Saturday, January 09, 1999

Walk 5 -- Brighton to Newhaven Fort

Ages: Colin was 56 years and 246 days. Rosemary was 54 years and 23 days.
Weather: High cloud with a cold wind coming from the north. It remained dry.
Location: From Brighton Palace Pier to Newhaven Fort.
Distance: 12½ miles.
Total distance so far: 47 miles.
Terrain: Some along the bottom of cliffs on tarmacked paths, some grassy paths along the top of chalk cliffs.
Tide: In, going out.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: No. 5 at Brighton, the Palace Pier.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: ‘The Black Horse’ at Rottingdean where we drank Harvey’s Old Ale.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: There was one between Brighton and Rottingdean, but we ignored it and climbed over the barriers!
How we got there and back: We caught a couple of trains to Brighton via Barnham and walked to the pier.
At the end, we walked from Newhaven Harbour to the town station and caught a couple of trains back via Littlehampton.

We started off in good spirits, leaving home almost before it got light so that we could have a good start on the day. We had a look first at the hotel on Brighton seafront which burnt down so spectacularly just two days after we walked past it on our last walk! Apparently the breakfast sausages caught fire on the Monday morning and the flames shot up the air vents from the kitchen in the basement to the roof in a matter of minutes. Everyone got out unhurt but there is very little left of the building.
We then explored the length of the Palace Pier. The funfair at the far end was just opening up, but they have no Ferris wheel so we were not interested! We carried on along the prom eastwards towards the marina, and the first cliffs of our tour started to rise up. We were protected from the wind walking along the bottom of them.
I shall never forget Brighton Marina, but not because of the magnificence of the place or anything like that. We started to walk along the western arm when Colin noticed that there was a lower path on the seaward side and suggested that we ought to be down there if we were to walk ‘the nearest safe path to the sea’. The trouble was, it wasn’t safe! After passing a group of children who were being absolutely gross, we suddenly noticed that the concrete was getting very slippery with green slime. I turned to tell Colin that the patch I was on was particularly slippery, and the next thing I knew I was several yards further on, face down with my right arm trapped under a wire fence which was all that was stopping me from falling into the sea! Colin and a fisherman rushed to my aid, but my arm was jammed and I knew it was injured so they couldn’t pull on it to get me out. In the end they managed to get me out by pulling me under my armpits where it didn’t hurt.
My arm was agony and I couldn’t move it, but I was convinced that it wasn’t broken, only badly bruised. I took some painkillers, and I found that if I put my right hand in my trouser pocket it acted as a kind of sling. It was fairly comfortable there, but absolutely useless for doing anything. I decided to carry on the walk to take my mind off the pain.
We walked along both arms of the marina (on the top, of course!) and couldn’t believe the awful white and yellow tin shacks where people actually live in the middle of it! Bet they pay thousands to do so as well—more fool them! Even the brick built flats along the shore edge had notices up asking us to ‘respect our privacy’ because the path goes right in front of their windows! Are we supposed to walk along with our eyes shut? From the marina, looking East, we could see Roedean—the famous girls’ Public School. It is an imposing building which seems to command the views from the top of the chalk cliffs.
Leaving the marina, we continued eastwards along the bottom of the cliff, and stopped to sit on a wall and eat our sandwiches. There were notices telling us that the path was blocked further on, but since people seemed to be walking and cycling freely both ways along it we carried on. It was blocked because they had renewed the concrete at just one point, so like everyone else we climbed over the barrier and edged our way past!
At Rottingdean we walked a short way up the main road to find our ‘real ale’ pub, the Black Horse. There we slaked our thirst on Harvey’s Old Ale. I really needed it because every movement of any part of my right arm was agony, so I consumed a few more painkillers as well. At least it took my mind off my arthritic toe which happily did not play up at all today—or was it that I just didn’t notice? We returned to the beach and continued eastwards.
There seemed to be a path all along the bottom of the cliff, but we weren’t sure if it would run out and leave us walking along shingle. Once we asked a woman with a dog who told us it did just that, so we went up and walked along the top of the cliff where it was more exposed to the wind. Further on there were more paths along the bottom, but we stayed on top. It seemed to be miles. It was!
At Peacehaven we passed over the Greenwich Meridian where there is a bit of a line going off the cliff and a kind of plinth which we thought was a memorial of some kind until we read what it really was. The inscription said:
We felt sorry for the people who live in the houses just there because I bet crowds will congregate there at the Millennium! And so we crossed over from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere.
Newhaven seemed a lot further than we had anticipated. We walked up to the old fort and at last we could see the harbour ahead. The view was glorious! The trouble was, it was getting quite dark and the way down was not very clear. We kept coming to dead ends behind bushes and having to go back on ourselves. It was also a little muddy so we had to be very careful not to slip. Every time I inadvertently jerked my arm I winced! Eventually we met a man coming up to walk his dog, and he pointed us in the right direction. It was quite dark by the time we got down to the road next to the harbour, and it was only five o’clock!

That ended Walk no. 5, we shall pick up Walk no.6 next time at the bottom of the hill fort by Newhaven Harbour. We returned home by train from Newhaven Town Station, and two days later my right arm was black from my shoulder to my elbow on the inside. I couldn’t lift it even to brush my hair. Yet I still went out and did some supply teaching because we needed the money to pay for our holidays!

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