Wen to Wen

London to Hastings ride

by Sam Walker   July 17, 2014  

What: Magical history tour

Where: London [Great Wen] to Hastings [Lesser Wen]. About 82 miles. Route below.

Unless I post otherwise, meeting place will be outside Somerset House on the northeast corner of Waterloo Bridge. Click here for CCTV footage, and note where X marks the spot.

- It's on your bucket list, after skydiving and ruffling Boris Johnson's hair.
- You've been quarreling about all the rides you do and want to give your partner more ammunition.
- A chance to see Hastings before it's closed and everybody leaves. Or it burns down.

When: August 30th, or the 31st as a raincheck date.

If on both days the weather is disagreeable, we move on to the next weekend, same drill.

Times to be announced, but probably 9am.

This is weather dependent because the views are best appreciated and the hills friendlier under a benevolent sun.

Pace: That depends.

First, note that this is not anything like the Dunwich Dynamo, Exmouth Exodus, Friday Night Ride to the Coast, or other illustrious events which you may be familiar with and which attract enough people so that crowd control becomes an issue.

It's just me and whoever turns up. Seriously. That's it. I've been advertising at some forums, and so far we've got a couple definites and a couple more maybes… not to mention a contingent scratching their chins and thinking "You don't want to be doing that. You want to be doing this…" [with credit to TMN]

It almost goes without saying, this is an unsupported ride. That doesn't mean if you run into problems you will be left by the side of the road to perish. (Probably.) It means that there is no sag wagon and no small army of helpers to soothe your fevered brow. There will only be medical personnel and mechanics if someone who took a course happens to come along.

We'll be traveling roughly as a group. I say roughly because if anybody wants to go on ahead at times that's fine, but I'm expecting we'll want to stay together, or at least within shouting distance. The pace will depend on the sum of our parts.

As to equipment, I would recommend that you bring a working bicycle (I'll be on a singlespeed, which works well enough), a spare tube if only for ballast, whatever tools comfort you and which you actually know how to use, and a mobile phone to curse at when there is no signal.

General advice for cyclists is to eat before you get hungry — preferably several days before — and drink often so that you can mark your territory as the ride progresses.

Bailing out. This is allowed! It is not a condition of the ride that you wear an ankle monitor. The Hastings railway line, usually cyclist friendly, runs lingeringly close for some portion of the journey.

I'm calling this the magical history tour because we will be passing the dinosaurs and other fantastical creatures of Crystal Palace Park

Down House


Penshurst Place
Ancestral home of the the Sidney family, whose Elizabethan forebear Sir Philip died of gangrene in battle and gallantly gave his water to another wounded soldier, saying "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine," think nothing of it, 'tis merely a scratch, cue the Black Knight

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, if he's home; some version of him has been around since time immemorial


The great pyramid of Brightling

The one-time Royal Greenwich Observatory
"How did an establishment, known as the Royal Greenwich Observatory, come to be situated in 380 acres of Sussex countryside just outside a village with a decidedly French-sounding name?"

Pevensey Bay, where William the Conquerer landed with his wrecking crew before marching into battle

and lots of pretty scenery where I'm sure historical things happened.
And hills. Did I mention those? There are hills.

The route isn't as bad as all that,

but it does have its challenges. The highest single climb is the road to Brightling. It's about the same as the infamous hill on the London to Brighton run, but you get twice the distance to do it in. There are also lots of smaller hills in between. Nothing to write home about, but cumulatively they will take their toll, so when we reach Hastings

you'll have earned whatever debauchery you may have planned. Mind you, it will be late in the day, so perhaps all you'll want to do is get on the handy train back to from where you came.

Here's that route again, more or less. Well, possibly less. I may trim a few miles after the recce.

Why Hastings?
Because I'm fond of the place. Click here to see some reasons why.

I'll be updating this post with more route information.



18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Note that I'm frequently editing the main post, at least in these early days, so if something requires more detail you might find it appears, later, after hitting refresh.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
18th July 2014 - 10:28


This post is to commemorate another ride, 45 years ago today, which put us on the moon. Q: What is the main difference between the surface of the moon and the roads of Far East Sussex (and doubtless stretches of macadam near you)? A: Both will have the same potholes millions of years from now.

It also gives me another opportunity to share my reaction to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy's anti-cyclist diatribe earlier in the month:

[click to enlarge]

Speaking of night rides, please take note of this.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
20th July 2014 - 7:10


What time of day does this leave?

posted by Tom Amos [246 posts]
20th July 2014 - 23:26


Tom Amos wrote:
What time of day does this leave?

8 or 9am, not yet decided, and may differ between the official ride & the recce, which is also open to comers. There'll be plenty of notice about the time. Less so perhaps for the date, which as mentioned above, depends on the weather.

Although I've made it clear I'm not interested in doing this if it's raining, it doesn't have to be all things bright and beautiful, either, as I don't want this to be the lobster ride.

At the risk of this turning into the Goldilocks ride instead (not too dreary, not too scorchio): I just want it to be dry. The ideal day would in fact be cloudy. But not too cloudy.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
21st July 2014 - 0:10


[Deleted one of my posts, which also deleted a reply. Sorry!]

Ah, a teacher free for the holidays. I should've gone to NUT to advertise. Watch this space for definite dates/times.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
21st July 2014 - 22:29


Today's Hasting's pic: South for the summer

Although this is the official page of all things Wen to Wen, the idea actually germinated over at LFGSS. I'm also posting at CycleChat. Just thought I'd throw those links in, as they may contain further useful info.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 15:56


Hi Sam,

All this sounds great! I'm defo up for it! Keeping fingers crossed for ideal weather! Have you considered to set up a FB event for this?



posted by KrisH [1 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:09


Doing a facebook page isn't a bad idea, except it would be another site I have to keep track of. My plate is full. As to the weather, I'm hoping it won't be necessary to start hopping from one weekend to the next. People make other plans with their lives: holidays, weddings, funerals, etc., which might clash with the Wen to Wen, and I imagine it would be awkward to have to say "Sorry we can't get married today, dear, but I'm off to Hastings."

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:56


Did part of the route today. After Brightling it may not be literally all downhill, but it sure feels that way. Click pics to enlarge.

"What are you doing?"
"Taking them for a walk."

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
25th July 2014 - 21:41


Today's Hastings pic: "The weather's fine up here, thanks for asking."

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
27th July 2014 - 8:02


There was a 'recce ride' planned, but I've cancelled it.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
29th July 2014 - 19:12


To kick off the grand month of August, here's Today's Hastings pic:

~ @jollygoodthen

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
1st August 2014 - 12:10


Loving the idea of the ride and the pics as well. I'm definitely maybe.

posted by gr3g0ree [69 posts]
18th August 2014 - 1:04


Definitely maybe is about as good as it gets.

I'll be posting more about the ride soon.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
18th August 2014 - 2:33


As you said before, it all depends on the weather, and I'm on holidays the week after, so if its not happening on the 30/31 I won't be able to come.
As soon as you come up with a definite date and time I will be able to confirm my attendance Wink

posted by gr3g0ree [69 posts]
18th August 2014 - 12:07


I was completely serious about definitely maybe being as good as it gets; it's a turn-up-and-ride kind of ride. That being said, there is a list of interested parties in the LFGSS thread.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
18th August 2014 - 13:47


Ride is going ahead tomorrow (the 30th), details here.

posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
29th August 2014 - 10:18


posted by Sam Walker [73 posts]
2nd September 2014 - 21:21