It’s the Year of the Coast which is as good a reason as any to get down to the Sussex coastline. Whilst some of our Sussex shores are quite urban (I’ll be sharing a very urban Sussex walk next week), there are plenty of untamed stretches and there is always plenty of interest. This week, I headed to Roedean School just east of Brighton Marina to test my boots on an 8 km Rottingdean walk that took in cliffs, a windmill, a lot of history and some great views.
There is a small car park just off the A259 in front of Roedean. And it’s free. Alternatively, there is parking a little further east in Greenways near the Blind Veterans Centre.
The Undercliff Walk
From the small Roedean car park, cross the main road towards the sea and head back towards the marina until you see the slip road that takes you down onto the Brighton Undercliff Walk.
This section really does what it says on the tin, as you are right under the cliffs and on the seafront. The Undercliff Walk is 5 km long and runs from the Marina to Saltdean. It’s also open to cyclists. For this Rottingdean route, you follow it for about 3.5 km until you reach Rottingdean and Rottingdean Beach. You’ll see the Storytelling Throne, some painted crabs and the Rottingdean Terraces (it’s a little outdoor theatre-style area used for summer performances). Turn left here and up Rottingdean High Street.
Rottingdean is worth a deviation and I had a good potter around before heading onwards. There are lots of helpful information boards which include a map and a number of points of interest plotted along the way. In particular, detour around Vicarage Lane and The Green and visit Kipling Gardens, The Grange and St Margaret’s church.
The windmill is ever-present in the background. It’s your next stop and you can get to it via Nevill Road or Hog Platt (both clearly marked on the information boards).
There are also lots of places to stop for a restorative coffee and a slice of cake before you head onward bound.
Rottingdean windmill on Beacon Hill above Rottingdean is a bit of a beauty. She dates back to 1802 and as you might expect, she carries with her, her own legends. She also recently featured on ITV’s drama series Grace. She was a working mill until 1881 but having fallen into a state of delipidation, Hilaire Belloc was one of those who supported her restoration in 1922. She’s been the subject of much further work since then and is now Grade II Listed. She is open to the public on various dates and is currently hosting a special exhibition, “Six under sail”. You can find out more here: Rottingdean Windmill.
Beacon Hill which climbs up gently behind the windmill is a nature reserve. You can enjoy amazing views to the east of the South Downs and Rottingdean and of the sea and Brighton to your west. From here, you walk north along the track to Ovingdean.
Ovingdean to Castle Hill
You don’t see much of Ovingdean on this walk, because as you approach the village you turn left down Beacon Hill (the road) but the village is pretty and dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. It’s a conservation area with an 11th century church and lots of history. At the bottom of Beacon Hill, you cross over Greenways and up to Castle Hill.
You can see the path clearly ahead and the climb is not as bad as it looks! Castle Hill is a nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Look out for the old sewer vent shaft that looks like a chimney. You’ll also see Roedean School ahead and then to your left as you skirt around it until views of Brighton and the Marina come back into view. Then you just follow the path back to the car.
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