Brighton Beach

The Coastal Hike from Brighton to Newhaven

I’ve always heard about the white chalk cliffs of England’s southern coast, so I decided to take a look at them when I was in Brighton. I hiked from my hostel in Hove to Newhaven, which was about twelve miles (probably closer to fifteen after factoring in all of the villages I stopped to explore along the way). The cliffs are so tall when you are walking along the bottom of them, and then it is incredible to get a different perspective by climbing to the top and seeing everything from so high in the air. It was so pretty to walk with the cliffs on one side of me and the ocean on my other side.

There were several moments when I could look all around me and be surrounded by nothing but nature—no villages in sight, no telephone wires or lampposts, and no other people. It felt strange to have that in such a wide, open space. Short of trekking to the middle of a forest, it’s hard to think of a way in which we aren’t somehow always affected by something man-made. 

Photos of Brighton Beach are coming next!

love, elizabeth

Brighton

"Brighton—brash and flamboyant, with a carnival flair—is refreshing if you’re suffering from an excess of doilies and museums. The city boasts a garish 19th-century Royal Pavilion, a loud and flashy carnival pier, England’s most thriving gay community, and a long stretch of cobbled beach. It’s no wonder that youthful bohemians and blue-collar Londoners alike make this town their holiday destination of choice.

"In the 1790s, with Napoleon’s armies running rampant on the Continent, aristocrats could no longer travel abroad on a traditional "Grand Tour" of Europe. King George IV chose the village of Brighthelmstone to build a vacation palace for himself, and royal followers began a frenzy of construction on the seashore. Soon this once-sleepy seaside village was transformed into an elegant resort town. With the rise of train travel, connections to London became quick and cheap, making Brighton an inviting getaway for working-class Londoners" (Rick Steves’ England: 2011).

Brighton wasn’t quite as “brash and flamboyant” when I visited, partially because I went during the week and it’s off-season (which means that my hostel was really cheap), and partially because I only experienced Brighton during the day—I still had schoolwork to do during the evenings. Since one third of Brighton’s population is gay, there are a ton of gay clubs and bars. I’m sure the city is very alive at night. However, I didn’t really notice anything during the day other than some buildings that had pride flags and a few “adult” shops mixed in with the other shops.

The shopping was nice in Brighton. There was a street of the more mainstream shops, and then there was a section of smaller pedestrian streets full of markets, independent and second-hand shops, and a lot of art studios. There were a lot of artists selling their work, which made Brighton feel a lot more bohemian than any of the markets or shopping areas of London.

The Royal Pavilion is one of the main tourist points of Brighton. The India-influenced building that can be seen today is by John Nash. It was built as a seaside residence of King George IV. Eventually, it was sold to the town of Brighton by the government because Queen Victoria didn’t like it (it was too small for her family, and it lacked privacy because so many Londoners could get to Brighton once the rail extended there in 1841).

I really, really enjoyed Brighton because I found it so relaxed. It was a great place to go after having a busy few days in London. I was able to get catch up on schoolwork, and I got to do it in a beautiful setting. I’ll definitely be going back!

Love, Elizabeth

Today I started my hike at 6:30 and walked along the chalk cliffs of the coast for about twelve miles, eventually reaching the town of Newhaven. I saw the most beautiful scenery. A lot of the walk was uphill so my legs are starting to get sore, but it was worth it!

I took the bus back to Brighton, and while I was walking back to my hostel, it started to rain—I finally got my first proper English rain! I got back to my room completely drenched, and warmed up with a nice hot shower. Now I’m curled up in bed with a book and chocolate. A great way to spend my last night of vacation!

I’m going back to Birmingham tomorrow evening, so I’ll put up more posts and pictures of my trip this weekend when I’m finally home.

Love, Elizabeth

I’m sitting in a McDonald’s right now (I know, exotic!) because my hostel didn’t have WiFi, and I needed a tea.

London is AMAZING! My flatmate Molly came with me yesterday, and she knew her way around, which definitely helped me orientate myself. She went back to Birmingham last night, and in her absence, I learned how to navigate the scary Tube system (aka the Underground—they’re not called subways here because that refers to pedestrian walkways); I only had to change trains 8 or 9 times before finally getting back to my hostel!

The Tube map looks simple enough, but then it’s hard to figure out how to apply that to where you need to go. However, once you’ve done it a few times, it’s easy enough. After taking so many stops on my Tube trip last night, I think I have the hang of it! I’m going to buy an unlimited day travel pass today and tomorrow so that I can get easily from place to place. On a map, London looks fairly compact, but it can become a trek, especially since I have my backpack with me (the hostel I stayed at last night doesn’t have bag storage, but I’m hoping the one where I’m staying the next two nights will). 

I’ve decided that on Tuesday, I’m going to Brighton. I just booked a hostel and train tickets there, and I’m staying there until Friday. Jane Austen fans will recognize Brighton as the place where the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, eloped to in Pride and Prejudice.

I’m off to have some London adventures. I’ll post next time I get a chance!

love, elizabeth