I’m off to Sussex again to continue on from where I left off from Brighton a couple of weeks ago.
As usual, before I left home, I went through my logistics routine of checking the weather, getting affordable accommodation, where to park and the public transport available to get to the start end of the walk. I managed to get a single nights accommodation in the sleepy village of Findon, some 9 miles from the coast nestling within the South Downs. I always make a list of possible bus/train times as I cannot guarantee what the traffic would be like on the drive down from Shropshire. I opted to finish the walk in the seaside resort of Littlehampton and finding a free space to park meant doing the last couple of miles of the walk at the start!
I parked on a residential road, in a small lay-by and made sure I was not stealing any local residents parking spot. I headed down to the coast which was about a 1km away and then proceeded westwards along the promenade until I arrived at the mouth of the River Arun. I would need to walk inland now to get to the first bridging point, in this case a footbridge. The footbridge was close to the railway station and it was there that I headed for. The bridge crossing wouyld have to wait until the tomorrow, as I now needed to catch a train to Brighton, albeit with a change of trains at Worthing. The cost of the single fare was an eye-watering £12.10, as my Senior Railcard was not valid until after 9:30.
I had made good time on the drive down and so managed to arrive in Brighton at just turned 08:00. Even at this time of the morning the sea front was quite busy with walkers, joggers , cyclists, people on their way to work and those setting up the many small cafes strewn along the promenade. The weather forecast was good with it being quite warm with a gentle breeze, although the visibility was poor with views limited to about half- a mile due to the extreme haze. Today’s walk would be almost all along the sea front, with only a couple of minor incursions inland.
As I set off along the promenade I wondered what the huge metal tube was pointing up at the sky. It was only when I got closer did I see a large glass pod, in fact a 360 degree viewing chamber, being worked on below me. This was the British Airways i360 viewing platform, 450 feet in height, with a bar onboard and offering , on a clear day (unlike today), amazing views. Normally, I would have jumped at the chance to go up in it, but today with the haze it would have been a waste of £16!
I made good progress westwards and soon passed through Hove and into neighbouring Portslade-by-Sea and Shoreham. I was now on a long sliver of land, bounded by the sea on one-side and Shoreham harbour and its collection of industrial factories on the other. This sliver of land was in fact a dead-end, however, I could get back onto the mainland via a path over the harbour lock gates and onto the busy A259.
I was on the main road for a couple of miles and soon found a Lidl store where I popped in to replenish my drinks stock and a pastry. Close by Lidl I noticed quite a large granite stone memorial to a Police Constable Jeffrey Tooley who “fell” near this spot in 1999. I later found out that the constable was doing a speed check with a colleague close to this spot when a career criminal who was speeding along the road and not intending to stop struck and killed the officer. The criminal later burnt the car, but was still caught and sentenced to 7 years.
I left the busy road and crossed over the Ardur onto the adjacent side of Shoreham Harbour and made my way back to the sea front. The next three miles was along a mixture of sea wall and compacted shingle bringing me into Worthing. I had visited the town twice before as my daughter did her “gap year” working in a bank in the town during the early noughties. With the pier in sight I decided I needed a break and a rest, eating my lunch in a bus shelter. As I headed along the sea front out of the town I passed a number of people who were pointing and taking photos of something behind me in the sky. I turned and saw that it was the Good Year airship or dirigible, although the term Blimp is still used. It made a couple of maneuvers above Worthing and then headed west along coast. The airship was remarkably quick and I later learned the newer airships have a top speed of 75mph as it disappeared into the haze.
The next six miles seemed to drag by as my legs started ache a bit, but I still had plenty of ‘puff’ to keep up a good place. I passed by Goring-on-sea and into Kingston, walking along compacted shingle, then onto sections of greensward and finally back onto loose shingle, which meant dropping down to the waters edge to find firm sand to walk on. There were still much ‘steeple chasing’ to do over the numerous groynes, but I soon emerged back onto the sea front at Rustington on the outskirts of Littlehampton where the walk ended.
Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 6,472 miles