diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seaside postcard: Newhaven to Brighton
I do love a good walk along the south coast's clifftops. I've done Dover to South Foreland, Eastbourne to Dover and the magnificent Seaford to Eastbourne. So rather than catching the train home from Newhaven, I decided to walk to Brighton and catch the train home from there. Ten miles altogether, and clifftops virtually all the way.


www.flickr.com: my Newhaven → Brighton gallery
(there are 44 photos altogether) (the photos of the walk start here)
(did I mention what a gloriously sunny day it was) (lovely)


Newhaven (Harbour Heights): My westward walk kicked off from the car park at Newhaven Fort, where a path heads up into gorse-covered heathland. There was a fantastic view from the summit of Castle Hill - across to Seaford, out into the Channel and down to the pebbly beach below - and the perfect spot too for a coastguard tower. A temporary sign warned ramblers off a short strip of coast path for fear of landslip, although there were no such warnings for the next couple of miles. The footpath hugged the clifftop with no barriers whatsoever, just a sudden precipice a few grassy metres (or feet) to my left [photo]. At one point I became totally absorbed in a map, wandering forwards oblivious to the precipice alongside, before suddenly remembering where I was and snapping back to reality with a jolt. This was the best stretch of the entire ten mile walk, striding between elevated fields and the sea, with only the occasional pause to peer over the rim at the stupendous chalk cliffs below. [photo] [photo] [photo]

Peacehaven: And then, suddenly, civilisation [photo]. The fields gave way to a line of houses, almost entirely bungalows, with residents out tending their gardens in the first flush of spring. Peacehaven started out 100 years ago under the auspices of founder Charles Neville. He planned a garden city by the sea, based on a regular grid of roads and avenues, although the end result is more hundreds of acres of residential sprawl. One thing Charles got right was to keep all commercial activity away from the shoreline. A grassy promenade follows the clifftop, undulating past successive south-facing bungalows, and with only the occasional flinty track to carry residents' cars into the town proper [photo]. The promenade's a popular dog-walking spot, mostly small yappy dogs of the kind favoured by retired Daily Express readers. At the foot of Horsham Avenue is the point where the Greenwich Meridian passes out to sea, and the spot is marked by a Meridian Monument. Up top is a symbolic green globe, while a plaque on the northern face informs readers that the spherical distance to Greenwich is 58 statute miles. The monument was erected in 1936, and also commemorates the death of 'beloved sovereign' King George V [photo]. Apparently the memorial's twice had to be shifted slightly inland during its lifetime, thanks to coastal erosion, but if it shifts too much further it'll first block the road and then make a mess of the nearest bungalow's garden. [photo] [photo] [photo]

Telscombe Cliffs: My attempt to walk solely along the clifftops foundered immediately after the Badgers Watch pub. The local water company have carved a ramp down through the chalk to give access to a new pumping station, part of a coastal sewage system currently being bored out by tunnelling machines. A much smaller path leads down the cliff to Brighton's second nudist beach - this far more secluded than the one near the centre of town. Telscombe Beach has an alien landscape of strewn white boulders, not welcoming sand, and its naturist credentials are entirely unofficial. Defiant strippers have scrubbed out the word "not" to create a "Nudism allowed" sign at the beach's entrance, so maybe the imposition of an adjacent sewage pumping station is the local councillors' way of getting their own back. [photo]



Saltdean: At the heart of Saltdean, in a natural dip facing the coast road [photo], lies Oval Park. And at the front of Oval Park is one of the finest Art Deco buildings on the south coast - Saltdean Lido. I may be compromised by seeing it in bright sunny weather, but ooh it's gorgeous. A gently curving façade, creamy walls, elegant terrace and two sparkling blue pools. And empty. According to the current owner the lido makes a large annual loss because repair bills are too high and the outdoor bathing season is too short. So he has plans for flats, an indoor pool, an extended library, and all sorts of things which aren't a simple 1930s lido. Locals are up in arms, or at least they were until last week when the government conferred Grade 2* listed status on the structure. This may protect the building for the future, allowing families to come splash their summers away, yet still may not be enough to make the place viable. But for the time being, as lidos so often are, it's gorgeous. [photo] [photo] [photo] [photo]

Rottingdean: A little further along the coast and Saltdean rolls almost imperceptibly into Rottingdean. Less of a suburban estate, this is a proper historic village with bijou high street and big black windmill on the hill [photo]. A short distance inland is the village green, with village pond, and local village celebrity [photo]. Rudyard Kipling used to live in the house opposite St Margaret's Church, circa 1900, and upstairs at The Elms is where he wrote his famous Just So Stories. Alas sightseers would deliberately ride the horsedrawn bus from Brighton in an attempt to peer over the wall and catch a glimpse of the great man from the top deck, so he soon moved on to a quieter village elsewhere. Kipling's story is told in a free museum across the road at The Grange, which doubles as an art gallery and the local library [photo]. Meanwhile his former backyard is now open as a municipal garden, in March not yet at its best, but evidently a summer jewel.

Roedean: The cliffs go on and on and on and on, as does the grassy promenade alongside. If you get too tired, these fields have one of the best bus services you'll ever find on a clifftop, so hop aboard and skip the final trek into Brighton. But oh look, that's the famous girls' boarding school facing out across the Channel like a grand stately home. [photo]



Brighton: Brighton goes on a bit too. At its easternmost extreme is the Marina Village, an extreme hybrid of berthing platforms and luxury living [photo] [photo]. Thousands of well-off folk choose to live in high-rise apartments at the foot of the cliffs, protected behind a sturdy breakwater and conveniently close to their yachts and a giant Asda. Sooner them than me. From here I could have taken the pioneering Volks Electric Railway along the beach (except it wasn't running). Or I could have taken a stroll along Madeira Drive past the crazy golf and a gathering of souped-up boy racers (except I was determined to continue at clifftop level for as long as possible). So I continued for another mile and a half along Marine Parade [photo], the crowds slowly building to a tourist crescendo, until finally reaching the legendary Palace Pier [photo]. And I would have nipped to the fairground at the end, honest, if only my legs hadn't decided that walking four hours from Newhaven was quite far enough thankyou.

If you fancy a walk round the Brighton area, check here.
For the wider South Downs area, click here.
And to get down here from London for a good ramble, why not buy a special "All Network Downlander" rail ticket. This allows one day's unlimited off-peak travel on any of Southern's services (including via Crawley, Horsham, Redhill, East Croydon and London Victoria) plus unlimited bus travel within the South Downs area. You have to book online, at least two days in advance, but at £12.50 for adults (and £2.50 for children) I think that's an absolute bargain.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream