Brighton was our first marina stay on Idun away from the Hamble where we picked her up back in June 2018. We both have vivid memories of buying equipment in the chandlery, cycling along the chalk cliff path and enjoying Brighton town. Shortly after arriving here we also met Robin and Brigitte who came in and rafted up close to us. They had recently bought a ‘new to them’ boat and were circumnavigating Britain and were then planning to go to the Baltic, much like we had planned. We’re still in contact, despite never having managed to meet up in person again. And they are now in the Baltic!
Brighton Marina Village is a large out of town development with luxury blocks of flats, townhouses and a huge range of eateries and entertainment built around the artificial marina with both leisure and commercial vessels. It’s quite an easy walk into town, and the no 7 bus also takes you to the centre and the station within minutes.
We had decided to drive down here so that we could luxuriate in living on the boat and have the use of land transport for outings. We very nearly regretted it as the local EV charging at the nearby Asda which we were planning on using just wasn’t working out. But after trawling various charging apps, PodPoint, ZapMap, the local council’s website and Google, we found a slow-charger on a local road, within walking distance of the marina where we have charged overnight several times. All is forgiven!
Cliff path walking
We enjoyed leisurely walks around the harbour wall, along the coastal path, and up on top of the cliffs. You get a sensational view over the marina village from here. It is also sadly clearly a spot where people consider ending it all, as the Samaritans signs are firmly attached in several places along the fence by the very steep cliff edge. You can see the height of the cliff in the photo above. We were standing there, talking about how absolutely desperate you would have to be to climb through that wire fence, to take that final step.
Dredging – a forever job
The dredger is constantly at work in the artificial harbour, scooping up the mud and loading up Split Three who then transports it out to sea where it is dumped. To then be slowly brought back in at the next tide!
The Sights and Lights of Brighton
On Tuesday we set off along the path by the shingle beach to Brighton. Our first stop was the famous Brighton Palace Pier. It opened in May 1899, is 525m long and contains 85 miles of planking. And at night it is lit by 67,000 bulbs. There’s some amazing stats for you! We wandered up the length of the pier, avoiding the Arcade, but eyeing up the various food and drink outlets. Towards the end there is a a fully fledged funfair with all the traditional amusements like House of Horrors, Dodgems, Bumper cars, a Booster pendulum ride, water rapids and more – ‘rides that will make your stomach leap and head spin’ – we watched it all at a safe distance!
After the pier we crossed the main road and walked into The Lanes, the part of town famous for its narrow alleyways with an eclectic selection of lovely shops and unusual eateries. Quite fun to just wander, and wonder ‘Who buys this? Who’d want to eat that?’. We had lunch at Vurger – “100% Vegan Fast Food”. I had the Classic Burger, and Dominic the New York Melt and it was very tasty, and we really enjoyed the whole ethos of the place.
In the afternoon we had a visit on the boat by Bob, who may be able to help Dominic sort out one of his projects, the lift-out mechanism for the new outboard.
Wondrous Gardens at Arundel
On the Wednesday we went to Arundel Castle, sitting in massive grounds overlooking the River Arun. It was built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. It is now the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been so for over 850 years. The Duke of Norfolk is also the Earl Marshal of England, a title the family have held for over 500 years. The Earl Marshal organises major ceremonial State events such as the opening of Parliament.
We came here for the gardens; the Tropical and English Gardens, the quirky Stumpery and wonderful Kitchen Garden with restored warm glasshouses with tomatoes, grapes and lots of flowers. We started at the Water Gardens with its water fowl and its wilderness of flowers. As we walked up to the Castle the hedge of pink roses welcomed us with its gorgeous scent and enticed us in to the rose garden. We walked around in there, smelling and comparing the different roses.
I love stumperies and have built one in our garden at home. The Stumpery here at Arundel is on a slightly grander scale than mine (just a teensy bit!) and I was so pleased we could come here to see it. Amazing natural artistry!
A miscellany of structures and plants from the more formal gardens:
We also visited the Fitzalan Chapel, with its many sarcophagi and memorials. During the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians kept their horses here in the chapel…..
The Devil’s Dyke
We had our picnic in a field where we had the most wonderful view over the South Downs and across to the sea and the wind turbines off Brighton! Then we continued driving inland through the gorgeous landscape, via picturesque villages and finally reaching our high up landing place by the Devil’s Dyke, a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way.
Geologists describe Devil’s Dyke as the most famous dry valley in the English chalk. Its steep sides and sharp curve are regarded as an unusual and important Quaternary landform. We walked all the way down into the dyke, and we felt strangely enclosed, with both sides of the valley being so unusually close; different from anything we’ve experienced before.
The area by the Devil’s Dyke has seen a variety of use. The ancient trackway that is now the South Downs Way runs across Devil’s Dyke; it has been used by humans for more than 2,000 years. In Victorian times there was a pioneering adventure park here with a multitude of games and funfair rides. But this came to an end when in 1918, the Government requisitioned Devil’s Dyke and transformed it from an adventure park into a munitions research and testing ground.
Cissbury Ring: Views, Ponies, Flint mines and a magnificent Hillfort
We’d heard that Cissbury Ring was not to be missed and how true that is! We found the public carpark and walked up through fields and into woodland to emerge at the chalk landscape where Cissbury Ring is the crowning glory. And where wild flowers are still blooming despite it being September.
The National Trust takes care of this monument and have enlisted the help of 17 New Forest ponies to help return the landscape to its true form as chalk grassland – one of the rarest habitats in the UK. Apparently it is working very well!
Cissbury Ring was likely used as a vantage point for early hunters. In the Neolithic there was extensive flint mining on the southern slopes, and you can still see the depressions and mounds from the open mines workings. Radiocarbon dating shows that the Sussex mines were the earliest in England. It is a fascinating subject!
In the Bronze Age people in the area used the hill and surrounding area as a ritual burial ground, and two round barrows have been identified. The Iron Age saw the development of the still very visible univallate hillfort; a hilltop enclosure with a single rampart accompanied by a ditch and a low counterscarp bank. Originally it had two entrances only, one at the eastern corner and the other at the southern end.
There is evidence of activity here in the Roman era, and coins dating to AD1009 and AD1023 have been found. The Tudors used Cissbury as part of their early-warning system of beacons that ran the length of the south coast. And more recently, a large anti-tank ditch was excavated around the entire hill in 1940 and anti-aircraft guns were positioned across the highest part of the ridge in the hill fort.
We walked the well-trodden chalky footpath around the whole hillfort, and up the higher parts in the middle of the Ring. The views are astounding in all directions. The sea mist was still around today but we could see over Flindon Valley out to Worthing and the sea in one direction, and the South Downs undulating landscape in every other direction. A pub lunch in a small village rounded off our day’s excursion.
A Saturday Sail to Eastbourne
We’re sailing off to Eastbourne today. It’s not the most perfect day for it wind and tide wise, but it’s a good time for us to move. I’m sitting here with the early morning sun shining through the window, directly opposite to where it was setting last night, visible through a multitude of masts over the harbour wall. This isn’t the prettiest marina but it’s very convenient and we’ve had a really nice few days. We’ve done a fair bit of walking, racking up 10,000 – 13,500 steps a day and we’ve seen the most spectacular nature. I’ve just read an article about how UNESCO has added the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales to its list of World Heritage site. We live in a world of the most utmost beauty!
Click here for the UNESCO website: https://unesco.org.uk/the-slate-landscape-of-northwest-wales/
We set off at 11am and the winds were sufficiently northerly at first to sail straight up the coast at 5-6 knots in a most leisurely and pleasant fashion, quite near the chalk cliffs in sunshine. And Dominic was very pleased that we overtook a boat who set off half an hour before us.
We had lovely views over The Seven Sisters cliffs. But once we approached Beachy Head the wind got much stronger and came full against us, so we started tacking close in to the cliff to avoid the worst of the tide. At that moment, I said I’d go downstairs and make a quick coffee, and I had clearly made that decision at the wrong time as it took both of us to hold cups and kettle to make the coffee and then rush up to reef the mainsail. We tacked along the cliff and finally rounded the Head reaching Eastbourne bay. By now it was very choppy and the boat was bucking in the waves; I did not feel well. But it did not take too long to get to the eastern side of Eastbourne. After a bit of a rush to get fenders out and ropes ready (fishing boat sitting right behind us) we locked into Sovereign Harbour and got a very nice berth on the visitors pontoon next to a very friendly couple. After having our delayed lunch at 5pm (and much appreciated it was too!), we went up to the marina office to get our key fobs and sort the paperwork, and went for a wander around the marina to find where the toilets are, where the parking is and generally get our bearings. We even did a quick shop at the very large Asda store, a 15 minute walk away.
The Skipper in Action
Distance 26.9 NM, underway 4hrs 48 mins, average speed 5.6 knots, max speed 8.0 knots