Brighton, England: Sep 11-14, 2019

Updated: Feb 4

Activities and locations included in this blog:

  • Walking around Brighton

  • BBQ at Kim and Rob's Home

  • Seven Sister Cliff Walk

  • Beachy Head

  • Arundel Castle

I'll only spend a few sentences explaining why this Airbnb was a disaster. The apartment was new to the market and it looked great in the pictures and in-person but we had water problems for 2 separate days here. First the sink backed up we used the washing machine. This issue was resolved but only after we spent several hours waiting for the Airbnb host to arrive and address the problem. The next day, the faucet in the bathroom broke so we couldn't turn off the faucet. With the drain problems form the previous day we were paranoid that the entire apartment would begin flooding. Fortunately, we were able to find the water shutoff for the apartment in the stairwell leading up to the apartment. This time the host arrived quickly but wouldn't promise the water issue could be resolved and said we might have to move to a hotel. To the extent that I can say we were 'lucky', the host was able to find a plumber so we didn't have to move out. But we refused to let these issues ruin what was suppose to be a relaxing stay.


Day 36

Our decision to stay in Brighton was twofold. We wanted to visit Dave's old friends, Kim and Rob, and we wanted to chill in a beach environment before the London visit. It was time to relax with only 8 days left before we flew home to Massachusetts. We had a late start due to the afore-mentioned plumbing issues.


We decided to spend what was left of the day walking around the city. We headed in the direction of the Birghton Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence. Beginning in 1787, it was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811, and King George IV in 1820. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century. George IV's successors, William IV and Victoria, also used the Pavilion. But Queen Victoria decided that Osborne House should be the royal seaside retreat and the Pavilion was sold to the city of Brighton in 1850. The lines to get in were incredibly long so we decided to forgo the tour and continue walking around the city.

Brighton Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence of King George IV in 1820 in Brighton, England

The next stop was the 'Lanes'. The Lanes are a retail, leisure and residential area near the seafront, characterized by narrow alleyways following the street pattern of the original fishing village. The Lanes contain predominantly clothing stores, jewelers, antique shops, restaurants and pubs. We didn't buy anything but we did find a great pub for lunch. The Lanes had changed a lot since when Dave was here in the 80s for work.

After lunch we headed to the waterfront and a walk on the Brighton Palace Pier. It definitely was not a beach day as the winds had picked up significantly and it was cold walking along the pier.

Brighton Palace Pier from the beach in Brighton, England

Lots of typical arcade games ....

Arcade in the Brighton Palace Pier in Brighton, England

..... except everyone was playing these 'coin tip' games. Sorry I don't get it, the payout is so rare vs the cost to play, but to each their own.

Arcade in the Brighton Palace Pier in Brighton, England

After a day of walking we scheduled a late day spa massage. Hey, sometimes you need to treat yourself!


Day 37

  • BBQ at Kim and Rob's

Today we experienced water problem #2. Of all days, we were suppose to go to Dave's friends house for a BBQ but had to wait until the Airbnb host arrived. She was going to stay at the apartment to see if she schedule a plumber to fix the faucet.


We planned to spend the entire day with Kin and Rob, Dave's friends whom he first met in 1984-85 when he was working on a project in the UK. They planned a BBQ in their back yard and also invited Kim's sisters to join us since they had not seen Dave since 2000. A great reunion!


Day 38

  • Morning Run and Swim

  • Seven Sister Cliff Walk

  • Beachy Head

We started the day going for a run along the coast. It was a cool morning but great weather for a run.

Morning run along the Brighton coastline in England

After the run we went for a quick dip in a 'small' beach. The water felt extra cold!

Seven Sister Cliff Walk

By the time we got back to the apartment and ate breakfast, the weather had cleared and we spent the day walking the Seven Sister and Beachy Head Cliffs. We started the trail at the Seven Sisters Country Park located outside of Seaford.


The trail follows the River Cuckmere as it meanders toward the shore.

Seven Sister Cliff Walk trail follows the River Cuckmere outside of Seaford, England

From the river we walked up Haven Brow, the first of the hilltops. The Seaford Head cliffs directly across from us are not part of the Seven Sisters but they were still impressive. It's easy to see the delineation where the chalk layer has been overlaid with a glacial cap of sandstone and gravel.

The Seaford Head cliffs directly across from Haven Brow, one of the Seven Sisters cliffs in England

These cliffs are known as the “Seven Sisters” due to the seven distinct hilltops that comprise their profile when viewed from a boat in the channel. Unfortunately we weren't in a boat so I've reused a picture from the blog 'from bluetogreen.com'. We walked along the path for the first 3 hills: (left to right) Haven Brow, Short Brow and Rough Brow.

Courtesy of frombluetogreen.com

People gathered at the edge of Haven Brow. Haven Brow at 253 feet is the tallest of the Seven Sisters. Topped with green grass, the brilliant white cliffs plunge into the sea. Although the cliffs of Dover might be more famous, many people consider the Seven Sisters more dramatic and beautiful. Their whiteness is due to sedimentary chalk limestone that comprise the majority of the cliffs.

People gathered on the edge of Haven Brow, one of the Seven Sisters cliffs in England. Cliff whiteness is due to sedimentary chalk limestone

Chalk is a pure white limestone formed from the remains of tiny marine organisms (plankton) that lived and died in clear warm seas that covered much of Britain around 70 to 100 million years ago. When they died, they fell to the bottom in a rain of fine white mud that was compacted and hardened to form chalk. A view of Short Brow and Rough Brow from the top of Haven Brow.

A view of Short Brow and Rough Brow from the top of Haven Brow one of the Seven Sisters Cliffs in England

The cliffs are eroding at about 12-15 inches each year on average. It is not just the action of the sea from below that cause this erosion but also heavy rainfall from above.  Rainwater passes through the chalk and then freezes as temperatures drop. The water then expands and cracks the chalk, causing the cliffs to erode from the top. When the chalk erodes it does so in such a way that large pieces fall away and leave near vertical faces which helps create the steepness of the cliffs. The process is intermittent with major falls occurring two of three times per year. Where these falls occur they protect the base of the cliffs from the sea and usually there are no falls in the same places for eight or nine years until the sea undercuts the cliffs again.


A view of Rough Brow the third hilltop taken from Short Brow.

A view of Rough Brow the third hilltop taken from Short Brow one of the Seven Sisters Cliffs in England.

Luckily for the Seven Sisters Cliffs, it this very process of erosion that has allowed them to retain their white color since similar cliff faces around the world have received increased protection which halts the erosion, they have begun to accumulate vegetation that is slowly mottling their color. It's easy to see why Seven Sisters Cliffs are listed in the book '1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die'.

Seven Sisters Cliffs in England. Amazing white cliff along England coast

For safety reason, people are advised to go no nearer than 30 ft to the cliff edge.

Seven Sisters Cliffs in England. Amazing white cliff along England coast

Even though there are no cliffs visible in this picture, I really like how how it infers a dramatic plunge into the sea at the edge.

Seven Sisters Cliffs in England. Amazing white cliff along England coast

Beachy Head

Beachy Head is another famous chalk headland located to the east of the Seven Sisters. It was a beautiful walk along the cliff side grass lands.

Beachy Head cliff walk along the England coast

The name Beachy Head appears as 'Beauchef' in 1274, becoming 'Beaucheif' by 1317, and it has nothing to do with the word "beach". Instead, it is a corruption of the original French words meaning "beautiful headland" (beau chef). By this time the sun was creating a more golden cliff color.

Beachy Head cliff walk along the England coast

Beachy Head, at 531-feet, is the highest sea cliff in Britain. It's possible to see it from the beach below but difficult to reach that way and time limited because of tides that rise quickly to a depth of seven feet or more. Notice the person standing near the edge of the cliff.

Beachy Head, at 531-feet, is the highest sea cliff in Britain

Beachy Head Lighthouse is located in the English Channel below Beachy Head. It stands 141 ft high and is located approximately 500 ft seaward from the base of the cliffs. The lighthouse has been operational since 1902.

Beachy Head Lighthouse is located in the English Channel below Beachy Head. It stands 141 ft high

So what do you do after walking 6.2 miles along the cliffs? You have dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Brighton and drink mojitos. For the record, I did not stick the straw up my nose.

Drinking mojitos at Mexican restaurant in Brighton, England

Since this was our last night we also went out to a couple of clubs.


Day 39

  • Arundel Castle

Today we are heading to London after a stop at Arundel Castle. As importantly, we'll also be turning in the SUV at Heathrow Airport since we'll use public transportation in London. When I look back is funny how we don't even think about which side of the road to drive on or how to navigate a roundabout . Thirty-nine days of driving without any accidents or major hiccups is amazing. We 'over insured' the car since we believed the odds of an accident-free trip were not in our favor but we were proven wrong. The only problem we had was the back driver's side window was 'shattered in place' but a mechanic believed the problem was in the window because of how the cracks appeared.


An aerial view of Arundel Castle with its commanding view of the River Arun. It's one of those photos that is worth including in the blog even though I didn't take the picture.

By Chensiyuan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61252048

The view of Arundel Castle as we approached the village was imposing, so it's hard to imagine how much more so in would have been during the Middle Ages.

View of Arundel Castle from the nearby village

The original castle was founded on Christmas Day 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, one of William the Conqueror's most loyal barons. He was awarded a third of Sussex with the stipulation that a new castle be built near the mouth of the Arun to protect the approaches to Sussex from attack.

Arundel Castle has served as a hereditary stately home of the Duke of Norfolk for over 800 years

Apart from a brief periods of ownership by the Crown, since 1138, Arundel Castle has passed by inheritance in all but 2 or 3 generations in a direct male line: from the d'Albinis to the Fitzalans in the 13th century and then in the 16th century through marriage from the Fitzalans to Philip Howard Duke of Norfolk.


The Howards dominated Tudor politics (1485-1603) and were powerful allies of each of the six Tudor monarchs. Interestingly, the 3rd Duke promoted his nieces Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII wife #2) and Catherine Howard (Henry VIII wife #5) to the English throne. The 4th Duke Thomas Howard (1536-72) was named a traitor and was beheaded for planning a marriage with Mary Queen of Scots. It's impossible to imagine Tudor history without the the Howards.

Imposing Arundel Castle towers and walls. The castle has ties to the Howard Family and Tudor politics

Through all of these changes, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 800 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family. The Duke of Norfolk is the premier duke in the peerage of England, in fact past and present dukes have been descended from Edward I.

Imposing curtain walls surrounding Arundel Castle

Curtain walls surround the entire castle.

Imposing curtain walls surrounding Arundel Castle
Imposing curtain walls surrounding Arundel Castle

Among the oldest surviving parts of the castle is the Keep dating originally from 1068 with alterations throughout the following three centuries. A Keep on a mound such as this is known as a "motte".

The oldest surviving parts of Arundel Castle is the Keep dating originally from 1068

From this picture taken through a castle window, it's easy to see the commanding view the Keep has over the entire castle complex. The Keep was built shortly after Empress Matilda stayed at Arundel. Empress Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, she moved to Germany as a child when she married the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry V.

Commanding view of the Keep from the Arundel Castle complex

The Keep is linked to the rest of the castle by a walkway built on top of the curtain walls.

The Arundel Keep is linked to the rest of the castle by a walkway built on top of the curtain walls

The medieval entrance into the castle was through the Barbican, shown below. This has been traditionally dated to 1295.

The medieval entrance into the Arundel Castle was through the Barbican built around 1295.

The Bevis Tower, to the left of the wall entrance, was originally called the Beaumont Tower. It dates to the 14th century and probably was built by the 3rd Earl of Arundel in 1376.

The Bevis Tower in Arundel Castle dates to the 14th century
The Bevis Tower in Arundel Castle dates to the 14th century

During the Civil War (1642-45), Arundel was badly damaged when it was twice besieged, first by Royalists who took control and then by Cromwell's Parliamentarian force. Nothing was done to repair the damage until about 1718 when Thomas, the 8th Duke of Norfolk (1683-1732) carried out some necessary repairs. It wasn't until the end of the 18th century that Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk commenced rebuilding and remodeling the site in a Gothic theme. Queen Victoria describing it as “bad architecture” and the castle complex was substantially restyled by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk. The buildings we see today owes much to his restoration project which was completed in 1900. Several of the castle rooms are accessible to the public. Many of these rooms are still used by the family.


Within the castle is Chapel of the Howard family.

The Chapel of the Howard family in Arundel Castle

The dining room still used on special occasions by the family.

The elegant dining room in Arundel Castle

The Grand Hall also know as the Baron's Hall was renovated in 1893-98.

The Grand Hall in Arundel Castle was renovated in the 1890s
The Grand Hall in Arundel Castle was renovated in the 1890s

The Drawing Room with the Norfolk crest on the fireplace.

The Drawing Room with the Norfolk crest on the fireplace in Arundel Castle

The magnificent wood panel library.

The magnificent wood panel library in Arundel Castle

A large stone gate leads to beautiful gardens and the Fitzalan Chapel.

A large stone gate leads to beautiful gardens and the Fitzalan Chapel on Arundel Castle grounds
Beautiful gardens on Arundel Castle grounds
Beautiful gardens on Arundel Castle grounds
Beautiful gardens on Arundel Castle grounds
Beautiful gardens an fountains on Arundel Castle grounds

A view of St. Nicholas's Church from the gardens.

St. Nicholas's Church from Arundel Castle grounds

The Fitzalan chapel founded in 1380 by the 4th Earl of Arundel. It has been the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk since 1390.

The Fitzalan chapel founded in 1380 by the 4th Earl of Arundel on Arundel Castle grounds

The chapel was badly damaged in 1643 during the English Civil War. It remained neglected throughout the 18th century. Bernard Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk, is credited with initiating major repairs to the chapel in 1837. His successors expanded and restored the chapel further.

The inside of the Fitzalan Chapel and altar at Arundel Castle

The tomb of Earl Thomas Fitzalan (1415) and his wife Countess Beatrice (1439). Thomas Fitzalan, 5th Earl of Arundel, 10th Earl of Surrey was an English nobleman and a major figure during the reign of Henry IV. His wife Beatrice of Portugal was the daughter of John I of Portugal.

The tomb of Earl Thomas Fitzalan (1415) and his wife Countess Beatrice (1439) in Fitzalan Chapel on Arundel Castle grounds

The tomb of John Fitzalan, 14th Earl of Arundel, 4th Baron Maltravers (1435) was an English nobleman and military commander during the later phases of the Hundred Years' War. During his lifetime an effigy of him as a corpse was sculpted to remind him of his mortality, despite his great wealth. Now this sculpture decorates his tomb, underneath the sculpture of him in life.

The tomb of John Fitzalan, 14th Earl of Arundel, 4th Baron Maltravers (1435) in Fitzalan Chapel on Arundel Castle grounds.

After visiting the chapel it was time to leave Arundel and begin our drive to London. When we arrived at the AirBnb we quickly unloaded the SUV and drove to Heathrow Airport to return the vehicle. It was another sign that our trip was quickly coming to a close. The only issue we had was explaining the shattered window on the driver's side. A mechanic who had seen the window earlier told us that it looked like a defect in the glass. Fortunately, Europcar agreed and we were quickly processed at the Return Desk.

Now London and the beginning of the end of this amazing trip.


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