Walks: Berwick to EastbourneSeaford to EastbourneEastbourne to Hastings via BexhillSouthease to Eastbourne, Eastbourne Circular, Eastbourne to Bexhill

Eastbourne's reputation as a haven for the elderly is not undeserved; in summer it is also host to hoards of teenage language students, who congregate on the beach in the evening. But it is perhaps the best of all the south coast resorts, avoiding much of the tackiness of its rivals, and with a moderately shelving shingle beach that extends over a mile in either direction from its elegant old pier. It also has a benign climate, Beachy Head often breaking up clouds when the wind is blowing from the west.

The beach divides into three parts. The section south west from the pier to the Martello tower (known here as the Wish Tower) is the busiest section: swimming here gives you a fine view of the pier and there are also lifeguards in summer. Beyond the Wish Tower is a somewhat more secluded section, the best place for a quiet swim, with shrub-covered slopes and the cliffs of Beachy Head providing the backdrop. North east of the pier, meanwhile, is a long flat section of coast that is less scenic but has its own charms, particularly on a hot summer day.

  • There is quite a brisk current flowing parallel to the shore, so be careful if swimming beyond the end of the groynes.

  • At high tide make sure you don't bang into the underwater part of the groynes (wooded sea-defences, going horizontally out from the shore).

  • A couple of hours either side of low tide the sea retreats across a flat sand and mud bottom, so you have to wade out some way to find sufficient depth for swimming. From the Wish Tower to the Beachy Head end of the beach a large area of rock pools backed by a reef is uncovered at this time, making swimming impossible.

  • One disadvantage of Eastbourne is that being south east-facing, its seafront loses the sunshine in the late afternoon. The last place on the beach to retain the sun is the section immediately in front of the Wish Tower.

  • Food and drink options are obvious near the pier: there are now some rather smart seafront cafe/bars on the promenade. At the Beachy Head end of the promenade, there is the self-service Hollywell Cafe, tucked away in a fold in the hillside. On the north east section of the beach there are a few seasonal cafes and kiosks. For fish and chips, Qualisea in Terminal Road, the main shopping street leading inland from a point 100 metres or so south of the pier, is the traditional choice.

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