Saturday March 29th 2005
Worthing to Hove
West Sussex into East Sussex
Today was Easter Saturday but as there seemed to be no restrictions with the trains we set off from North Camp with high hopes. Every train we caught ran to time and all were new, clean and half empty. We left North Camp at 7.34, changed at Guildford and Havant and arrived at Worthing at 9.50. We took a taxi to the seafront and began the walk at 10 o’clock exactly.
Initially the prom continued as we had left it with seaside stalls and amenities. The gardens were bright with daffodils, the white stone façades of the hotels and restaurants had been cleaned up and the whole resort was beginning to come alive. The palm trees, which had been tied up like swaddled babies when we had passed through a few weeks earlier, were now unwrapped and although looking rather scraggy, showed promise for the summer.
The prom soon became a pavement beside the A259, which was busy with holiday traffic. The beach was immediately to our right but there was just the pavement between the sea and road so we had to follow it. It was not an unpleasant walk as there was plenty to see on the beach, boats pulled up on the shingle and children and dogs racing about and we are unashamedly nosy about the houses on the seafront and the people who live in them so trundled happily along.
We passed through East Worthing and soon arrived in Lancing where a wide grassy area opened up beside the road with a path alongside the sea. The beach was fenced off as it was undergoing some defence works but it was enough to be walking away from the road. Soon we came to a beach-front café and decided to stop for a break.
The weather was glorious and we sat out in the sunshine in just short sleeves. Our biggest problem of the day, in fact, was how to carry all the layers of clothing we had brought in case it turned cold. The only other person at the café was a large, cheerful man and we started talking. He told us how he had sold his building business in London and moved south twenty years earlier. He had a part share in a fishing boat and bred dogs and was obviously a man totally content with his life; a very rare condition. And when we told him we were planning to stop for lunch in Shoreham he kindly recommended a couple of good pubs.
After coffee, we walked on along a good path beside the sea, past a sailing club and a couple of caravan parks. The path climbed a little until we were walking along a sea wall behind some beautiful houses with very long gardens opening out onto the seafront. The houses and the path were on the same level but the gardens dipped down in between so they had fairly steep slopes down from the houses and up to the seawall. The path continued past Widewater Lagoon, a large lake which had houses on the landward side.
We passed under the Shoreham Airport flight path and several planes flew right over the top of us as they headed out to sea. Before long, we came to the beginning of Shoreham Beach.
The shingle beach area was populated in the late 19th century by wooden shacks and converted railway carriages which were used as summer homes. At that time it was called Bungalow Town and from the early years of the 20th century, film studios were built here and many films were made hereabouts including the original production of Little Dorritt. The area was cleared during the second world war for defence reasons and most of the old buildings are now gone, replaced by modern houses, apart from the church of the Good Shepherd, which was built in 1913.
We managed to thread our way through the houses to the footbridge and crossed quickly into Shoreham itself. We were hungry so immediately searched out one of the pubs recommended by the lovely man at Lancing. We plumped for the Crown and Anchor, mainly because we couldn’t find the other one and were not disappointed. It had a terrace beside the water and an extensive menu. I had steak and kidney pie with new potatoes and vegetables and Jen had cod and chips.
After a very satisfying lunch and a wash and brush up, we set off purposefully across the main road to the second hand bookshop. We browsed for a while and Jen bought a book and I bought four Ladybird books for my collection. There were several other books we liked and for about ten seconds we considered buying all of them and catching the train home from Shoreham! We resisted, however and continued the walk.
The geography of the Shoreham harbour area is quite complicated and took a little negotiating. There is an entrance from the sea with two arms reaching out left and right rather like a capital letter T. If a boat turns left it sails along the harbour, then north of Shoreham Beach under the footbridge and into the Rover Adur. If it turns right it reaches the main industrial part of Shoreham docks and eventually the marina. Having crossed the river Adur over the footbridge into Shoreham, we then had to make our way past the docks before crossing the arm of the harbour just ahead of the marina to reach the sea again.
And it was a fairly unpleasant walk as we had to follow the pavement beside the A259 again for about two miles. On the harbour side of us were various industrial sites, including a huge scrap yard, an exhaust fitting centre and Calor gas depot. On the other side of the road were a succession of large retail and wholesale warehouses; B&Q (very long car park queue), Travis Perkins (apparently deserted) and the Parcel Force Depot among many others.
At length we arrived opposite the entrance to the harbour where there was a strip of gravely wasteland with a lighthouse on one end. We stopped for a rest and a drink here then tackled the final leg of the A259 for the day.
Beside the Port Office was a little footpath which led us to the crossing here at the lock at the entrance to the marina.
Negotiating the lock gates was fun as we had to wait for some fantastic ocean going yachts to sail through. Eventually we were able to cross and found ourselves back on the seashore again. There was a café and promising path heading east and we set off happily.
Soon however the path became one of the most boring, dispiriting road walks we have done yet. The sea was on our right but on the left, still fringing the harbour side were industrial works. We passed a sewage works, a power station, an asphalt works, a timber importer, a concrete plant and several installations whose purpose was a complete and total mystery. The plants were all silent as it was Easter weekend and the road straight and monotonous. There were few cars on it as it went nowhere.
Eventually we climbed down and trudged along the shingle just for a change of scenery.
Finally, however, the road ended and after following a path through a few warehouses we climbed up a short flight of steps onto the promenade at Hove. A real esplanade with people and life! Seats and fancy railings! Wind-shelters and a clean beach! What a contrast in just a few yards. It was fantastic! We soon found a café and had some coffee before setting off east again. However, we hadn’t gone far when we flagged and decided that actually, we had probably had enough walking for the day. The train service from Hove to Gatwick works better than from Brighton, so although we were within sight of Brighton Pier we stopped at Hove. The final photo for the day was taken under a wonderful milepost near the leisure centre. We found our way up to Hove station and came home; arriving back at North Camp at 7pm after a good day’s walking though very varied scenery and environments.
4hrs 45 mins
Running Total 129.3 miles