as Eastbourne and Crawley (and a few locals,  of course)  met up outside Bowden House School in Seaford for the start. We had two options, depending on the weather: a road-based route for wind and rain, or a cross-country (XC) route for good conditions. The weather was kind, so we elected to ride up to the exposed ridge on Bo-peep. The soft ground made it pretty tough going, so we turned right to New Pond and made a clockwise loop back to ‘the bench’ at 5-ways. A stiff 7 mile ride to get the blood pumping and set us up for the rest of the day.

Three riders took the lovely descent back to Firle Road. The five remaining riders decided that there were still some calories that needed burning off so they rode back up to Bo-peep and made an anti-clockwise loop via Black Cap and Poverty Bottom – a total of 15 miles.



Jane and David T. leading the pack towards Bo-peep


The peloton

Sunday MTB – Ride Report 6th Dec 2014

The day started with a slight drizzle as we struck out from the Martello Tower for a circuit of Seaford, but conditions soon cleared up for the rest of the day which remained dry but overcast. Ten of us went Eastwards along Chyngton Road/Way then North up Chyngton Lane to the Alfriston Road. We soon made it to Blatchington Golf Course where we stopped to discuss route options. The ride was intended for beginners but that morning we comprised entirely of more experienced riders,  so the decision was taken to ride to Southease for coffee. At the Courtyard café the fancy hot chocolate (whipped cream and marshmallows) went down a treat, as did the cakes and ham & cheese croissants. We returned on the Eastern banks of the river Ouse which we found a little bit tougher than the Western banks due to a few narrower sections and more stiles.

An 18 mile round trip with the usual giggles and jokes.

Catching a breather by Firle Beacon

Catching a breather by Firle Beacon

Sunday MTB – Ride Report 30th Nov 2014

Eleven riders set out from the White Lion at 8:15 on a bright and sunny Sunday morning to follow Firle Road all the way to Bopeep ,  where we met up with our twelfth rider. The going was slow due to the very soft conditions (as expected),  so we took plenty of breathers on the way. At BoPeep,  an hour into the ride,  one of our regular riders shared out some homemade orange and brandy flapjacks –  and very nice they were too. After sustenance (as per the nutrition blog) we struck out for Firle Beacon,  which was covered in thick fog. Visibility was very poor but the route was well worn and easy to follow. In dry conditions it’s best to know your way because it’s easy to get lost when the tracks are not so well defined.

Up till now the route had been mostly uphill,  so at the top of Firle Beacon we could look forward to some gentle rolling descents. The fog hid the bright sunshine so it was pretty chilly on this section but we all had warmer gear to put on.  The easier terrain meant we started go gain a bit more pace,  so we were soon at the top of Itford Hill. It’s a shame we couldn’t see the stunning views along the River Ouse from Newhaven to Lewes,  but there’s always next time. The descent of Itford Hill down to Southease is very steep,  so we took it easy on the wet grass and chalk. At the bottom of Itford Hill we crossed the A26 over the wooden bridge that took us to the Courtyard Café for teas and coffee (and maybe a little bit of cake). Two riders had continued onto to catch the train so,  after the second round of sustenance,  the remaining ten returned home via the river bank –  a much easier and flatter ride than the outward journey.

The top of the river banks was easy going (well, compared to the rest of the ride) so we made good time to Piddinghoe where we had to ride a short section on the road. We then cut back onto ‘The Hoe’ (a hidden park with a new children’s play area and tennis courts) and re-joined the river banks to continue to Newhaven. At the boatyards we rode up Elphick Road to link up with Newhaven’s growing cycle network,  where one of the riders departed for home which was nearby. We then rode onto the Ouse Estuary Trail and back to Seaford,  arriving at around noon.

The outward ten miles (mostly climbing) took around two hours. We stayed in the café around 45 minutes (partly my fault for forgetting the code to open the secure bike sheds outside the café) and the return 9 miles took about an hour and 20mins.


Sunday has been alternating between beginner and intermediate,  this ride being intermediate.

Sunday MTB – Ride Report 16th Nov 2014

Eight riders set off from the White Lion for a scenic ride along the South Downs Way. The first 5-miles was a steady climb up to the car park at Bo-peep, before turning right (East) towards Alfriston. The views from the top were stunning. We could see cliffs, the sea, forest and open fields from our vantage point, stretching out over Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, Newhaven, Firle, Arlington, Berwick and Alfriston. After a breather to admire the view we carried along the South Downs Way (SDW) and dropped into Alfriston down Kings Ride. This rugged and steep chalk road deserves respect, so we took it slowly and carefully. Safely at the bottom we crossed the road past The Star Inn and continued along the SDW to the bridge over the River Cuckmere. A short steep climb took us to the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lullington, a 16′ x 16′ church hidden away in lovely countryside – well worth a visit. After quick stop for a breather and group photo we walked to the end of the footpath to join up with the road at Chapel Hill to enjoy a fast coast down the road to Littlington. We rode along the Littlington Road (NCN2) all the way back to Exceat Hill, where we took the alternative MTB route back into Seaford using quiet roads and back ways. With only a brief half-hearted rain shower and light winds we had a cracking ride with great company.

The total time including stops was 3hours and we covered 15 miles.


Up on the Downs, overlooking Newhaven and Seaford

Up on the Downs, overlooking Newhaven and Seaford

Catching a breather at Lullington Church

Catching a breather at Lullington Church

The final climb up Exceat - NCN(2)

The final climb up Exceat – NCN(2)

BBQ Rides – 10th Aug 2013

A barbeque and two cycle rides were held on Saturday, 10th August, leaving from the Flying Fish at Denton as part of the day of fun and fund raising by Cycle Seahaven for the Ouse Valley Cycle Network ( – a planned network of walking and cycling routes between Newhaven and Lewes. The weather was ideal, bright with a gentle breeze.

One of the rides was for families, especially young children and those who wished to have a gentle easy ride to Seaford. This ride attracted 16 riders, some very young indeed, one on a child seat, and several on their own cycles aged 6 upwards. The family route took the group along the Ouse Valley cycle trail through the nature reserve, along the new section of cycleway under Bishopstone Bridge and then to the Martello tower in Seaford. The return journey was back the same way with the youngest forging ahead, showing great enthusiasm.

The other ride was attended by 10 riders, including two 13yr olds. This was a cross-country ride of 11 miles from the Flying Fish to Bishopstone, Grand Avenue in Seaford, Bo-Peep, along the South Downs Way to Firle Beacon, and back . The views were stunning – the weald on one side with Arlington reservoir and Firle Folly, and sea views on the other side with Seaford Head and Newhaven Marina on the other.

Prizes were raffled, donated by Mr. Cycles of Seaford and The Flying Fish of Denton , and all riders and non-riders enjoyed a fabulous BBQ while sitting in the Pub’s garden listening to live music.

The event was a great success raising a grand total of £230.00

– a relaxing and beautiful day.

Cyclists gather at the Flying Fish for the bike rides

Cyclists gather at the Flying Fish for the bike rides

Heading west from Seaford Golf Course towards bo-peep

Heading west from Seaford Golf Course towards bo-peep

Enjoying a BBQ and live music in the gardens of the Flyting Fish

Enjoying a BBQ and live music in the gardens of the Flyting Fish

All smiles on Seaford beach

All smiles on Seaford beach

Taking a rest on the South Downs Way at Firle Beacon

Taking a rest on the South Downs Way at Firle Beacon

Chef Denis prepares the food for when the hungry riders return

Chef Denis prepares the food for when the hungry riders return