The Brighton and Hove Way

Bank Holiday Monday (May 25th) I woke with an headache like a hangover, which was disappointing since I’d not had a drink in days. I showered anyway, shouldered my pack and headed out to walk the Brighton and Hove Way, which I’d heard about through the Brighton Explorer’s Club. The Way’s website describes “the 27 Km trail” which takes in many of the hills around Brighton. It was pioneered in April 2017, and seemed like the perfect way to get out of doors and to see more of the area.

As a quick summary – it’s a great trail, albeit 27 miles rather than kilometres as the website promises. The scenery is excellent, although for a circular around Brighton, a 7 mile stretch of seafront walking is unavoidable. The paths taken are occasionally a little obscure and, even with the aid of a GPS route, I got lost in a few places. So, I would enthusiastically endorse the trail, with the reservation that you follow it a little loosely in places.

As I walked towards the seafront, I passed Small Batch, where a couple of the staff were collecting the post. It felt good to see them again, even if a re-opening is some time away.

The first bit of the trail was mundane, walking from Hove down to Saltdean, which took me through till 8am. I was better prepared than on my previous walk, with suncream and adequate water. As I entered Saltdean, I took my first wrong turn, missing the left at the church. Last time I’d been here, it was to cast proxy votes in the Referendum.

I joined up with my route from the week before, when I had come up from Rottingdean, and took my morning coffee in a small fairy ring.

At Balsdean reservoir, I had my first real problem with the trail. The path divided into two, with one part a familiar route to Balsdean, and the other off to the North West. According to the trail, the route I wanted went between these.

It wasn’t obvious where to go, but I found a stile hidden over the brow of the hill, which had a footpath sign, suggesting I was on the right track.

Despite the footpath sign, the trail here was not obvious, running alongside a buried fence.

In the next field, the path disappeared completely, despite being marked on the map and at the stiles.

The lambs from this spring were rowdy as I walked down into Balsdean valley. I needed the GPS app again to find the exact trail, which ran parallel to one that my OS map named “Snake Pass” – although this was much less grand than the one in Derbyshire. Here I had more trouble finding the right path, the apparent route blocked by thorns.

I left the valley by another route I’d used recently with my friend Sophie. From here I was on a familiar path to Woodingdean, and from there took the scenic B2123 to Falmer Village

In Falmer, the Way follows the boundary path around the university. This is a lovely bit of woodland, and it was good to be there: across the valley, I could see Park Village, my first residence in Brighton. The waypoints here were either slightly off or too far apart, and the exact path was a little hard to find.

Stanmer Park was lovely, with more woodland paths. After this, and on the other side of the road, was another tricky bit to navigate, where I found myself at a dead end. The Brighton and Hove Way makes excellent use of access land and obscure paths, which can be a little hard to follow. However, it was good to find some routes I’d never walked before – even if some of them were dead ends:

A short skip from here to the Chattri, where I terrified a woman as I emerged from the bushes, having once again strayed off the route. At the Chattri, I was still convinced that the trail was 27km, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, and corrections from the Brighton Explorer’s Club Whatsapp Group. I found some shade here and had a nap.

The last stage crossed the A23, and passed through the Brighton and Hove Golf Club, along some lovely paths towards Portslade. I reached the outskirts of town at Foredown Tower, where I’d entered the Downs on a walk just before lockdown. There aren’t that many routes from Brighton onto the Downs.

From here it was a simple route back through Portslade, where the village was older and more interesting than I realised; then through a series of very busy parks between Portslade Village and the seafront. I decided against walking along the promenade as it was uncomfortably full, with closely-packed queues outside the off-licenses. The end of lockdown was apparent.

Conclusion – a good walk with a few obscure moments, but well worth doing.It would have been a little easier if I had a better idea of the distance, but that is my own fault. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip to Balsdean

How can I complain about a day’s walking with scenery like this?

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