Route name: Brighton Seafront
Distance: 7 miles
Start: White Cliffs Café, Saltdean
Finish: Hove train station
NCN route number: 2
Train stations: Brighton and Hove
Terrain, gradients and access: Tarmac path with a short on-road section at Rottingdean
Route description: This cliff top and promenade ride offers some wonderful views across the English Channel on its way to Brighton and Hove, one of the south coast’s liveliest cities with a growing cycling culture. Start at White Cliffs Café opposite Saltdean Park and Lido, where there are two options for heading west towards Brighton. NCN 2 follows the cliff top path, where the elevated position offers wonderful views of the chalk cliffs and sea. On this route you’ll ride past the distinctive black Rottingdean Windmill and the colossal building of the world-renowned Roedean School overlooking the water. Alternatively, take a more sheltered ride along Undercliff Walk and closely follow the shoreline beneath the white chalk cliffs, with views stretching across the Channel all the way. It’s a refreshing and easy cycle whichever route you choose, and both paths join together again at Madeira Drive near Brighton Marina. This is the biggest marina in Europe, so have a wander between the sleek boats and apartments, and around the parasol-covered terraces of the popular bars and restaurants here. Leaving the marina, reach Black Rock and ride alongside the tracks of Volks Electric Railway, passing Brighton’s naturist beach along the way, discretely concealed behind a shingle ridge. The Victorian arches that run alongside the path are incredibly elegant, and you’ll pass the Artists’ Quarter on the lower promenade where little cafes and galleries occupy the space beneath the arches. There’s a real energy and lust for life around this part of Brighton, and the mix of cyclists, skaters and joggers that you’ll meet along the path gives it an almost Californian feel in high summer. Ride past the Brighton Wheel and the famous Brighton Pier, and consider taking a short on-road trip from here into the town to find the ‘extravagant pleasure palace’ of the Royal Pavilion, Prince Regent’s over-the-top bachelor pad. Back on the promenade you can’t miss the sad skeleton of West Pier out in the water but, derelict as it is, it still comes alive every winter at dusk when one of the UK’s most spectacular starling roosts takes place there. In the final mile, ride past the magnificently restored Victorian bandstand and end at the grassy seafront spot of Hove Lawns. There’s a signed on-road route through Hove’s wide streets to the train station, or continue a further mile from the Lawns to Hove Lagoon, where the route joins the road to Shoreham-by-Sea.
Loops, links and longer rides: Downs and Weald route is a 164-mile on-road and traffic-free route from London to Hastings, via Brighton. NCN 2 Shoreham Promenade.
Eat and drink: Try White Cliffs Café at Saltdean or Molly’s café and The White Horse pub at Rottingdean. There are lots of waterside restaurants at Brighton Marina Village, or try Pavilion Gardens Café, Bandstand Café or Velo at The Level, a wonderful cycle café. The Upper Crust Bakery at Hove is very popular.
Cycle Hire: Amsterdammers’, Brighton train station (01273) 571555 www.brightoncyclehire.co.uk
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