348. Seaford to Brighton

I decided today would be a single days trip down from Shropshire to East Sussex, to complete a 13 mile walk then return to Shropshire. A 440 mile round trip…..mad I know, but my daughter wanted to walk the Brighton bit!

The Saturday drive down to East Sussex was done in about 3.5 hours and we parked up at the seafront in Seaford. We set off  walking westwards towards Newhaven and soon came to the deserted ruins of Tide Mills. Not a great deal remains of this once thriving village centered around a flour mill, which used the tide to store seawater in a set of lagoons, the trapped seawater was then released at low tide to generate power to turn the mill. The Mill closed in 1883 and was used as bonded warehouses until it was pulled down in 1901. The surrounding village was condemned in 1936 and the remaining inhabitants forcibly removed in 1939.

We soon had to divert around the River Ouse which Newhaven sits on, this meant crossing over the railway line and walking alongside the small Port of Newhaven, before using the A259 bridge over the Ouse. We walked back down along the opposite side of the Ouse towards Newhaven marina, passing a number of fishing quays. At the marina  we popped into a local cafe to get a couple of Latte’s “to go”. The next section of the walk meant climbing up onto Castle Hill, where Newhaven Fort is situated. From Castle Hill the route ahead could be clearly seen across the rolling cliff-tops. In the distance we could easily see Brighton and in the far distance , the headland of Selsey Bill.

Heading west from Seaford towards Newhaven
Part of the Tide Mill and village near Seaford
One of the lagoons used to store the seawater for the Tide mill
Newhaven Town railway station
Crossing over the River Ouse
The Corte d’Albatre about to depart for Dieppe
Ferry leaving harbour bound for Dieppe from Castle Hill
Heading over grassy slopes towards Peacehaven


Don’t quite know how this got here!


We continued over grassy slopes to the outskirts of Peacehaven. At Peacehaven Heights we decided to descend the amazing steps cut into the sheer Chalk cliffs, down to an under-cliff sea wall. The walking was very easy, but I did have half an eye on the chances of any rocks becoming dislodged from above. I also kept an eye open for the Memorial denoting the point of the   Greenwich Prime Meridian where it leaves these shores. I managed to snap a photo of its globe from the sea wall below. The next couple of miles went extremely quick and we soon climbing an access road back up onto the cliff top.

Heading towards Peacehaven
The steps down to the sea wall below Peacehaven heights
Looking eastwards below Peacehaven Heights
The steps below Peacehaven Heights
Heading westwards along the sea wall

We continued onto Saltdean, where we asked  a couple of locals if the undercliff went all the way to Brighton, they said it did, so no more need for my map, which I put away. You don’t actually see a great deal when you walk along this sea wall below the Chalk cliffs, but it does lead to rapid progress. Above us out of sight we were now passing from Rottingdean into Brighton itself. We passed behind the huge Brighton Marina, with shops, quays and its own ASDA store!

The cliffs petered out and we emerged onto Madeira Drive. The crowds began to increase and we soon passed by the terminus of the Volks Electric Railway, running from  Brighton Pier out to Black Point along Madeira Drive. Magnus Volk built the 2′ narrow gauge railway in 1883 and remains  the oldest operational electric railway in the world. The crowds thickened and so did the pubs, shops, food outlets and amusements, including a 300m zip wire running along the beach; at £18 a pop I did not participate. The walk ended at the entrance to Brighton Pier, all that remained to do was to get one of #12 buses back to Seaford. A fascinating walk along an amazing coastline.

The top of the memorial to the last point of land that the Greenwich Prime Meridian passed through
Heading down into Saltdean
Back on the sea wall walking along the Undercliff towards Brighton
On Madeira Drive heading towards Brighton
Passengers waiting to board the Volks Electric Railway at Black Point
The Volks electric engine on the move at a steady 6mph!
Heading along Madeira Drive towards the Pier
Zip line in use on Brighton Beach
Brighton Pier

Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 6,452 miles


347. Eastbourne to Seaford

I awoke early the following morning to find that fog and mist had descended overnight leaving visibility down to a 100 metres or so. I drove down country lanes to Seaford. The seaside resort would be the place where I finished today’s walk, which would be much shorter than yesterdays. I parked on the sea front, which had many free car parking spaces, as long as you stay for 12 hours or less. I walked the short distance into the town and had 2 minutes to wait for a bus, the #12, which operates a service every 12 minutes between Brighton and Eastbourne.

Unfortunately, on arriving in Eastbourne the fog had not lifted and neither would it for the rest of the walk. I made my way back to the sea front at Eastbourne and emerged onto the wide King Edwards Parade, a wide boulevard that rose upwards towards the higher ground of the South Downs.The residential part of Eastbourne ended quite abruptly at Bede’s Preparatory School and it was then a case of slogging up a steep hill. This also marked the start of the  the South Downs Way, a National Trail.

The impressive Eastbourne Town Hall
Looking up King Edweards Parade
Heading up the South Downland

It would have been nice to look back from the higher ground towards Eastbourne, but half way up the hill I was already surrounded by thick fog. The slope eased and I made good progress towards Beachy Head. I heard the odd car on a road to my right but could not see the road or car. Eventually I arrived at Beachy Head, again  could not see anything because of the fog. I did not linger but set off down the gentle grassy slopes towards Shooters Bottom. The road joined from the right again and I made the simple ascent up to and around the Lighthouse at Belle Tout, now a private residence. The fog was still all around me when I reached Birling Gap and with few people around I headed up and across the folded Chalk hills that formed The Seven Sisters. I did actually count them and it seemed they actually numbered eight!

The view back towards Eastbourne
At Beachy Head
As close as I dared to go near Beachy Head
Cliff fall near Belle Tout
The Belle Tout Lighthouse
Heading down to Birling Gap
Heading over the Seven Sisters

I dropped down out of the mist to Cuckmere Haven; here I needed to walk inland to cross the bridge of the River Cuckmere situated about a mile upstream. At sea level the fog was not so thick, but it still shrouded the higher Downland around me. The inland detour was almost 3 miles and all for the want of a short bridge across the Cuckmere. I followed the Cuckmere on a well defined levee to Exceat Bridge. Although very busy with road traffic, there was an separately attached footbridge. I set off back down the levee on the opposite side of the river arriving back at Cuckmere Haven.

I followed a well worn path across Seaford Head and soon dropped down to Hope Gap, this site gives access to the sea and the “Classic” view back to the Seven Sisters, but not today unfortunately as the fog was still down. I continued across the cliffs over Seaford Head, picking up the golf course and then dropping down to Seaford itself. I ended up on the sea front which was a huge shingle bank that disappeared into the distance. After passing a Martello Tower I was back at the car.

A short days walk and one, unfortunately, that offered very limited views of some of the most iconic natural scenary in England. However, I may return to this area some time in the future.

Vipers Bugloss
Descending from the South Downland to Cuckmere Haven
Heading inland along the River Cuckmere on a levee
The A259 crossing the Cuckmere over the Exceat Bridge
Back at Cuckmere Haven with the South Downland in the background
At Hope Gap, unfortunately the Seven Sisters remained in the fog
A Chalk promontory stripped of overlying soil and turf above Seaford
Heading down into Seaford
A Martello Tower now the Seaford Museum
Heading along the sea front at Seaford.

Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 6,439 miles


346. Fairlight to Eastbourne

I did think at first about doing a single days trip, but a round trip of over 400 miles for one days walk would not have been a sensible decision! I therefore opted to do an overnight stay with the first walking day being on a Sunday. I managed to get a good rate at the Travelodge in Hailsham, the weather was forecast to be dry and I would have an easy drive down from Shropshire on a Sunday morning.

I searched on line for a place to park legally  for free and managed to find a place quite close to Eastbourne railway station. I caught the 07:59 train to Hastings. At Hastings I popped into a nearby Tesco Express store to stock up on provisions. I then caught the 09:12 #101 bus to Fairlight. I got off next to St. Andrews church and walked down a lane towards the car park at Hastings Country Park, where I made my way through a myriad of paths before emerging on the top of East Hill and looking down on the seafront at Hastings.

The sun was now well up and the temperature quite high as I dropped steeply down steps towards the sea-front, in a part of Hastings known as Old Town. The scene that greeted me as I emerged onto the sea front was something akin to what life was like pre-pandemic, with many walkers, strollers, bathers, eaters and drinkers enjoying the sunny weather and barely a surgical mask in sight! It was a similar sight that I would observe all along the coast onto Eastbourne.

Heading towards Hasting from Hastings Country Park
Heading down steep steps towards Hastings
Looking back at East Hill and its cliff railway from Old Town
Numerous limestone outcrops form a back drop to the sea front
A rather forlorn looking Hastings Pier
Warrior Square Gardens in St. Leonards

The crowds thinned slightly as I left St. Leonards, a suburb of Hastings, behind me, but picked up again as I entered Bexhill, another seaside resort. On Galley Hill, a slight rise and barely a hill, I could look down the coastline towards the high rise flats of of my ultimate destination of Eastbourne. Nonetheless Galley Hill was famous as the site for some of the first motor car racing, during the very early part of the 20th century.

The sea wall I had been walking on was eventually replaced by high shingle banks. Walking along the shingle was tough going, but there were traces of harder compacted shingle which made the going much easier. I passed the small coastal settlements of Normans Bay, Beachlands  and Pevensey Bay, where I had to rest a second time and take on water.

When I reached Pevensey Bay I could easily make out the large newly built marina properties around Soveriegn Harbour, which forms part of Eastbourne. This stretch of coast has a fine collection of Martello Towers as I passed five of them  over a 3 mile section. I walked through the marina and then across the top of the lock gates, which allow small boats and pleasure craft in and out of the marina at low tide. By the time I reached Langney Point I picked up the sea wall again with a large number of people walking into Eastbourne. As I continued along the sea front, the iconic Eastbourne Pier came into view. I could see and hear there was a live performance of someone singing   on the pier.

At the pier I headed into towards the town centre making my way along the high street passing a number of pubs doing a roaring trade, while some stall-holders from a Sunday market were just starting to pack up afetr a busy and very sunny day.

Tomorrows would be a shorter walk, but would involve some climbing, with a number of up-and-downs and this should be the last time time I encounter any high ground on my coastal walk.

Quite a good model of a Plaice at an eatery near St Leonards
On the sea wall heading out of St. Leonards
On the beach passing a limestone outcrop near Bexhill-on-Sea
Sea Kale (Crambe maritima) on the shingle foreshore
Looking back towards Hastings from Galley Hill, Bexhill
Looking west towards Eastbourne from Galley Hill, Bexhill
Impressive Dutch gables architecture at Bexhill
Walking past fishing boats on the shingle shore at Normans Bay
Looking beyond a converted Martello Tower towards Eastbourne near Pevensey Bay
The outer lagoon at low tide in Sovereign Harbour
Boats entering the marina through locks at low tide
Heading towards Eastbourne, the high ground in the distance is the South Downs with Beachy Head hanging on to low cloud
Eastbourne Pier
The entrance to Eastbourne Pier

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 6,426 miles