Today we are driving from historic Rye in East Sussex along the coast to Worthing in West Sussex. Storm Ophelia was approaching the UK today. As the day progressed we started to see a very unusual dark and orange looking sky, caused by the storm pushing Sahara sand and Iberian wildfire smoke our way.
Photo of the day
Seaford Beach, with Storm Ophelia on its way.
Our first stop of the day in Rye, the small ancient town was so quaint with its cobbled streets.
St Mary Church’s turret clock is the oldest working clock of its type in the country.
Tudor houses fronting on to the churchyard.
The 13th century Ypres Tower town defences. In 1377 the church and town had been looted, set on fire and destroyed by French invaders!
The steep cobbled Mermaid Street. Although it was an early Monday morning there were already a few other tourists pottering around. Glad we hadn’t been here on a busy summer weekend.
The town is now 2 miles inland as a result of the River Rother starting to silt up 500 years ago. So we drove down to the coast to view Rye Harbour.
Winchelsea Beach. The town, a bit further inland, dates back to the 13th century. It was Britain’s first properly planned ‘new’ town.
The view from The Stade at Hastings back to Rock-a-Nore Beach and East Hill.
The Stade Beach in front of Hastings Old Town.
The tall black wooden Net Shops on the beach front at Hastings. They were used to dry fishing nets.
The recently restored Hastings Miniature Railway.
Looking up All Saints Street in The Old Town.
We had just walked past The Crown Pub, which had just been voted the best place to have a pint in the UK. Unfortunately we only read that after leaving Hastings….
More colourful beach huts on Bulverhythe Beach, just a few miles west of Hastings.
The elegant Bexhill-on-Sea Promenade.
The De La Warr Pavilion on the sea front at Bexhill, now a local centre for contemporary art. Bob Marley had his first ever UK performance there too.
Driving past some rather large houses we reached Cooden Beach.
Yet more colour-coordinated beach huts along Eastbourne Beach.
The view along Eastbourne Beach to the pier. By now we were starting to see the weird coloured pre-Storm Ophelia sky.
Caterpillar trucks were shifting around shingle on the beach, to restore the sea defences in preparation for winter storms.
Really dramatic views over the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head to the Lighthouse.
Don’t look down….. you could walk right up to the cliff edge!
Belle Tout Lighthouse, now a private residence. In 1999 it had to be moved 17 meters back from the cliff edge to save it falling off due to coastal erosion. It was featured in the BBC’s ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil’ and James Bond’s ‘The Living Daylights’.
Parts of the original building and foundations, right on the cliff edge. In the distance you can see the cliffs of the Seven Sisters past Birling Gap.
The bright white Seven Sisters chalk cliffs viewed from the National Trust managed Birling Gap.
It felt like the end of the world. The lighting was totally surreal. Such a dark sky in the distance over Newhaven, contrasting against the bright blue-green sea, and the warm colours of the pebble beach. Storm Ophelia was on its way.
Another palette of candy coloured beach huts on Seaford Beach.
The lighthouse at the end of the breakwater at Newhaven, we had also seen it in the distance from Seaford.
The path down to Newhaven Fort, with Seaford Bay in the background. The fort was the largest defence built on the Sussex coastline.
As we know Brighton well, having had our UK base and home there for the last few years, we just stopped briefly to take photos of the famous Brighton Pier (AKA Brighton Palace Pier).
The Brighton Pier is now the only surviving pier at Brighton, the Royal Suspension Chain Pier was its predecessor, but you can still see remains of the West Pier opposite the British Airways i360 tower.
The long promenade at Hove, Brighton’s coastal neighbour.
Actually we didn’t stop at Southwick, but we got stuck in a traffic jam along the River Adur, so managed this picture of a fishing boat from the car window.
Lancing beach was really busy with kite-surfers, unfortunately the photos were pretty terrible (I blame the weird pre-storm lighting), but we caught them on video, check below.
Looking west towards Worthing Pier in the distance.
Worthing, our final stop on this four day part of our Coastal Road Trip. The original pier dates back to 1862 though through fire and storm damage it has been rebuilt and updated many times over the years.
On day thirty-eight we will be covering most of the Kent coastline, so a long day of travel, and the weather is absolutely fantastic for mid-October!
Photo of the day
Isle of Sheppey
As we have a lot of ground to cover today, we made an early Sunday morning start driving over The Swale to the Isle of Sheppey.
After a quick stop at Sheerness on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey, we headed over to Leysdown-on-Sea’s beach on the east of the isle, with views across the empty Thames Estuary.
Smart beach huts lined up on the front at Leysdown Coastal Park.
My Whippy on early morning duty at Whitstable’s Harbour.
More colourful beach huts along Whitstable’s Tankerton Slopes. If you look carefully you can see the remains of Herne Bay Pier Head out at sea.
An MOD scooter meet-up in front of Herne Bay’s Clock Tower on the Central Parade. A great day for a bike ride.
The Pier at Herne Bay….
…. and out at sea the remains of the pier head, which got separated from the rest of Herne Bay Pier in a storm back in 1978.
A jet-skier making the most of the October heatwave.
Then looking east, views along Herne Bay Beach and Saxon Shore towards Reculver Towers in the distance.
The medieval Reculver Towers, the remains of the church of St Mary, looking stunning against the blue sky.
Reculver has suffered major coastal erosion over the years, and now the Reculver Towers are perched right on the edge of the sea cliff.
A panorama of Margate Bay.
The lighthouse at the end of Margate Harbour Arm breakwater.
On Fulsam Rock by the Margate foreshore, the Turner Contemporary was exhibiting the lone figure ‘Another Time’ by Antony Gormley. A nice reminder of day 7 of our Coastal Road Trip, where we had seen the complete version of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ sculptures submerged in Crosby Beach.
North Foreland Lighthouse
On the way to Broadstairs, the North Foreland Lighthouse sitting above fields leading down to Joss Bay.
Broadstair’s Viking Bay with its steep cliffs down to the beach.
Whilst stopping on the Victoria Parade above Ramsgate’s Beach, we realised we had parked in-front of this funny pirate themed camper-van….
… please do not disturb! 😉
Views down to the east and west piers at the mouth of Ramsgate’s harbour and marina.
Ramsgate’s Yacht Marina looking almost Mediterranean with the bright blue sky and waters.
The 16th century Deal Castle. If you Google aerial photos of it, you will see it actually looks somewhat like a flower from above.
Wooden fishing boats resting on Deal Beach.
The Pier at Deal is better seen from a distance. It was pretty brutal looking close-up!
Finally we have made it to the famous White Cliffs of Dover. It had been on our to-do list for quite some time. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea to visit on this sunny Sunday afternoon as it was pretty busy. Fortunately the land is managed by the National Trust so we parked for free, which made up for the pricey coffee and cake!
Thumbs-up from Jarno….
… and a wave from Julian’s shadow.
Looking down through the sea mist to Dover’s bustling ferry port.
Dover Castle silhouetted against the bright but hazy evening skyline.
Banksy’s Brexit street art just off a roundabout, as we drove through Dover. Not the best welcome for our European neighbours as they arrive off the Dover ferry onto mainland Britain.
The lone pilot sculpture by Harry Gray at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, just outside Folkestone.
The sun starting to set over the Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 Replica US-X planes at the Battle of Britain Memorial.
We were struggling what to take a photo of as we drove through Folkestone, until we past a row of handsome hotels above the cliffs on the Leas Promenade. Agatha Christie, wrote Murder on the Orient Express whilst staying here at The Grand.
The long seafront and esplanade at Sandgate, just west of Folketone.
Our final stop of the day at the surreal Dungeness. The area was a weird mix of beach, barren marshland, artist community, pub, gift shop, train station, lighthouses and a nuclear power station. What a mix!
The Old Lighthouse and its neighbor, the nuclear power station….
…and closer to the headland the current lighthouse. Not your traditional lighthouse, but pretty sleek, and looked great lit-up in the clear evening sky.
We are travelling 104 miles today as we drive first along the north side of the River Thames and estuary, then back along the south side. One of our busiest days for traffic too as we skirt around the edge of London. However, there was a mid-October heatwave, so at least we are lucky with the weather!
Photo of the day
Pocahontas statue (yes, you read that right!) in a graveyard in Gravesend.
We started off with a short detour east from Southend-on-Sea to Shoeburyness at the mouth of the River Thames Estuary. Views northeast from Gunners Park towards Shoebury East Beach.
Interesting welcome signs at the entrance to the Thames. It is a shame that the war defences were covered in graffiti, but at least it brought some colour to the concrete.
Shoeburyness was a pleasant surprise, with smart military avenues and squares, mixed with newer developments. We also tried to continue further north past the St Nicolas Church at Great Wakering, but found ourselves heading into a Ministry of Defence area, so did a quick u-turn.
Heading back into Southend-on-Sea, we made a short stop at the beach by the Ness Road Slipway with views towards Southend-on-Sea.
The longest pleasure pier in the world at Southend-on-Sea, stretching into the hazy sunshine.
It is so long (1.34 miles) that you can take a train to the end!
The entrance to Southend Pier flanked by roller-coasters at Adventure Island.
Abandoned boats in the marshes on the edge of the Thames Estuary at Leigh-on-Sea.
Driving through Canvey Island (basically a large housing estate) we arrived at Canvey Point and the nearby Smallgains Marina.
More Thames defences at Coalhouse Fort. The original fortifications date back to the 15th century. More recently it has been used for a variety of purposes, including being featured at the start of the ‘Batman Begins’ film. It is now a pleasant park overlooking the Thames, where today families were enjoying the sunny afternoon.
The Worlds End Pub on the way to Tilbury Fort. Aren’t British pub names great?! This pub was haunted too!
Guns at Tilbury Fort. The first fort was built here by Henry VIII in the 16th century, and continued in use until after World War II.
Looking west up the Thames from Tilbury Fort to the cruise terminal and a wind farm project.
The Thames was busy with yachts, making the most of the lovely weather.
Heading south over the Queen Elizabeth II Darford Crossing Bridge.
Probably the biggest surprise of the day, finding a statue of Pocahontas in the graveyard of St George’s Church in Gravesend. Pocahontas had died on a ship on the River Thames close to Gravesend, and her remains are thought to be buried somewhere close to St George’s Church.
Heading across the Hoo Peninsula, we decided to stop at the quiet RSPB Northward Hill nature reserve. Along the track there were lovely views over apple orchards turning autumn red, quite a contrast to the shipping port at Stanford-le-Hope across the Thames.
A quaint cobbled lane leading down through Upper Upnor to the River Medway.
Upnor Castle had just closed for the day, so we took in the views across the marshes on the edge of the River Medway.
Another selfie moment at Rochester Castle, its orgins dating back to the 12th century.
The castle towering an impressive 113 feet high.
Red roofs of Rochester. Rochester was a well preserved historical town, and we learnt it had actually been inspiration for many of Charles Dickens’ novels.
The Norman Rochester Cathedral. Apparently Jools Holland is a big fan of the acoustics. We then made our way along the Medway to Chatham Historic Dockyard for dinner, before heading to Sittingbourne for the night.
After a few weeks break from our coastal road trip, we are now continuing our journey, this time over four days from Ipswich in Suffolk to Worthing in West Sussex. Hence the sunny weather in the Ipswich picture (September), then a bit gloomy as we continued into Essex (October).
Photo of the day
A helter-skelter on Clacton-on-Sea’s pier.
Our last photo as we finished the first 5 weeks of our Coastal Road Trip at Ipswich Waterfront. Feeling quite pleased with ourselves!
Working our way down the south side of the River Stour we made the first stop of the day at Mistley Towers in Essex, the remains of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
The wooden Ha’penny Pier at Harwich, named after the original toll charge for the Victorian pier. The Port of Felixtowe in the gloomy background.
The Lightvessel LV18 moored off the Ha’penny Pier, the last surviving example of a manned Trinty House light vessel, now a museum.
Harwich High Lighthouse that was used in combination with the Low Lighthouse as a leading light for Harwich Harbour.
And the Low Lighthouse on the promenade, now the local Maritime Museum.
Then just a few minutes further along the coast we reached the two matching iron towered Dovercourt Low and High Lighthouses.
Walton on the Naze
The navigational Naze Tower north of Walton on the Naze. With a beacon at the top, it was used as an early form of lighthouse to guide ships through the Goldmer Gap.
Walton on the Naze Beach… and the sun trying to make an appearance. Yay!
Walton on the Naze Pier. To be honest we had seen better looking piers, though the brightly painted beach huts attempted to brighten-up the area.
Frinton On Sea
A rather elaborate looking clock tower shelter on the Frinton Beach Esplanade.
More beach huts adding some colour to Holland Haven near Holland-on-Sea.
Stopping for some lunch at Clacton Pier.
The helter-skelter looking a bit spooky on the deserted pier.
Just proving we were there 😉
Some rather scary looking steps down to the sea from the pier.
Clearly we were out of season with the empty entertainment noticeboards.
If it’s not lighthouses it’s beach huts today!
A rather unloved looking boat at West Mersea….
… and the houseboats looking like they are in the middle of a field.
Another Trinity Lightship, also with the illusion of being moored in a field.
The picturesque lock at Heybridge Basin, joining the Blackwater estuary and the canal to Chelmsford.
Old Thames barges moored at Maldon’s Hythe Quay.
The barges had been beautifully restored, several are still in use as charters.
As walked down a long farm track to the remote St Peter’s Chapel we came across this funny sign. Something was ‘coming soon’, not sure what…
St Peter’s Chapel on the headland near Sales Point, one of the oldest Chistian churches in England, dating from the 7th century. Around a thousand years later, in the 17th century it was in use as a barn. You can still see where the barn doors were placed on the side.
We were surprised that the church door was open, so we had a quick look inside. Pretty good condition for 1,400 years old!
The Yacht Harbour at Burnham-on-Crouch, our final stop of the day before heading to Southend-on-Sea for the night.
So we’ve managed to complete thirty-five days of continuous travel, as we drove from Cardiff to Ipswich. Yay! That’s the first and main leg of our coastal road trip completed, and what a great day to spend this milestone, as we travel the beautiful Suffolk coastline….
Photo of the day
Calm reflective waters as the sunset at Felixtowe Ferry.
Bam! Our first stop of the day and it’s a lighthouse. The bright white Lowestoft Lighthouse looking great against the fresh blue morning sky.
On this trip we have traveled to the most westerly point of Britain at Ardnamurchan (day 17), the most northerly point at Dunnet Head (day 24), and now we have reached the most easterly point at Ness Point! Not the most exciting view, to be honest…
Julian sitting on the Euroscope at Ness Point, designed by John Wylson.
A handsome row of houses along Lowestoft’s South Beach Promenade.
The Lowestoft South Beach lifeguard keeping an eye on a lone swimmer (that just swam out of the photo).
Driving past glorious meadows as we meandered along the small country lanes near Benachre.
Such rich colours in the mid morning sunshine.
The grade II listed Southwold Lighthouse towering over Southwold’s seafront houses.
Southwold Pier, extending 190m in to the North Sea.
The small ferry being rowed from Southwold across the fast moving River Blyth to Walberswick. He was doing a busy trade this sunny Saturday lunchtime.
A short detour inland to view the Holy Trinity Church in the small village of Blythburgh. Also know as The Cathedral of the Marshes, it was surprisingly light inside.
Children playing in the waves at Dunwich Beach, silhouetted against the sea. Sizewell nuclear power station lurking in the distance.
The remains of the Augustinian Leiston Abbey, originally home to the strict Premonstratensian order, who favoured remote locations.
A farmhouse had been built into the remains of the nave after the suppression.
The Thorpeness village sign with its iconic House in the Clouds and windmill.
The large meare that had been dug out by hand in the early 20th century, with the bright red House in the Clouds living up to its name.
The House in the Clouds, originally built as a water tower, and now a pretty cool holiday house.
In the 1920s and 30s Thorpeness Windmill had been used to pump water into the tank at the top of the House in the Clouds.
The Scallop sculpture at RSPB North Warren, designed by Maggi Hambling as a tribute to Benjamin Britten, the Aldeburgh born composer.
Boats on the beach behind the upmarket Aldeburgh high street.
One of the many sculptures at our next stop at Snape Maltings. A fascinating place, with an amazing music venue, shops, artist workshops, sculptures and nature walks. Quite a curious mix, but done so well, we were really impressed.
A rainbow forming over Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man sculpture.
Anther dovecote, we haven’t seen one of these since leaving Scotland. But this one had a modern take, and had been converted into a studio.
Orford Castle, Henry II’s splendid keep.
Just down the road from Orford Castle, views from the quay across the River Alde to the Nature Reserve and Orfordness Lighthouse.
The view of Felixtowe’s busy container port from the John Bradfield Viewing Area.
Fishing in the UK’s largest container port.
A beautiful golden sunset across the water to Harwich.
Beach huts along the coast to Felixtowe Ferry.
A final stop on our way to Ipswich for the night. We looped a short way back north east to Felixtowe Ferry, and had stunning views over the calm River Deben, reflecting the yachts in the dusk light.
Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight…. let’s see in the morning.
On day thirty-four, after a walk around King’s Lynn, we got back on the road and headed for The Queen’s home at Sandringham (our third royal location on our trip). We then continued along the Norfolk coastline to Lowestoft, with plenty of windmills and lighthouses along our journey. We packed a lot into today.
Photo of the day
Amazing street art at Sheringham.
Popping in for tea with the Queen at her Sandringham Estate. We were the first to finish the house tour that morning… speedy! Mind you, we halved the average visitor age 😉
Some of The Queens’s favorite things, starting with racing horses. Estimate, who won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
A whole series of stones set in the garden walls, remembering The Queen’s dogs, with lovely little messages.
The stunning ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ adorning one of the Rolls Royce bonnets.
Jarno giving a royal wave in the Lychgate of St Mary Magdalene’s Church, where The Royal Family normally attend the Christmas Day service.
The beautiful ceiling of the 16th century church.
It was the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana.
Many tributes had been left at the Sandringham gates.
Driving through the tranquil Sandringham Country Park.
We made a quick stop at Norfolk Lavender set among 100 acres of lavender fields (yes, we know this isn’t lavender). However, we’d just missed the lavender blooming season (June to August), so made do with a quick walk around their cottage garden.
Hunstanton Beach, the only holiday town beach in Norfolk that faces west, so great for viewing the sunset (if we’d been later in the day).
The Old Hunstanton Lighthouse built in 1840. Its predecessor had the world’s first parabolic reflector in 1776.
Burnham Overy Staithe
Windmills became a common sight as we drove along the Norfolk coastline. The Tower Windmill at Burnham Overy Staithe, a pretty cool National Trust holiday let.
We decided not to visit Holkham Hall, as we’d already spent quite some time in the morning at the Sandringham Estate. So we made do with just viewing Holkham Hall’s North Gate instead.
The very busy (with tourists) and picturesque Wells-next-the-Sea, with its impressive granary malting building and huge canter-levered gantry.
More picturesque villages as we drove along the coast to Blakeney, where we stopped for a coffee at the National Trust run Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The largest seal colony in England, and a very important breeding ground for grey seal pups in the winter months.
Cley next the Sea
We almost gate-crashed a wedding party staying in Cley Windmill.
As we stopped to take photos in Sheringham several locals asked if they could help us. Very friendly, or we just looked lost.
Amazing street art murals on the walls outside the local Mo Museum.
Fishermen posing for street art.
In memory of the local town crier.
The Victorian Cromer Pier, famous for its end of the pier variety show, the last remaining one in the UK.
The radar station at Trimingham (AKA Trimingham Golf Ball). This location was established in the early 1940s to detect low flying German aircraft and E-boats.
More colorful beach huts along Mundesley Beach.
Stow Mill, the local corn windmill, just outside of Mundesley village, now another holiday let.
After driving through yet another lovely Norfolk village, we arrived at the very handsome Happisburgh Lighthouse across the fields. It’s the only independent lighthouse (run by local volunteers) in Great Britain, and the oldest working one in East Anglia.
Eerie lighting as the dark rain clouds passed over us at the National Trust’s Horsey Windpump.
As we drove past Winterton-on-Sea, we noticed this lighthouse protruding above the coastal houses. As we got close we realised it was also now a private home (holiday rental), so just took a quick photo from a neighbour’s drive and continued on our way.
Whilst hunting down a fish & chip shop for our dinner, we came across brightly painted fishermen’s tractors behind the beach at Caister-on-Sea.
Great Yarmouth pirates on the lookout for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
No, we are not in Las Vegas. It’s the other Caesars Palace, the one in Great Yarmouth.
Finally, as the night closed in, we drove south along Great Yarmouth’s promenade reaching Peel Ports. Giant wind turbine blades were sitting ready to be shipped to an off-shore wind farm. Next stop, down the road at Lowestoft for the night.