Archive for the ‘Coasting2011’ Category

Hazy clearing to sunshine, light wind mild for time of year. 11.5 miles.

Great to be back on the trail walking down to the coast from Seaford station and soon drinking tea beside a martello tower, then set of to the east.



It wasn’t long before starting the first large chalk cliff which would have me puffing as i’m out of fitness and getting over a cold, winge over get on with it as the cruise down the other side should be a treat (and it was). on the way up a golf course is built on the back slope and a tee near the top sure produced some long drives from those i saw who knew how to hit a golf ball (some others appeared to swing as i would producing a curved ball that soon found some scrub to hide in).

The view from the top is something to see towards the severn sisters, i had the descent to the bottome where i entered the area of Cuckmere haven, a nature reserve. From the map i expected to walk some distance in land to get around the river but as the tide was out the river was low and a groyne provided the oportunity to imitate a tight rope walker across what stream there was.

Now this is one of those moments when i can wonder if stupid should be my middle name, half way across on the groyne i observed a pebble island which i could jump to with little water left to splash through, this worked but as i jumped the camera lept out of my pocket and landed on the pebbles at a similar time to my boots. Sadly pick up camera which has more scratches but seems to still work (relief), the camera is old with tiny pixel rate and memory size but it’s an old friend and though of no value would be a sad loss.

If anything some of the views get better and the severn sisters are a real roller coaster of cliffs untill i reach Birling gap where a pub was found that didn’t sell tea so i made do with coffe.  As progress is made along the cliffs some large cracks are very noticable showing how this area is errodding.

The climb and descend theme continues onto Beachy head where a large number of para gliders where enjoying near perfect conditions for their pastime from what i could see. From here on it’s a downward trend into Eastbourne which seemed a nice enough place with yet another day ending by a pier before walking inland to the station.


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14.1 miles, cloudy clearing to blue sky, hot.

The train ride to Brighton is quite a long one and today from Gatwick onwards the trains were crammed (guess they had seen the forecast), Brightons station is a really impressive structure but today it was a swarm of people and i was keen to get down to the shore, on the way is a very impressive old church which is unfortunately crammed between modern developments.

Turning east i was soon gamboling along the cycle way and shingle towards the marina. Here i thought i had made one of those back track needed mistakes as i wandered a big circle in the middle, but luck prevailed when an Asda worker told me how to go right through the middle and a path to the undercliffe walk would be found, he turned out to be correct,

As i walked through what must be a hugely expensive spot to live i thought i would like the value of one marina home, this would let me concentrate on hiking for a very long time indeed. From the far side of the marina limestone cliffs come into view and what a pleasant change from endless shingle they are. (i should point out the miles of shingle are due to the limestone cliffs stone (flint) content, the limestone dissolves in the sea water leaving the stones behind for shoreline).

Approaching Rottingdean i left the concrete underclif path and climbed up to cliff top level where an interesting windmill comes onto the sky line surrounded by a golf course. Further along the coast i was surprised to come upon another meridian line marker.

The sign didn’t say where they are bringing the cleaner seas from.

One thing that caught my eye along the way was a mass of Starlings apparently enjoying the sunny weather this image captures only a few of then spread across scrub bushes just back from the cliff edge.

 In places along the cliff path remnants of old guard fences with parts hanging down the cliff face show that coastal erosion is still happening in this area. As i approached Newhaven the sea wall and lighthouse at its entrance hove into view.

The approach to Newhaven includes some very rough cliff tops where landslips have left their mark, as have the remnants of war time gun emplacements. Overlooking the port i took a pack of rest in some shade, a kind chap nearby offered me one of his tinned beers and seemed amazed to be told i don’t partake of alcohol, theres me appearing ungrateful again, the port was fairly pleasant, even the piles of scrap metal on the keyside awaiting loading onto ships is part of today.

Its a small diversion up river to get over the first bridge and back down the other side is fine once a foot bridge over the railway is located, it’s then follow a stream to the shore and back along shingle to Seaford where i treated myself to a tin of pears and a bottle of water at the supermarket.

I had found two cups of tea during the day but at these temperatures my moisture lost was very high. Nice to see Seafords little station had hanging baskets of flowers.

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11.9 miles. overcast and hot.

Getting down to the shore line at Worthing  and looking east reveals yet more miles of shingle but just behind this is a walking/cycle route which is much kinder on the feet.

The views are nice enough and it was surprisingly quiet for the time of year, along here were quite a few small fishing boats dragged up on the shingle by winches and it would appear a few fishermen sell their fresh catch from the beach head. Some old boats have been turned into rather nice features, this one was apparently according to the plate was built by prisoners.

Moving into the area called Shoreham beach, it seemed looking ahead that there was no way across the small ports entry so i took the cycle route to the north and followed the main road side (this proved to be a good decision).

Moving along an old light house comes into view with a much larger power station chimney in the distance. I wouldn’t say the power station chimney is particularly unattractive amongst so much development, but my imagination thought that if it had been painted to look like a rocket that just may have been better in a novel way.

The footpath goes sharp right across the dock gates to get back on the shore line, to say this route doesn’t encourage people to follow it would be an understatement as it is abundant either side with no access signs. The walk is rather level and easy most of the way and the promenade gets wider the nearer we get to Brighton. Soon the view east includes the complete east pier and the skeletal remains of the west pier which illustrates how fashions come and go.

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Wavy line

The straight line distance from Parkstone to Worthing is 69.6 miles, my coast walk between these two points was 184.2 miles, so some stretches of the coast are more than a wavy line.

Whats also obvious from the above screen shots of my route on google earth is that i haven’t explored every possible nook and cranny that is the shore line. The shoreline is highly variable in some areas due to the position of the tide, i was a little surprised by find that at some very low tides it is possible to walk across the entrance to Pagham harbour, if nothing else this hiking sure is a learning process.

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23.0 miles, clear sky am gradually clouding over.

At 6am sitting on the side of Pagham harbour life really couldn’t have been much more perfect, i worked my way around the natural harbour which is much of salt marsh and amongst the myriad of species were heron, little egret, peewit and shell duck, i came upon a fox wandering amongst the marsh as the tide had been and gone in the night, unfortunately he saw me at the same time i spotted him so no chance of sneaking up for a photo.

The coast turns back into a shingle bank where i took a tiny diversion into Pagham town to find a sausage roll and bottle of orange (all that’s available at this hour), and of all the surprises a car pulled up and offered me a lift (had to turn it down again). Soon after i took the above photo looking back along it.

Approaching Bognor regis, the pier comes into view and when i got close the advertising showed i had arrived to early for the anual bird man competition which had been taking place for several years and would probably be a good day out.

At Middleton-on-sea the big feature is the number of breakwaters built form imported rocks to protect (retain) the remaining sand.

Reaching Littlehampton involves a turn inland along the rhe river bank to reach a retractable foot bridge which is apparently a two mile saving on the road route for cars. The town was rather busy with all the fun of the fair which sure attracted a lot of tourists, then it’s back onto the pebble beach and continue east until Worthing peir came into view, this on close inspection looks to be the biggest i have passed so far. 

I can’t say there has been much in the way of slopes over the last couple of days, but there has been a lot of miles of walking on shingle which has left my legs feeling they have been a long way.

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22.2 miles. sunshine.

What a fabulous day, leaving the station it was a very short stroll to the start of the Christchurch ship canal (abandoned, but under restoration). There were birds, butterflies and some rather neat little tug boats.

Walking along the canal path was a joy and lots of people were enjoying it, not a good day for everyone unfortunately as i came upon a fire engine pumping water out of the canal and onto a barn containing round bales which were ablaze.

Near the end of the canal is a yacht club and this jaguar was in the car park. Soon after i came upon a couple with the ladies father trying to find the locations of paintings he had done 55 years ago, oh how buildings and scenes change in that sort of time span, anyway we had a great chat and they shared water melon with me (a real treat on such a hot day).

Further along the coast the views over Christchurch harbour were just perfect and trail side i noticed a small heard of belted Galloway cattle which seem to be gaining popularity again.

 The trail continues along the shoreline and i happened upon a local hiker who gave some advice on my route ahead, at east head a bank of sand dunes protrude into the harbour and a very fine sand it is, soon after this now heading east the shore turns to shingle which is going to feature a lot i find out. It’s fairly straightforward all the way to Selsey and despite their being no footpath on the map for much of this coast it is in fact possible to hug the shore along it until i turned for a short spell inland to photograph the wind mill which turned out lucky in that it had a chip shop across the road from it. There is a tiny bit of inaccessible coast in Selsey and a lucky encounter with a local while staring at my map soon gained a point at street to take.

From the coast at Selsey looking west it is still possible to see the spinnaker tower at Portsmouth when the sky is this clear. After turning Selsey bill the Selsey life boat station soon hoves into view standing high out of the water it would appear as this is near low tide time.

It sure was beautiful as the sun was going down and i was making my way around the start of Pagham harbour, i passed a couple of nice looking camp spots but pressed on optimistically and ended up as dark was taking over pitching in a not so good spot.

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19.4 miles, sunny, some stratus cloud, sea breeze.

Being saturday meant i could take an earlier train to Havant which worked well and i was soon heading south towards the island, as so often seems to happen a surprise by the path side, today in the form of a lost light sabre, this immediately had me wondering if there had been an inter galactic struggle in the night for access to the island or something less important, must admit i saw no more evidence during the day to support this theory.

Traveling down the east side of the island follows much of an old railway bed, with offshoots on the coast edge, i soon found myself on one of these into a wildlife reserve area and there was an RSPB (royal society for the protection of birds) man with high magnification scopes set up on a close little island covered in a sea-bird colony. He was keen to explain what the area had to offer and so i saw plenty of black headed gulls, common terns, sandwich turns and the first Mediterranean gull i have definitely identified. There were young of all species at all stages from eggs to those practising flying. What a glorious start to a day that was starting to heat up in the for now clear blue sky.

This was obviously a spot i could have stayed at longer but the trail awaits, and unknown to me the next event wasn’t far away, this was catching up with concerned parents around young boy who had fallen of his bicycle, yes there was knee skin missing and they had no first aid kit, well i had a small bag of such equipment (rather basic) and soon had a square of gauze on the tender area held in place by sticky tape, hopefully it would at least stay on until the pain had eased. Now proceeding to the south-easterly point of the island it was a good view of where i was a few days ago as its a narrow strip of water that allows boats into the very sheltered langstone harbour and by now the stratus cloud had shut out the sun, plus the sea breeze was having a cooling effect which i appreciated.

Despite there being no path marked on the map it is perfectly possible to walk along the shore around Sinah common admiring the keep out signs surrounding the golf course. In fact the shore line is clear to walk all the way to the most south-easterly point of the island, mid way along this stretch is a miniature railway which includes come memorabilia from the original railway i followed earlier which was  probably disassembled in the 60s. Turning north to the life boat station was fine after that it got a bit more frustrating winding around small streets and then coming across my favorite (not) footpath clear on the map but an access denied sign at ground level. So it was mostly small roads north (which were very quiet) to North hayling where i sat in a lovely church yard for a drink and a smoke, while sat here i gradually noticed there was a whole lot of buzzing going on some where nearby. Looking round i realised that the high gable end of the church which was tile hung had a bee colony nesting in it, so if you are looking for honey bring a ladder. (my photo of the bees was rubbish so settled for the ancient porch, would be interesting to know how old that timber is).

The little roads continue north and along the short coast to cross back over the Langstone bridge towards the train home. a jolly good day.

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