24 – Seaford to Telscombe

Distance: 16km

Steps: 29,684

thavondale-seaford

We stayed last night at the lovely Avondale Hotel in Seaford with four flags flying outside. Rane loved the archhitecture, which feels Edwardian and Jezebel had oodles of fun and giggles on the Stannah stair-lift(s). Our room was fitted with a 1970s, fully functional, 4-way push button intercom radio. Fantastic!

avondale room intercom

Seaford is not so much a seaside town, but a town by the sea. I’m sure the residents like it that way. There is a really lovely pebble beach which stretches for miles, a trim trail, a nice prom, no litter, neat benches, a tourist information kiosk (closed) and a plethora of mobility scooters.

320px-Seaford

There is however no pier or funfair, there are no fish & chip shops or pubs on the prom and there is no amusement arcade. In fact, it is very quiet at night. This morning I tried for a Mister Softee ’99’ and got queer looks, it being ‘before lunch’.

Tide Mills boasts the footprints of many buildings long gone. This was one of my favourites. Square concrete pillars in a perfect grid, which must once have supported a floor. From here we followed the Vanguard Way to the port of Newhaven. Molly and I took the Camper to France from here in 2012.

Visit Newhaven Fort. It’s a full family day out.

www.newhavenfort.org.uk/newhavenfort

186 steps at the eastern approach to Peacehaven

The furthest eastern termination of the Peacehaven sea defences/prom, where they adjoin the 30 metre chalk cliffs stretching to Newhaven Fort. Here the desolate foreshore is made up of strangely eroded columns of grey/green slimy chalk and deep rock pools.

Our goal today had been Brighton but it was not to be. The shadows got long enough at Telscombe Cliffs, so there we stopped.

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23 – Eastbourne to Seaford

Distance: 20km

Steps: 39,658

We like the Big Sleep Hotel with its trendily mixed up furniture and gargantuan bathroom. Bags of quirk and good value too. 

It is also just about the closest Eastbourne hotel to Beachy Head. We checked out at 09:00am and headed west, up past the double decker bus shelter. 

to the start of the path up to Beachy Head

It’s steep but nowhere near the ‘half of Scafell Pike’ I’d been quoting. At the top, some 530′ up, we were impressed by PC Harry’s story

and perturbed by the little crosses…

The ‘new’ lighthouse was constructed between 1899 and 1903 but not completed until 1988 when an automated electric light was installed by Trinity House. 

It being a Sunday we found ourselves accompanied by hundreds of chattering folk as we made our way past Belle Toute lighthouse. 

The Belle Toute lighthouse was mounted on rails because Canadian artillery, in the absence of a sphinx, use it for gunnery practice. 

We descended to Birling Gap for lunch. There is one less house here since last time we visited. Scary. After lunch we walked up to the Tiger Inn at East Dean to enquire about B&B but their prices are outrageous so we carried on to Seaford.

On the way we spied:

This obscure swivel 5-bar gate (25 pts)

Exceat (narrow) Bridge

and the meandering Cuckmere. 

Brighton tomorrow ?  😯



22 – Eastbourne

Distance: 8km

Steps: 16,212

Today has been a day of rest. We have been tourists. This morning we had a sauna and a steam💨💨💨💨

We are staying at the very groovy Big Sleep Hotel, with faux fur curtains and gigantic bathroom. 

With our rucksacks left secure in our room, we went out light-footed to explore the start of tomorrow’s route



Y’know, they have some well posh beach huts in Eastbourne. 



21 – Bexhill to Eastbourne

Distance 14 km.   

Steps 28,469

Very comfy bed at Paul & Karen’s, then after a cooked breakfast, we set out for Eastbourne. Paul drove us to Galley Hill, where we had finished last night and we had a look at the Easter Egg Car, capable of 60mph. Galley Hill was the site of the world’s first motor race. 

The De La Warr  pavilion is an architectural gem,



currently home to a whizzo exhibition of Ladybird books. 





We stopped for a cuppa at the Sovereign Light Cafe, 9 miles offshore and named after a song by Keane. 

Thanks Paul for carrying my heavy pack, here’s that green bungalow

and a Bedford CF for me



20 – Icklesham to Bexhill

Distance: 21km

Steps: 40,024

Awoken at 05:40 by the sheep in the field next door, so packed camp away and back on the trail by 06:30am. It was a pleasure to walk cross country so early in the morning and I counted more than 300 lambs but only a handful of people on the 5km route to the coast at Fairlight. 



I had assumed that there would be a cafe at Fairlight Cove but I found only posh sea-facing houses and bungalows when I reached the high cliff tops of Channel Drive.

So breakfast was a Mars bar on a bench with a fabulous sea view. I had stopped in the Fire Hills area of Hastings Country Park. 



Fire Hills is so named because the entire area is covered with bright yellow gorse. On a sunny day (viewed from the sea) it is said that the hills appear to be ablaze (optical illusion). The local authority is clearing great swathes of gorse for public safety. 

Hastings Country Park is an obstacle to be conquered. Its 7km length undulates fiercely with thousands of steep. uneven, wooden steps. These tortuous approaches are perhaps designed to deter the faint hearted from the naturist beach at the centre of the park. 



After more than 6km of diabolical ups and downs I came in sight of Hastings

along with a sign proclaiming ‘Path closed due to rockfalls’. I layed down and went to sleep. When I woke up I observed hundreds of dead bees in the grass around me(?). The recommended safe alternative route went via Barley Road, a 3km diversion. I followed the arrows and eventually arrived in Hastings for lunch



Hastings is as busy as a seaside town can be, bit chavvy but full of people.😷 Carried on through St Leonards where I came upon Rodin’s ‘The Strangler’.



The ‘St Leonards Strangler’.

On past the brightly painted beach huts where St Leonards becomes Bexhill and I met my companions Jacob Arnell and Nathan Arnell who accompanied me for the remainder of the day.😃



Huge thanks to Karen and Paul who put me up for the night and looked after me so well😎

19 – Rye to Icklesham

Distance: 9km

Steps: 20,371

Set out from Rye harbour with Jack this morning. Today was a day of inland walking and we crossed the flat pastures headed towards Winchelsea. A great opportunity for a chat and we had plenty to talk about. 

We raced up that steep hill leading to Winchelsea and Jack suggested climbing the arch to see what might be on top 



Winchelsea is the 12th century town which inspired North American town planners to develop their system of streets and avenues. Now replicated in Milton Keynes



We popped into The New Inn at Winchelsea to wet our whistles but our real  goal was the Queens Arms at Ilkesham. The Queens Arms is a long established free house which serves fabulous home cooked food in herculean portions.

Checked into the Orchard Hotel just before dusk

18 – Denge to Rye

Distance: 24km (walked 18km)

Steps: 37,656

The first flight today out of Lydd International Airport was at 05:22am and the flight path went directly over my basher. I think the pilot was keeping Air Traffic Control on their toes by flying below radar height. I went back to sleep and was woken more gracefully, just after 06:00am by a chorus of wetland birds (knock, p’charr, pee-eep), so different to the birds of British woodlands.

The view out the foot end of the accommodation was (as planned) very special. The picture above was taken just after 06:00 am, by 06:30 a mist had obscured the furthest structure.

Old Lighthouse DungenessPacked everything away and walked back to the main trail and onto the dismantled railway. I had planned to strike out west towards Lydd but the shingle was too difficult to walk on so I followed the old railway to Kerton Rd, then Dungeness Rd to Lydd. There’s a cafe in Lydd, the New Moon and Seven Stars, though it’s a well kept secret and I only found out about it by asking a local builder. Had an early lunch and moved on.

Today has been the toughest day so far. Lovely weather but 18km walking entirely on tarmac and the first time I glimpsed the sea was when I reached Camber at 4:30pm. But at last I have left Kent. I’m in East Sussex now.

The Cinque Port of Rye was once on the seashore but due to global warming the water has receded some 5km to Camber Sands. This leaves the fishermen of Rye with a daily commute down the Rother Estuary to go about their business. rye harbourThe Rother is well dredged so the fishing industry in Rye still thrives.

17 – Dymchurch to Denge

Distance: 11km

Steps: 20,192

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I spent some time looking for the wooden half pipe as I could hear the sound of boarders dropping in. I never found the ramp. I think the sound was coming from the MoD testing station. I wonder what they are up to?

Walked 6km south to Greatstone. It’s mostly shingly along here but there are some sandy beaches and the dunes of course. Despite what the map indicates, there is a perfectly good promenade walk from St Mary’s Bay to Littlestone. Got this confirmed by locals and strode on with confidence. Really nice to see Duncan for a pint in the Fisherman’s Rest, then he treated me to fish & chips from the Greatstone Fish Bar, which we ate on the beach.

greatstone fish bar

The Greatstone Fish Bar deserves a mention. They serve some of the best fish & chips I’ve ever had. And good service from cheerful staff, Top marks

I walked on south to the end of the houses, to an area labelled ‘Lade’ on the map but known locally as ‘Varne’. The pub here is abandoned but there’s a little shop.  From here I crossed the shingle and doubled back north on the dismantled railway to reach the sound mirrors via a spit of shingle. These magnificent structures are a relic of redundant technology from the 1930’s, superseded by the invention of radar. They were clumsy and inefficient but gave ten minutes extra notice of approaching enemy aircraft (which must be 100% better than only finding out when the bombs start to fall). Back in the 70’s we used to ride down to Greatstone on motorbikes and stay in the Buglass bungalow by the Fisherman’s Rest.We’d walk out over the shingle to the sound mirrors to chill. They were much easier to access then, as the lakes were yet to be dug. There was a two storey building attached to the rear of the 200′ structure back then, which allowed safe access to the rectangular window (and very unsafe access to walk along the narrow top edge of the mirror).

Chatted to a couple of men about fishing the lake (tench, perch and bream), then set up the basher. Lee came to visit with very welcome flasks of hot tea and coffee and kindly loaned me his buffalo mountain shirt. Good bit of kit, I have ordered one.