Shingle Beaches and Hidden Treasures

When I went to school Sussex was one big county which stretched along the south coast from Kent to Hampshire.  It still does, but is now divided into two sections, east and west, with the resort of Brighton right on the dividing line.  So, let's start our tour in Brighton, and work our way east back towards Kent.

The famous landmark of the Pavillion stands in the centre of the town and is open to visitors all year round.  Here you will see the sumptuous interior of what was George IV's seaside palace.  During the year the exhibitions change and during the winter months an ice rink is available.

Aware of the proximity of the French resorts, just a short ferry crossing from nearby Newhaven, Brighton has become a very cosmopolitan resort, with cafes, music and places to relax all around the town.

Take a stroll along the promenade,where you will find a myriad of beach cafes and bars offering a variety of different food - including locally caught fish and seafood of course. Many of the bars have musicians playing various styles of music, so choose your place to relax to suit your mood.

Don't miss the fishing museum.  It is only small, costs nothing but tells the story of the local fishing industry through its exhibits.

A lot of restoration has taken place in Brighton and the pier is well worth a visit.  Boasting many original buildings and traditional rides, the pier is full of surprises.  Stop for coffee or something stronger at Victoria's Bar and just look up!

Nestling behind the beach and just behind the Pavilion are the narrow streets known as The Lanes.  Here you can wander amongst the shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.  Street entertainment abounds and is supplemented by a number of the cafes who have musicians to accompany your mid-day meal which can be taken al fresco, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere and a suntan, or wander amongst the shops bargain-hunting.  You are sure to find something to take your fancy amongst the many small specialists - clothes, jewellery, you name it, it is here.

The first ever electric railway runs along the seafront and will take you to the Marina.  This newly developed area is designed for shopping and relaxing.  Restaurants of all styles to suit all budgets overlook the marina where sailing boats bob up and down on the water. There is even a Chinese Restaurant housed in a 'junk' permanently moored against the harbour wall.
Brighton's history is somewhat chequered and its reputation has varied over the years.  The City Sightseeing Bus which has stops in the Marina and the town centre will provide an interesting commentary on the history of Brighton as a playground for the royals, the rich and the famous - or should that be infamous.

Walkers, with or without dogs, will love the area of downland that surrounds Brighton.  Catch an open-topped bus from the sea front, just by the pier, to the end of its journey up on the downs at Devil’s Dyke.  Here you will find paths to follow, and rolling countryside to enjoy a more challenging walk, old fortifications and a very welcome pub beside the bus stop whilst you wait for the bus to  return to town.  Look out for windmills and figures cut into the chalk hills.

Heading east the next town you reach is Eastbourne.  In complete contrast to the bustle of Brighton, Eastbourne is a quieter, more genteel resort, noted for its crescents along the seafront.  The energetic will enjoy the walk along the South Downs to Beachy Head.  The less athletic can reach this point by road!  Beachy Head boasts 530 feet high cliffs with views across the English Channel. 

The South Downs area is a National Park which includes a long distance footpath along the coast from Eastbourne.  The National Park extends up to Winchester and includes many small villages and open areas.  Events are held across the South Downs, particularly in the summer.

Hastings is probably the best known of the seaside towns of East Sussex.  First to spring to mind is the Battle of Hastings when in 1066 William the Conqueror defeated King Harold.  The battle actually took place outside Hastings at the town of Battle.  The history of Hastings as a seafaring town, including a heritage of smuggling.  The centre of the town offers plenty of places to shop and to eat.  Fish is very much on the menu in this town!!

The sand and pebble beach is not far from any point in the town.  There is special provision made for wheelchair users through the introduction of special matting and floating buggies which can be taken into the sea.  Contact the Tourist Information Office for more details if you would like to use this facility.

The chalky soil of the south downs is ideal for growing grape vines, and a number of vineyards in the area offer guided visits and tasting sessions.  English wine is becoming more popular, particularly the whites and roses developed in this area.

Wherever you decide to stay along the south coast, you are never far from a wealth of history, bustling towns and local market places.  Plan to visit towns and villages across the area to get a real flavour of the diversity of the South Coast.

Last updated on 07/07/2014 11:49am by Sharon Eason
<< Back to Article List