I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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