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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Walk 88 Newhaven to Brighton

Walk   88 Newhaven to Brighton (East Sussex)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 198
Distance: 10 miles or 15km.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: footpaths including cliff paths and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Several buses between the two towns and a rail link.

Follow the road on the west side of the River Ouse south out of Newhaven. The road and a path link to the cliff top, or, further down, nearer to the fort, there is another path which links to the cliff path.

Peacehaven is a fairly short walk along the cliff path. In 1916 the land was sold off as individual building plots and a competition held to name the new settlement. As a result it was called New Anzac on Sea although this was changed to Peacehaven after the Gallipoli campaign (WW1) resulted in heavy losses for Australian and New Zealand troops. The community grew after the First World War with a variety of dwellings including converted old railway carriages and army huts. It is now mainly bungalows laid out on the original planned grid of roads.

The Greenwich meridian runs through Peacehaven and a monument or obelisk on the cliff records this. A plaque shows the distances from here to various places in the Commonwealth.

The walk continues to Telscombe Cliffs then there is a short gap before arriving at Saltdean. Two buildings are of note here. The first, Saltdean Lido, built in 1938, is a fine example of the architecture of the time. It was in danger of being closed recently but has been saved. In the background and dominating the skyline is the ex Grand Ocean Hotel built at the same time as the Lido. This was used as a fire service centre during the Second World War and after this it was owned by Butlins. From 1999 until 2005 it became a hotel again and has now been converted to apartments.

About half a mile further along is Rottingdean. The black Rottingdean Windmill can be seen high up on a hill near the village. It was built in 1802 and has been restored with the help of a lottery grant. It is worth a break from the walk to have a look at Rottingdean village. For most of its history it has been a farming community but from the 18th century it attracted visitors who came here as an alternative to Brighton. Rudyard Kipling’s old house can be seen and the artist Sir William Nicholson’s residence has been converted into a museum and library. If you ever watched the bizarre and funny TV series The League of Gentleman you might be interested to know that The Old Customs House Shop was the inspiration for  – ‘a local shop for local people’.

Returning to the coastal path, which is close to the main road, the next landmark is Roedean School. This famous private school for girls was founded in 1885. During the Second World War the girls moved to Keswick when the Admiralty used the building for training naval cadets. Girls from 11 -18 years old attend the school. Up on the hill near to this point is the famous St Dunstan’s Training Centre for the Blind.

A little further along is the impressive Brighton Marina which is the largest in Europe with 1600 berths. It was built between 1971 and 1979 but has grown since with a number of facilities and attractions added over the years e.g. a supermarket, restaurants, cinemas, bowling alley. 

The walk along Brighton seafront features many impressive buildings. At one point you can look up the hill and see the grandstand of Brighton Racecourse. If you like horse racing it is worth a visit during the summer meetings.

Near to the promenade is the famous Volk’s Electric Railway which runs from the Palace Pier to the marina. Built in 1883, it was Britain’s first electric seafront railway. Magnus Volk, the son of a German clockmaker, was the designer and builder.  At one stage a tall contraption called Daddy Long Legs ran along a special track and gave excursions out into the shallow water of the sea. A storm and some financial problems in the early twentieth century meant that this project had to be abandoned after a few years. Further details can be found on the company’s website:

The next landmark is the Palace Pier where this walk ends. In its original form in 1823 it was a Chain Pier which was used for passenger ships arriving from Dieppe in France. Following storm damage it had to be completely rebuilt. This took ten years and other attractions such as amusement machines and palm readers were introduced from 1905. A theatre and bandstand were opened soon after this. It remains very popular with updated rides, games, food outlets etc.

Snaps show: view of Rottingdean; Brighton Marina; Saltdean with old Ocean Hotel in background; Saltdean lido; Volks railway; Palace Pier.


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