54. Brighton to Hove to Southwick

Brighton's other Pier - Ruths walk around the coast, in SussexI park on a road in a housing estate in Southwick, catch a bus into the centre of Brighton and walk down to the sea front. Here I discover something. Brighton has two piers. The second one is a burnt ruin.

I wonder why so many of our piers seem to burn down?

Heading west, my destination today is Hove and then Southwick Station – only 5 miles away. This is my fifth day of walking and I am tired. I have been alone for most of the time and I am looking forward to going home this afternoon.

I am determined to like Brighton today.

Beach, Brighton. Ruth's coastal walk, through Sussex.The sun is shining. At this early hour, the promenade is less crowded and the beach is empty.

I can’t resist snapping a few photographs of the colourful deck chairs, waiting on the empty shingle beach.

Walking at a good pace, I leave Brighton behind and arrive in Hove. Actually, there is no clear distinction between the two resorts. The promenade at Hove widens out. There are beach huts on the concrete – which seems a little odd. There are also some wide open green spaces with beach huts on the grass, in an area called ‘Hove Lawns’.

People are beginning to appear and the day is warming up. There are joggers, cyclists, dogwalkers, people in mobility scooters and some serious walkers with back packs.

Hove, Ruth walks the coast, Sussex

I stop at a strange cafe / bar on the sea front – I think it doubles as a night club at night. But the food is very good.

Just beyond the cafe is a swimming area. Flags are flying and life guards sit within an enclosure of windbreaks.

The view ahead is spoiled somewhat by the dominating chimney of the Shoreham Power Station. My walk will take me along a spit of land, right up to the Power Station.

Hove Beach, with power station beyond, Ruth's coastal walk, Sussex.As I stop to take photos of the beach, I notice a film crew down on the shingle, with a video camera and a big recording microphone. They must be recording something for the local news.

I hear them ask a woman, ‘So, are you disappointed the beach has lost its blue flag status?’
A rather leading question, I think.
The woman replies, ‘Well, yes, I suppose I am.’

Later I read that heavy rain may be responsible for the drop in water quality along these beaches.

Shoreham Power Station, Portslade. Sussex. Ruth's coast walk.Beyond Hove, a spit of land continues, separated from the mainland by Shoreham Harbour. I walk along this spit, down a road that runs alongside an industrial estate. The road and surrounding land is all owned by Shoreham Port Authority.

This is the final section of an offical long distance footpath – the Monarch’s Way. But it is a really boring walk. The road is new and, although not very busy, large lorries pass along it. I can’t see the sea – there is a high bank blocking the view. On the landward side are high metal fences and security notices.

At one point, there is a break in the wall and I can see people on the shingle beach. I walk through and stand at the top of the beach. The sun lights up the chalky cliffs in the east. There is a wonderful view of the white cliffs, stretching back to the mouth of the Ouse and beyond to the Seven Sisters in the far distance.

View from nudist beach, across to Seven Sisters, Ruth's coastal walk, Brighton.In a short while, I will be heading inland to find my car. I may never see this wonderful view again. Pulling my camera out of my rucksack, I begin to take photographs of the sunlit cliffs.

Suddenly, a fat man shouts at me, ‘F*** off’. I look round. Is he shouting at me? Yes. He shouts again. More obscenities.

Then I realise. It is my camera he is objecting to. Why? Because this is a nudist beach. The fat man is probably naked – although it is hard to tell through the rolls of flesh.

At first I am very embarrassed. I would hate people to think I had come here to spy on nudists and take photographs of people. (Actually, I approve of the principle of nudist beaches.) So I shout an apology. Later I feel unsettled and angry by this encounter. It spoils the afternoon, as I can’t help brooding over it. The man was unnecessarily rude and unpleasant. There was no need to swear at me. Asking nicely would have done the trick.

Locks, Shoreham Harbour - Ruth's coastal walk.I hurry along the road, wanting to leave the area. At the end of the spit of land is a small car park. A footpath leads inland, over some locks, across Shoreham harbour and onto the mainland again. I am pleased to find my car.

The journey back home is marred by heavy traffic and it takes me 5 hours to travel the 160 miles.

Miles walked = 5
Piers seen = 2 (1 in ruins)
Nudist beaches = 1
Rude men encountered = 1

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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5 Responses to 54. Brighton to Hove to Southwick

  1. Fortunately we don’t meet many offensive people when we’re walking but on the odd occasion it happens it can be quite unsettling so we know excatly how you felt, and it is difficult to push the thought out of your mind for the remainder of the walk.

  2. Wingclipped says:

    We too almost fell into that trap – in fact we very nearly stumbled over a naked sunbather as we emerged onto the shingle beach through a hole in the fence. Half the problem with nudist beaches is that they are not very well advertised or signposted (for obvious reasons, I accept). But this means that if you happen to be passing through you don’t know it’s there until you are on it. I would be equally upset by the day-ruining encounter you had. It’s the unfairness of little injustices like that which is so upsetting.

  3. Karen White says:

    Yes, an unjust and upsetting encounter. People are all too often ready to jump in with anger before knowing the facts.

  4. Karen White says:

    Forgetting to mention things again – I think many of our pier fires are arson.

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