This first route is a bit under 22 miles (35 km) and takes you in a long loop round the west of Burgess Hill. As such there is a bit of background noise from the main roads - but nothing too bad.
The first section - through Clayton, past Wolstonbury and Danny - is about as rich in history as you are going to get in 3 miles of country-side. It skirts the bottom of the South Downs without being too hilly with good views of the twin windmills Jack and Jill, past Clayton's Norman church, the gothic folly that is our railway tunnel and then touches the bottom of the National Trust's Wolstonbury Hill, and the Danny estate.
This section is most definitely not for cars - the combo of twists, hills, cyclists, horse-riders and joggers (not to mention sledgers in winter) make this a rural playground, not a race-course.
This rather unprepossessing church, St John the Baptist's, in Clayton has some of the finest existing murals from the 11th century, showing the terrors of judgement day. The murals are well preserved because they had been plastered over only coming back to light in 1893. It is well worth stopping to pop into the church (normally open) and standing in front of paintings possibly drawn by people who remembered the Norman conquest.
Make of Clayton tunnel what you will. Every time I see it I find myself wondering what type of nutter could possibly have built it! And yet it is such a gorgeous folly. Our cycle ride goes right past, and if you need a drink to recover the "Jack and Jill" next door does a really fine lemonade.
The path that leads round to the west side of Wolstonbury is perhaps even more worth exploring as it is a rare example of well managed chalk downland and it is covered in wild flowers and insects.
Section 2 skirts Hurstpierpoint up to Goddard's Green, past Hurstpierpoint college, up to Bolney.
I hope that the photo below does justice to the college's grandeur, wealth and arrogance. Despite being over 150 years old, the college is so clean and well maintained that it could have been built yesterday.
I have no idea what such a large (and frankly magnificent) building is doing in the middle of nowhere but here it is!
From a cyclist's point of view the key thing is that this is not an urban setting with loads of busy roads. In fact, it's very peaceful. Most of this ride is through the country side, so I thought I would include a few photos to show you more typical scenes!
Once used as a convenient source of protein for land-owners able to provide grain, doves are now a pretty ordinary part of rural idyll. Grey pigeon = vermin. White dove = sign of eternal peace.
Don't ask me. I don't get it.
I've included this photo to give you a sense of typical riding. We are in the weald of Sussex which is solid clay, so as a result old roads tend to sink and become fringed with woodland where the hedge has grown out.
This is also typical of our large rural pads. We have more than our fair share of fake half-timbered houses. The angles are too straight, the roof is too good. But at least this one is pretty.
I'm going to skip a huge section now - not because it wasn't nice, but I was too into the cycling to stop all the time and take photos. So my last batch of photos is from down through Twineham and out to Sayer's Common.
The countryside opens out a little round here affording decent views and perhaps a bit better farming.
This is a pretty typical scene - our farms are not good enough for market gardening and instead are used for pasture and grain. It's pretty intensive - not much in the way of wildflowers in amongst that lot. But the fields are reasonably small and often fringed with hedge-rows. And because the weald is full of clay we have a lot of ditches and streams - not to mention a few moats, real and mock.
I was cycling along thinking that Twineham was a place that had yet to meet the 21st century when I met this wonderful cow so I thought I would include her.
I think that they must be made locally as we see them from time to time. This one came complete with a yappy Labrador behind the gate, who acted like no-one had ever taken a photo of the cow before!
I did see cars in this section, but not many. Instead I saw cyclists, joggers, two little girls skating and two little boys camping, and this wonderful pair meandering across the road.
The weather was turning a little daunting by then so I headed home.
I hope you enjoyed the meander.