Whatever the causes of strife and stress, there is indubitably a big bucks market in relaxation. But for those of us with a lot more common sense than cash, calm can be found in many a place - wherever there is something beautiful, some exercise or something to remind us of happy memories. These places are rarely expensive and I have found many in my home city of London (check out my museums posts for my winter favourites). In summer, the weather sometimes enables me to get into the old bomber and escape to the country.
Today, I'm blogging about somewhere free, bar travel and the price of water and sarnies. Well, not even water if you bring a bottle; they have taps in the visitors' centre. The freeness of the day adds to my feeling of peace and wellbeing, for as we all know by now I'm tighter than the cap on a Coke bottle and anything bargainious fills my tiny icy heart with joy.
Cuckmere Haven is part of the South Downs National Park, located between Eastbourne and Brighton on the South Coast. It is well served by roads and regular bus services, so makes an ideal day trip if you are staying in either of the bigger towns. Being protected, it has no roads and you can walk traffic-free from the car park to the sea (about 1 1/2 KM). The main part of Cuckmere is a valley bringing the river Cuck down towards the beach, with steep chalk banks on each side with more adventurous walks branching off. Originally Victorian flood defenses, the valley is now rich with common and rare bird life, cattle, rabbits and insects. In July and August it is relatively dry underfoot (there are chalk paths for muddy days and those who are less mobile) and offers a wide variety of walks from a gentle half-hour stroll to a full day walking over the famous 'Seven Sisters' chalk cliffs. I know I said exercise is relaxing, but this is me, obviously I went for the easy one!
You start off from the visitors centre, which has a basic gift shop, some exhibits that were there when I was at school and, more usefully, information on what to see that day in terms of nature (essential if you plan a more challenging coastal walk- safety information such as tides and weather are important if you don't want to get stuck!). For the basic walk though, you don't even need boots, I usually wear shell-toes being the confirmed urbanite I am and manage with ease upon my weak, milky-white pins. You can also hire bikes or even canoes, if such things take your fancy. From there, it's simply a case of crossing the road and following the path down the left hand side of the river. The easy walk is by no means solitary, but the combination of families, well-behaved dogs and the odd tourist is rather jolly. Unless a dog decides to shake muddy water all over you. But that only seems to happen to me every time I go there.
Along the walk, there's plenty to see depending on your interests. I like craggy, Gothic landscapes - but there's nature a plenty and frequent signposts to beauty spots and vantage points.
|I like this bit, it's kind of ghostly.|
|The Seven Sisters|
|I know not what these flowers are.|
But they are rather funky.
|Imagine living there! What a view!|
|Pick nick time!|
Still, perhaps that will encourage a lazy walker like me to explore the mightily forested hillsides and steep cliff top walks the park has to offer in future.