Not many weekends left before the end of the year and those remaining are busy with pre-Christmas activity. To fit this in I thought an early start was called for, so by 07:00 I had set off in the dark for a small circle route. The sun the rising as I got to Worthing going along my daily route I take to work each day, but this time I when I got to the office I continued going.
I continued along the seafront following Cycle Route 2, out of Goring and towards Ferring, with the early morning sun behind me. There is a strange gap between the two villages, prime seafront land where anywhere else expensive large houses would turn the flat fields into prime places to live. This is a protected area, the road has been built but nothing else, which turns it into a bit of a strange stretch of straight road with the beach one side and fields the other.
The gap takes into Ferring, a hamlet with a mix of the X-Files and a Dr Who mystery. Route 2 takes you through the main streets which is a pity as it could continue along the seafront but recent bids to do this were turned down so instead you have to leave the seafront and go up to the main A259 dual-carriageway and then back down again. The X-Files/Dr Who mix comes from the normal look to the houses and the streets, all neat and tidy, quiet, but just a little bit too neat and tidy and quiet. There is something going on behind those net curtains. Indeed, all side streets and access to the beach have large PRIVATE and KEEP OUT signs, they well you how much you will be fined if you even think about it, NO PARKING, NO TURNING, SOD OFF. The lawns are perfect, pretty flowers on the edge, clean cars and perfect little houses. But there is something going on behind all that, hence all the signs to keep you out. Has the community been replaced by an alien race disguised as humans, or maybe it is a simple as weekend sex parties. Either way, it is eerie cycling through in much the same way as Middleton was when I was last this way.
I escaped, no zombified pensioners got me and I made it safely into Littlehampton. The sun was up by now, a nice wide cycle path along a deserted beach, if only there was a McDonalds in the town I could had stopped for an egg mcmuffin to keep me going. I passed a number of streamlined cyclists in Lycra meeting up for the start of their early morning ride. A polite ‘hello’ and I continued on my way. There was works taking place by the harbour (flood defences maybe?) which meant a small bit of walking until I got to the foot/cycle bridge of the river. I quite like Littlehampton, a bit of a place by the sea forgotten about. We looked at moving house here years ago but it had a bit of a run down feel to the whole town. It still does in a lot of places, but a lot of money has been spent which shows in many years to come it could be a very up and coming area.
Out of Littlehampton, the early morning sun disappeared for a while and the cold wind hit side on as I rode along the flat land towards Ford. At this point I left Route 2 which I had been following since leaving home and started my journey northwards towards Arundel. Ford as the Prison which had some early morning visitors waiting to be let in, but I was soon to come across a reminder of Ford airfield in the shape of an RAF Meteor fighter jet on top of a pole at the entrance of Ford industrial estate.
The airfield opened in 1918 for the RAF but only lasted a couple of years until it closed. It started up again between the wars and took part in experiments in air-to-air refuelling, but was damaged quite a lot when World War Two started. The RAF came back and a lot of activity for D-Day support and beyond took place. They left again in the late 50s but the airfield itself closed in the 80s. There is a softplay area, the Flying Fortress, sign posted off the main A27, the weekly carboot sale that takes place, something that looks like a sewage works, and of course Ford Open Prison.
I didn’t venture into Arundel but instead up the long uphill of the A284. This was the first hill of the day having rode mostly on flat ground near or even under sea level for all of the way. It was to be all uphill until I met the large roundabout were the A29 meets and I would turn off towards Storington for an initial quick downhill. The uphill was fine, selected my gear and took my time, just plodded on, it was not steep, just long. After all that work it was a bit of a pity that the downhill was just a bit too steep to go down it comfortably, especially being quite a busy road. Last time I did this route I went the other way and I remember only too well the uphill slog, at least this time it was only my brakes that had to do the work. Good views on the way down with the mist laying in the valleys of the Downs.
Past Amberly and finally into Storrington, a place well know for storks and rabbit breeding (in the old days), and just minutes away from the South Downs. I wasn’t intending to go up any Downs today and so after a quick snack break I carried on to the A24 to make my way back to Worthing.
There are not many routes through the Downs nearby which limits you a bit. The A24 a fast dual carriage way or the A283 a thin windy road that takes you to Steyning. I choose the dual carriage way, a slight long uphill getting you to the quiet streets of Findon before joining the A24 again (now a much slower road) with a slight downhill all the way into Worthing.
I made good time, getting home just as everyone else was getting up from a slow sleepy morning.
Number of miles: 39
Number of impressive sunrises: 1
Number of killer hills: 0
Number of jet planes on sticks: 1