After a Long campaign - you can now Walk the path from Brighton to Newhaven along the clifftop UNINTERRUPTED by a trip to the busy road!
Pathway to success!
By Peter Seed
Now that the clocks have gone forward and we have lighter evenings it is time to emerge from hibernation and perhaps take a walk along the clifftop for some exercise. If venturing eastwards it is no longer necessary to make that sometimes unpleasant detour on to the A259 at Telscombe Cliffs. Here you could find yourself assaulted by the noise of traffic, enveloped in the exhaust fumes of heavy lorries that had ignored weight restrictions or risk being knocked over by a speeding cyclist approaching silently from behind. All of these hazards can now be put to one side as the now partly diverted footpath through the wastewater site re-opened towards the end of last year.
An official application to close the path temporarily through the works site to enable the construction of a new headworks on the foreshore was made in 1971 by the Brighton Sewers Board. In the event the project wasn’t completed until well into the 1980s.
It was in 2005 that representatives of the Ramblers Association and Friends of the South Downs (formerly the South Downs Society) met and concluded that the path had not been diverted nor extinguished but still legally existed on its historic line although the ground had been excavated from beneath part of the path. A surviving record of a site meeting held in the 1970s considered the provision of a bridge to span the missing section but concluded that such a structure would be dangerous for children!
In 2005 the campaign to secure the re-opening of the path was begun by the Ramblers Association and the South Downs Society. East Sussex County Council as the highway authority with responsibilities to keep the highway open and in good repair, including rights of way, stated they were unaware of the situation.
The campaign gained additional recognition locally with the support of Telscombe Residents Association which organised a cliff-top protest in 2012. This in turn brought the matter into sharper focus with Telscombe Town councillors giving support. Saltdean Residents Association, Peacehaven and District Residents Association and other local and national amenity organisations also joined in along the way.
Over the years East Sussex County Council worked to find a solution to the problem. A number of diversions of the path were proposed most of which were unacceptable to one or more of the parties involved.
One proposal sought to formally ‘divert’ the path around the perimeter of the Portobello site where the public could already walk which was of course tantamount to an extinguishment of the obstructed path. Other proposed routes crossed land owned by the on-site residents or ran over the ventilation shafts of the pumping shaft and so raised objections. In the event the route now open was accepted as a compromise and received no objections from the public. A celebratory re-opening and walk of the path was conducted by the mayor of Telscombe, Councillor Joanna Wilkins, on 30 November 2017 with many campaigners present.
Continuing on your cliff-top walk you can sustain yourself with refreshments at the Smugglers Rest or Telscombe Tavern both of which have outdoor seating areas with coastal views for the warmer weather. Various eateries can be found further along the South Coast Road in Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven.
Photo by Christine Bowman of The Telscombe Residents Association.