This weekend I had Hazel Rah staying. Having a visitor is great, as it means you can go to all your favourite places with them – and it’s even better when the visitor knows Brighton as can suggest the places they love. Hazel also wanted to do a Cheeky Walk, as did Laurence, my old boss at Crunch, so we decided to do the Walk on the Wild Side, a 1.5 mile walk around Central Brighton which takes about 4 hours because of the different activities.
This route focussed more on the Cheeky than the Walking. It starts with the Haunted Hotel at the end of the pier – it’s fair to say this has seen better days. The Helter Skelter was closed due to bad weather. The highlight of the pier was the Dolphin Derby. Laurence narrowly won.
The instructions suggested a visit to a Tarot Reader, but they were all closed due to the bad weather. I wasn’t too bothered: if fortune tellers were any good, they would have known we were coming and briefly opened. We also looked on the stormy beach to find witch stones, which were pretty easy to find.
One of the highlights was talking with the bored woman in the Rock Shop. She was surprised to see visitors, particularly ones who actually lived in Brighton. We talked about rock and sweets shaped like anatomically-correct genitalia. From there we went to the Mock Turtle. This has a reputation for being one of Brighton’s finest tea-shops but was pretty terrible. Laurence was given a used cup and the toilet’s towel was hung in a heap behind the door. Maybe they were having a bad day.
We hunted for Griff Rhys Jones in the Colonnade Bar (excellent gin selection, by the way), engaged in petty vandalism, were trailed by security guards in the museum and looked for gifts in Snooper’s Paradise. We met up with Kim and Nathan near CyberCandy and found a German-themed gift for Kim. The Basketmakers was packed so we rounded the day off with lunch in the Eagle. A bizarre walk, probably designed for better weather, but it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town.
Yesterday was another Cheeky Walk, this time the longest one in the book, the Albion Trail. This starts at Hove Station and passes all three of Brighton and Hove Albion’s local grounds (the third is 75 miles away in Kent). I was joined by Jamie, Jen, Debbie, Sarah and Rams the dog.
None of us had much interest in football but the walk took in a lot of wild spaces in the town that I didn’t know about. We went through Hove Park, Three Cornered Copse, Withdean Park, Ladies Mile Nature Reserve and Stanmer Park. The National Lilac Collection, inside Withdean Park, looked underwhelming but is meant to be spectacular in May/June. Connecting these open spaces were a few legs of relentless suburbia:
The full walk was 9 miles. By the time we reached the Swan Inn we were famished so stopped for a bite to eat. The Swan is a traditional pub but it seems to have taken on some gastropub traits. Note the ‘deconstructed’ Cheese and Onion Baked Potato that Sarah was served:
I’ve now done 6 of the cheeky walks this year and have 15 to go. On Sunday we’re doing the Walk on the Wild Side, a 1.5 mile walk whose diversions and distractions are estimated to take 3-4 hours.
After a couple of weeks in India it was back to walking in Sussex today, with another Cheeky Walk (5 down, 16 to go!). This was another one of the countryside walks where the scenery was more important than the theme. The route was a circle, starting in East Brighton park and passing the racecourse, Ovingdean and Roedean. The weather looked like it could be good but settled down to being grey and windy. Still the scenery was impressive and the wind blew the Sunday cobwebs away.
The directions in the book are generally excellent, although the walks don’t have any maps. Since you’re not always sure how far away the next landmark is, I sometimes find myself feeling a little lost when we’re on the right track. Having said that, we’ve only got lost a couple of times in all the walks we’ve done, and never badly.
I’d not been to Ovingdean before and was impressed at how pretty it was. We stopped in St Wulfran’s Church, which is a very attractive church. Magnus Volk is buried in the churchyard.
We ended the walk with fry-ups at Mac’s Cafe. Perfect.
All being well, the next walk will be the epic 9-mile Albion Trail on the 22nd. On the 29th we’re planning to do A Walk on the Wild Side, which includes a series of distractions and activities.
This Sunday’s Cheeky Walk was a shorter one, two miles starting at Brighton station then winding through the North Laine and Lanes to the seafront before finishing back at the Museum. A lot of the places visited were familiar but it’s amazing what else you notice when you’re stopping to take photos:
The morse code above the Albert’s side door, spelled out in spraycans, apparently reads ‘Wish You Were Here’
The Banksy on the building’s side is a reproduction, despite the perspex protection.
The North Laine has some amazing stencil and sticker art, as well as the Kensington Street Murals (which are currently under threat)
On the seafront, it was a warm Spring day, despite only being February. The guidfebook pointed out the public art, as well as leading us to the JAG gallery, which I’d never been inside before.
We finished the walk with a meal at La Choza and a tour of the museum. The shorter walk wasn’t as much fun as the longer ones, and we felt we could have managed a couple back-to-back. But it was good to get out and explore the town on what felt like the first day of Spring.
I did my 3rd Cheeky walk of the year on January 25th but failed to get the photos up until now. It was another dry day and we did the Life & Death walk. This started with the Lewes Road cemeteries before taking us over the top of the race-course and then dropping us off in Kemptown.
While the second half of the walk was a little underwhelming, it was great to spend some time exploring the extra-mural cemetery.
The last picture shows the grave of Edward Bransfield, the first man to see Antarctica. According to Wikipedia: “During 2000 the Royal Mail issued a commemorative stamp in Bransfield’s honour, but as no likeness of him could be found, the stamp depicted instead RSS Bransfield, an Antarctic surveying vessel named after him.”
I don’t seem to have taken all that many pictures of the second half of the walk:
The book did promise us “the best view in Brighton” though and this was indeed pretty spectacular.
I did another one of the Cheeky Walks today, ‘A Country Walk in the City’. This one was less quirky than the previous but made up for it with some epic views. It was also slightly harder to follow, with a few fences moving since the book was released. We started out in Wild Park and followed a loop that took in the Hollingbury Hill Fort. The Cheeky Guide included some outrageous lies, but we spotted them all rather than be taken in by them. We rounded off the walk with roasts at the George. We’re planning to do our next Cheeky Walk on Sunday 25th.
Cheeky Walks in Brighton and Hove came out in 2012. I did a couple of the walks just after it came out, but didn’t get around to any of the others. An old friend suggested we get together for a walk on New Years Day and we decided to do the book’s Brighton’s Back Passages tour, which takes the reader around a tour of Brighton twittens.
The walk started at the Morrison’s in St James’s Street and soon showed me two passages on George Street that I’d never noticed, despite walking past them dozens of times.
One of them had been decorated:
The walk had been carefully planned and I loved how some of the alleyways opened up from what looked like dead ends. Being back alleys, all the passages were grotty and rubbish-strewn. At one point Ramsey the dog had to be carried over broken glass.
The walk pointed out a few things I’d never noticed. The frame in the photo below used to hold a mirror to deflect sunlight into the workshop above.
It’s interesting following a guidebook that is a couple of years old, because of the risk that landmarks have altered. The back passages walk was mostly unaltered, apart from one previously-decorated house near Regency Square being repainted.
The mispelling of ‘lane’ in the sign below has proved controversial, with a number of attempts to change itback proving unsuccessful. Laine is an old Sussex word for field.
This door was painted when the barber’s opposite was used as a film set.
My friend, the Swedish writer Louise Halvardsson, has recently been working on her Swenglish project. This involves Louise spending a week with 30 different people, 15 in England and 15 in Sweden. As well as being a fascinating idea for an art project/alternative travel memoir, Lou is also hoping to decide whether to settle in England or Sweden at the end of it.
The project requires Lou to shadow her hosts for the full week, meaning that her free-time depends on what they want to do. This means that I’ve not seen much of Lou since I returned from my holidays, except on her weeks off. Since last week was a free week we met up and tried another of the Cheeky Walks, this one an expedition to climb Mount Caburn.
The weather wasn’t as good as my previous walk, but it was dry and the scenery was fantastic. Mount Caburn is an iron-age fort near Lewes and has some lovely views. Lou’s account of the walk is online in English and Swedish.
The directions on this walk weren’t quite as straightforward as the last one, and we managed to get lost around Glynde. Trying to get back to Mount Caburn we found ourselves on an obscure path that hit a dead end:
Signs of civilisation:
The notices about gorillas made us wonder if we were more lost than we thought: