Saturday, March 20, 1999

Walk 6 -- Newhaven Fort to Newhaven Town Station

Ages: Colin was 56 years and 316 days. Rosemary was 54 years and 93 days.
Weather: Very sunny but with a cool breeze, clouding over towards the end of the walk.
Location: From Newhaven Fort to Newhaven Town station.
Distance: 3 miles.
Total distance so far: 50 miles.
Terrain: Along tarmacked or concreted surfaces (since I was on crutches, this was essential!)
Tide: In, going out.
Rivers to cross: No. 3, the Ouse at Newhaven.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: ‘The Golden Galleon’ at Exceat Bridge (we had to drive to it because we didn’t pass one) where we drank Dark Velvet and Golden Peace (I didn’t like either!)
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: Colin drove us to the car park at Newhaven Fort.
At the end, he walked back to the car and picked me up before driving home.

I did this walk on crutches, only eight weeks after badly breaking my leg in a skiing accident! I fell over for no apparent reason, I wasn’t even going fast or on a difficult slope, but I had a spiral fracture of the left femur and a large ‘butterfly’ fragment splintered off. I had major surgery which involved putting a stainless steel nail inside my thigh-bone from my knee to my groin and securing it with three locking screws. With this in place I did not have to have a plaster cast, and ever since I have been going ‘hell-for-leather’ at the physiotherapy so that I can get back to walking again as quickly as possible.We parked in the official car park for Newhaven Fort where we had arrived in the dark on our last walk in January. Today we had a beautiful view over Newhaven Harbour in the sunshine. The ferry terminal looked rather sad because it closed at the end of January! Apparently it has been losing money for years, but a Hovercraft service is supposed to be starting in April though the starting date for this has already been put off once. I felt a little nostalgic because I embarked on my first ever trip abroad from Newhaven—a day trip to Dieppe when I was thirteen! I remember how excited I was about the whole venture despite the fact that we caught the night boat each way so we missed two nights sleep, it rained all day so we sheltered in churches and went to at least three funerals, and we travelled back with a pilgrimage from Lourdes who were all being seasick! I have never been able to listen to that dreary Lourdes hymn since without feeling queasy! ('Ave! Ave! Ave Maria!')
We walked down to the road, and I even managed to take a short cut down a grassy slope without losing my crutches. We went along the road under the fort to the car park, and tried to find somewhere sheltered from the wind so we could sit and have our sandwiches. The harbour wall was being repaired and there were stacks of interlocking concrete blocks there, but nothing to sit on. Then we found a rolled up carpet, so we pulled it into the shelter of one of the blocks and we had a very comfortable picnic! Colin had to pull me up at the end because I still find standing up from a low position difficult.
We walked all along the harbour wall and it was very peaceful with just a few fishermen and boys. The occasional small boat went in and out the harbour and we had good views of the chalk cliffs beyond Seaford. With the sun shining it was glorious, and made me feel so much more human and ordinary again after all I have been through in recent weeks. There was a steep slope at the end of the wall, much too steep for me to negotiate, so Colin went up there to the very end of the harbour while I waited for him.
We walked back along the harbour, poor Colin had to patiently saunter while I strutted along on my two sticks. We walked along the harbour edge, but when we got to the road Colin went ahead and collected the car. He parked it in a lay-by there and we had a cup of tea from the flask. Leaving the car in its new position we carried on. We thought the road was the nearest path to the inlet, we missed another road which actually led along the harbour wall because we thought it was a car park with a dead end—so for about 300 yards we were actually going wrong. We cut across by a footpath when we realised, and walked to the bridge along the harbour wall. This is where we crossed the River Ouse, and we walked to the station entrance on the other side. I was very pleased with myself having walked three miles with a broken leg, but I was utterly exhausted!

That ended Walk no.6, we shall pick up Walk no.7 next time at Newhaven Town Station—but I am afraid it will be some weeks because I still have a long way to go to get my leg properly fit. Colin went back to collect the car while I strutted back across the bridge and waited for him on a wooden seat, looking at a boat full of flowers. We drove to Exceat Bridge to find a pub.

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