To Eastbourne and beyond. It’s not often that I leave London by train heading south but the life of an evangelist is never easy. Today we learn that Kent is truly a beautiful county, they even have trees and fields.
I’m travelling to Eastbourne where I’ll be dicing with the man with the scythe as I’m told that old people go there to die and since I’m no spring chicken my plan is to head South West as soon as the station ticket barriers wave me goodbye with a Star Trek woosh.
It’s raining in Eastbourne although it’s warm rain. The droplets that hit me are the size of a beach bucket and I’m thinking, how appropriate. So I’m wet but warm and cannot be bothered with my wet weather stuff which is well down in the rucksack having been conned by the forecast which was for blue skies and sunshine.
I’ll not go into great detail save to say the walk from Eastbourne to Beachy Head is pleasant enough but damp and slightly challenging as I go from sea level to 450 feet in about a mile. The challenging bit is not to do with exertion, it’s the humidity, rain and sweat combining to make things uncomfortable. I have, by this time, relented with regard to my wet weather gear and I’m certainly being kept dry from the outside but extremely wet with sweat on the inside. I’d been looking forward to the view at Beachy Head but there isn’t one! The low cloud is eerie as it blows from somewhere ‘down there’ i.e. off the Channel and eddies over the cliffs, it might not be pretty but it’s certainly fascinating.
The track is well defined and there’s no danger along the cliffs although I’d have preferred a view. It is nondescript in the strict sense that there’s nothing to describe and the next three miles maintains this level of riveting interest. I did read something as I tested a coffee before I began the incline that there’s a mystery associated with this part of the coastline. In 2017 over 200 people were treated in hospital for the affects of some kind of gas. Initially, chemical-works on the French side of the Channel were blamed but the Met Office advised that it would be highly unlikely due to prevailing winds at the time. Others thought it may have been the final throws of a ship that had been mined in the First World War and carrying a classified cargo!
As I approach the appropriately named ‘Cliff End’ ready to turn inland and into the Downs proper I meet a couple who’re intent on the whole walk but they’re struggling with the weather and are contemplating an extended stop at the Youth Hostel which is no more then a couple of miles away. I remind them that rain is usually a transient thing and that when the sun shines they’ll be bouncing along and not to get disheartened. We’re met by a ranger who’s on his way down. He greets us with a smile and informs us that there are rolling thunderstorms on the tops and adds that we should consider not going much past the Youth Hostel and to assess the situation there. I’m astonished at the coincidence and tell him about our recent conversation. I walk with the couple to the YH and as they enter I decide on a coffee with them until I see a bus with Brighton in bold LED on the front. So Brighton it is then…
It’s forty years since I’ve been to Brighton and I’m looking forward to it as I page through TripAdvisor and hotels.com for a reasonable placed to stay that lives in the same financial world as me.
I alight at the SeaLife Centre and take the opportunity of a dry walk along the Prom passing the current pier followed by the skeleton of the old one that burned down in 2003, yes you read that right, it’s fifteen years since the fires that saw it off. English Heritage had it as a Grade 1 listed building and there are still question marks over the two fires both of which were deemed to have been arson.
Brighton’s well worth a visit but I don’t think I could handle more than a couple of days although with a bit of energy and imagination there are some nice buildings to visit and some wonderful stories that sit behind the architecture.
One such is St Martin’s Church that looks like a huge council house from the outside but the inside is magnificent. The Reverend Wagner dedicated himself to the poor and established support systems including food and education. Definitely worth a visit and all credit to the man who was wealthy but generous in both time and money.
…and so to ‘Battle’
Enjoy the snaps. G..x
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