Although there is a very frequent bus service east from Brighton along the coast road to Eastbourne only service 13X diverts via Birling Gap and the Top of Beachy Head**, somewhere that on a tour of the "Edge of England" shouldn't be missed. Unfortunately service 13X runs only four times a day and the first of these leaves Brighton at 0915, fifteen minutes before bus passes become valid. As I would have had to pay from Brighton to Rottingdean anyway and as my accommodation didn't provide breakfast, I took an earlier bus out to Rottingdean and enjoyed breakfast in a cafe there before re-starting the journey proper on the 13X due at 0935, although in practice it didn't arrive until 0948 anyway!
** When I worked for the bus company that ran the Beachy Head service, conductors were instructed to keep a close eye on any passenger buying a single ticket to the top!
|Broken-down 13X in Eastbourne with the driver|
flagging down the following bus to rescue us.
Although I'd encountered a number of minor problems during this exercise the first full-scale breakdown occurred today. After a strenuous run over the cliffs from Rottingdean, including the diversion to the top of Beachy Head, our 13X expired - after all the hard work had been done - on the hill down into Eastbourne, about six stops from the town centre. A warning light had come on and the cautious young lady driver rang in for advice, being told by an equally cautious depot to stop where she was and await assistance.
As she was about as far from the company's depot in Hove as their buses go she would no doubt be there a long time, but her passengers - including myself - were rescued by a following 12A after about 15 minutes wait and I arrived in Eastbourne half-an-hour later than planned.
It didn't matter, as buses on today's run were frequent and the timertable was flexible. After a walk around Eastbourne, which seemed a lot less run down than many seaside resorts I visited during this trip, I boarded a Stagecoach bus bound for Hastings.
An Unexpected Stopover
|De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea|
I hadn't planned to stop in Bexhill-on-Sea, but then I had forgotten about the De La Warr Pavilion there, and was only reminded of it when the bus stopped outside. I'm a great fan of Art Deco buildings (although the De La Warr, which was built in 1935, is usually decsribed as "Modernist") and the combination of the Pavilion, some other interesting buildings on the sea front and the imminence of lunch time, led to a snap decision to abandon ship.
As a result I spent a very enjoyable hour or so in the resort and was really glad that the flexibility of today's plan allowed me to do so, later boarding a following Stagecoach bus to complete the journey to Hastings. You can read more about the De La Warr Pavillion here.
I alighted at the Pier. In 2010 it had burned down (not for the first time) and subsequent winter storms had damaged what was left. But a group of local activists had managed to raise the funding and persuade the powers-that-be to rebuild it. It re-opened earlier this year but those behind the restoration have chosen not to attempt to recreate a Victorian pier and have gone for what they call a "21st Century Pier". I can understand the approach, although I'm in two minds whether they have succeeded. It's certainly better than a smouldering and storm-damaged wreck though!
I'd decided not to go any further today before returning to Brighton, so after a walk around the Old Town (rather more interesting than the new one) and a quick ride up the West Cliff Railway (which doesn't count for the purposes of the "Edge" tour). I returned to Brighton, not by train as originally planned, but by bus, which gave me another chance to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery, particularly west of Eastbourne.