Posted by: natsevs | December 15, 2010

Lydd to Shoreham

I woke up early and packed my stuff up into my big rucksack before getting myself some breakfast. There was a lot of traffic on the way to Lydd so I didn’t get going as early as I would have liked but we got there eventually and mum and dad dropped me off and headed home. There was a cycle track beside the road along the 5 miles to Camber skirting around the edge of the rifle range. There were big lakes full of bird life on my other side but I eventually got back to the sea and walked the front on the other side of the road. The sea was full of kite-surfers zipping up and down in front of the beach with one occasionally getting some massive air before getting dunked back into the water. The sea wall took me to Camber where I moved onto the road for a bit, passing big holiday park which explained why the beach was surprisingly busy. I returned to the cycle path out of Camber taking by the road again to start but then crossing over onto a track that cut a big corner whilst continuing to take me inland. The path came out to the road just before the bridge over to Rye which I took and walked through the town. It was quite a nice place but I was soon through it and over a second river on the other side that I kept to the banks of to cross over once again and take the Saxon Shore Way through some fields. Camber Castle was sitting impressively to my left and a few people were heading over there but my route stuck to the river banks until reaching a farm and a track. The track took me to the road and that in turn went out to Winchelsea Beach where I got onto the sea wall again. The other side of Winchelsea I met up with a guy called Chris from Walkmag who had come up to do a quick interview and get some photos. We had a quick interview in the beach café then Chris got some photos and video as I walked on (video here http://www.walkmag.co.uk/features/the-longest-walk/) before leaving me the rest of the days walk.

The sea wall took me to Cliff End where I had to come in because surprisingly there was a cliff in the way. I was on road briefly but the path took me out to the cliff edge once I had climbed up a bit then I stayed on that to and through Fairlight Cove. Out from there the walking got quite hard by recent standards after weeks of relative flatness and I was going down and up some serious dips in the cliffs. Despite the chillier weather I was soaked in sweat and knackered before I finally got out to the top before Hastings. It was really nice up there and I could imagine it being covered in people during the summer but this evening there was just a smattering of groups. I reached the steps that wound down to Hastings itself with a good view of the town stretching out below. Once down I walked the front, passing the pier which had burnt down just this year and had starlings swarming above it putting on a good show. It took a while to get through Hastings then I had to come in onto roads as there was no real beach access from there and it was getting dark so I needed the light. A while further on and it was now properly dark when I took an unlit cycle path out to the front which was at least dimly lit. Walking along there 2 ninja joggers made me jump right out of my skin, well they weren’t actual ninjas but they came up behind me pretty dam quietly. I got over a little hill, past a skate park, then along the front through Bexhill to head inland to the station via a food shop then on to arrive at the pub hotel I had booked at well after 7pm. To top off the long day I had also lost another hat bringing the tally to 4.

 

I had a surprisingly comfy bed so slept quite well despite the drunks outside below my window who were workmen I then met at breakfast as they talked to each other about how smashed they had been. Breakfast itself wasn’t amazing but did the job then I packed up whilst watching breakfast TV. When I left I made my way back to the front to continue along the promenade with the town looking less appealing than it had done in the dark. I had to move to the road as there was construction work being carried out on the promenade and I passed a series of flats optimistically named after Caribbean Islands. The road took me inland slightly but I was able to get back out to a promenade for a short stint before it disappeared and I was stuck trying to find the easiest way along the pebble beach as there were a load of houses along the top keeping me down there. At Cooden Beach there was a way back onto the road running right between the railway and the beach until it goes in under the railway. I chose to stick to the beach instead as it didn’t look too hard going and that got me to Normans bay where I resumed the road walking.

The going was quite simple for a while, passing through Beachlands and Perensey to join cycle paths to Eastbourne. There was a big marina blocking off the front that I had to get around to take a road out to the beach and take to the promenade. I stuck to the front all the way along although I did come in to find a shop near the pier to grab a bit of lunch. The pier there is really old school and quite cool, I stopped a bit further on to eat my lunch on a bench on the sea front. When I started off again the cliff started rising up to my right until there were 3 different levels of promenade and I soon had to make my way up to the top level. I walked the road past a very posh school then got onto the Weald way along the cliff edge to Beachy Head where I had a serious climb to the top. The views were great though and the strong wind was actually quite refreshing as it wasn’t carrying any rain with it. Once up onto the top I joined the South Downs Way going along the edge with regular dips taking me up and down as I progressed. The white cliffs were stunning and there were plenty of people out enjoying the scenery including a group of foreign people who got me to take a photo for them. I enjoyed seeing the lighthouse right down on the rocks below and then passed Belle Tout lighthouse on top of the cliff. Soon I was coming down into Berling Gap with its cluster of buildings before resuming the cliff top walking with considerably less people for company on this side.

There were some pretty steep climbs before I got into the seven sisters country park and down to Cuckmere Haven. I had to head inland there because of a river and crossed a ford over pool to take a direct route to the bridge. Over the bridge was a path straight back out to the bay then up out of it and the whole place was really picturesque especially when as I got to the top, loads of gulls came up on the wind to hang in the air then glide by slowly with the cliffs and sunset behind them. This was unfortunately just after putting my camera away. I took in one last dip then the going was easy for the rest of the way as I walked towards Seaford. A guy walked alongside me and chatted for a bit before I went down into the town and made my way along the sea front to get to the camping and caravan site on the opposite side. The wind that I had enjoyed on the cliff tops was now a slight probably and it was getting stronger all the time so that when I got to the campsite I was dreading putting up the tent. The owner said I could put it right up against an empty caravan and that worked until the wind changed direction. I ended up packing away my sleeping stuff in the dark and rain to move the tent to somewhere where it might stand a chance of remaining until the morning and thankfully the spot I moved to turned out to be much better.

 

The wind didn’t give me much more bother bu the rain was on and off all night so I woke up quite regularly. It had stopped by the morning though and I set off into Blue skies, except for that big black cloud out to sea which seemed to be getting bigger and nearer. That cloud came in with speed and I was soon getting raine don heavily as I passed the remains of a hospital for disabled boys, built to allow them to take in the healing sea air apparently. I actually hid behind a wall for a bit then carried on as the rain subsided slightly to come up through the harbour to the bridge and into Newhaven. My breakfast had been biscuits and crisps so I bought myself a steak slice when I came to a shop then followed a cycle route up one what felt like a very long and steep hill. When I finally hit the top I took to a track leading to a road which went down the other side to Peacehaven with Brighton in view in the distance. I stayed by the road for a while before getting onto a cliff path in front of the houses then a way down to a promenade below cropped up so I took it. I looked ahead to check it went right along and it seemed to so I set off below the cliffs and quite liked it down there. As soon as I got round a bend though, the walkway stopped and I had to go down onto the beach hoping there would be a way up before the tide came in.

Somewhere along that stretch there was an indent in the cliffs and standing in that and looking up I was beneath a fence that ran from one side of the indent to the other keeping a concrete post suspended above the beach. I was grateful that it stayed there whilst I stood beneath it taking a picture. A walkway turned up but it was only about 100m long so I took the steps up from it to the top. Up there I got onto the roads for a bit until I reached the under cliff walkway to Brighton. That had a number of people on it so looked more promising and took me all the way to Brighton Marina, which is like Gun Wharf here in Portsmouth but with much, much more expensive looking boats moored up. Getting out of the marina was confusing and when some ladies asked me how to get to the town centre I had to tell them I had no idea despite having a map in my pocket. I did get out though by taking any way through buildings that I came to until I was on the sea front again and walking by the light railway line. It was sunny day and the front was getting busier the nearer I got to the centre with loads of people milling about. I didn’t fancy stopping for lunch along there so carried on walking, passing the new and old piers then stayed there through Hove as well.

I got to the lake at the end of Hove and continued through Portslade-by-sea in front of the harbour on a cycle way. The route took me by loads of industry including a power plant to a spot with a café and a few surfers out in the water where I came in and crossed over some locks to Southwick. More industry kept me company along the road to Shoreham where I finally got myself some lunch at half 3 in the afternoon. Once I had nipped to the shop I took myself over the pedestrian bridge to the spit that is Shoreham beach. I was stuck on roads to get to the fort at the end but then took to the beach on the other side back down before coming in to go back over the bridge to Shoreham proper. I was done for the day so made my way to the train station and asked for a ticket to Lewes to be corrected on the pronunciation. The train took me back to Brighton then I changed to get one out to Lewes where I met Katie and Giles, friends of my sister, who were putting me up for the night.

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