I’ve been staying in Brighton both as a birthday holiday treat and to gather information and inspiration for my Tidelines project. Yesterday I revisited my old haunts along the coast from Brighton to Rottingdene, but today I visited the first of my “new” sites, Cuckmere Haven.
I chose Cuckmere Haven because I read an article about it in a newspaper where the author clearly felt it was a hidden gem. Perhaps they felt the same way about the place that I do about my special beaches and so that would give me an additional way to look at the place maybe. Of course there is the iconic backdrop of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head behind so it was ripe for a bit of investigation. I checked it out on line and on maps and it seemed like it could provide some magic.
So today we drove to have a look and to be honest I was not sure where we should park to most easily get to the beach on the west side of the Cuckmere river. None of the maps and sites showed access from the Seven Sisters Visitor Centre (it was only last night that I discovered that Ordnance Survey Get-a-Map doesn’t work on Android!) We had a little drama when we turned off the A27 to find the road was closed at Alfriston: but the diversion took us past the Long Man of Willmington so there was a little bonus for our trouble. So when we reached the car park at the visitor centre we decided to check our options. We saw we could walk down the road and take a path on the west side of the river and decided to park up there.
It was great to walk along serenaded by skylarks and with excited expectation, but distressing to see the amount of rubbish – clearly flotsam from high tides coming well up the estuary and salt flats. It was sickening to be reminded of the lack of care we have towards the environment. The path had not that long dried out and become packed down, smoother in places, by passing feet. A week earlier and I suspect we would have been in sticky mud. We saw plenty of Canada geese, oyster catchers, egrets, pochard (an informed guess at distance) and a species of wader that eludes me at the moment, but I was surprised how few birds there were really.
For my first impressions and my evolving thoughts about some of the ingredients that are becoming clear in what makes a beach special for me you will have to wait for another post as all the walking, taking in visual stimuli, good food and wine has exhausted me.