Starts at Paston Place, Brighton

1 hour 52 minutes | 3.8miles 6.1km | Easy Access

This ramble follows the course of the famous railway that ran from Brighton to Rottindean in the sea. The daddy longlegs ran on twin tracks, 18ft apart. Mostly level and wheelchair accessible with a couple of steep slopes. See text.

Starts at

Paston Place, Brighton, by the Volks Electric railway halfway station TQ325036.

Getting there

Brighton and Hove buses 7,14b, 21, 21b, 23, 27, 27a, 47, 52 and 57 run to Brighton Marina.  Brighton and Hove buses 2, 2a, 12, 12a, 12b, 14, 14b, 14c, 27, 27a and 47 run to Rottingdean.  The Volks Electric railway runs along from near the pier to just before the marina.  Brighton council say that there is a ramp available for wheelchair users.  Details here

There is a small car park near the Ramble at Rottingdean but this is often full.  There is a larger car park just to the east of Rottingdean, but the surface of this is quite rough and there is a steep (1 in 8?) hill down into the village.  Car parking is possible in the streets around the front at Saltdean. The streets nearest the front have double yellow lines.

Route instructions

This ramble follows the course of the famous railway that ran from Brighton to Rottindean in the sea.  The daddy longlegs ran on twin tracks, 18ft apart. You can find more details at  East of Brighton Marina at low tide it is still possible to see the concrete blocks which formed the sleepers.    At high tide in high winds this can be a dramatic and adventurous route, with waves crashing against the sea defences and flying high in the air.  This is one of the few seaside accessible routes which has substantial stretches without buildings.

1) The ramble starts from the Volks Electric Railway at Paston Place- the midpoint on the route.  It was at this point that passengers would disembark to join the daddy longlegs, which left from the groyne to your left.  Start off along this groyne.  Cross the railway and immediately turn left along a concrete path. (If you have parked to the west of here you can reach this point by following the path on the sea side of the road. If you have parked to the east you should know that there is no level access to the sea path between Paston Place and Black Rock stations.)  Follow this path alongside the railway (and past Britain’s first urban naturist beach.- The naturists are, however hidden behind a stone barrier). You reach Black Rock station.  After this cross a car park and aim for Brighton Marina.  At the time of researching the ramble this route was under development and a signed temporary diversion was in place.  By summer 2010 there should be a permanent route.  You pass under the road to the Marina and you should aim to keep as near to the cliff as possible.  You emerge on the concrete walkway that will take you to Rottingdean

If you are coming by bus or from the ASDA car park you need to cross the car park aiming towards the flyover that takes the road into the development.  Turn right here and go up a ramp (about 10 metres at about 1 in 12) and then turn right.

Once you are on the undercliff walk it is impossible to get lost.  Keep going straight ahead with the cliffs above you and the sea on your right. (Sometimes the first stretch is closed because of rock falls.  There is a step free route through the marina, running mainly along the north edge of the boating area.  Ask for directions)

On the first part of the way your views are obscured by the marina development.  As far as Ovingdean there is a sea wall about a metre high to your right.  This will stop you falling into the sea but will obscure the view for smaller wheelchair users.  Providing that you can see over it, at low tide you can see the concrete blocks that mark the route of the daddy longlegs railway.

On reaching Rottingdean you have a number of options.  You can continue along the undercliff to Saltdean, a further kilometre, return the way you came or take the over cliff route back.

The route to Saltdean has some fine views, but when you reach the end you must either go up a small ramp, through a tunnel and then turn right, travelling about 100 metres at around 1 in 20, or attempt about 100 metres at something like 1 in 7.  The first route brings you out near Saltdean Lido (not accessible) near some reasonable car parking.  The second will bring you out on the south side of the road, going past a café (accessibility not checked).  The route back to Rottingdean along the top of the cliffs is not recommended.  There are some steep hills and you must go along the side of the road.

To go to the village, or to return along the cliff route go up one of the ramps.  Avoid the one on the left, the first one you come to.  It looks temptingly gentle, but only leads you to the next ramp, which you hit at an awkward angle.  The other ramps rise for about 10 metres at around 1 in 10.  This will bring you to the centre of Rottingdean.

A route back along the cliffs is possible.  It is hilly and there are a number of stretches of up to 100 metres of up to about one in 10- grade 2.  It has fine views, but you will be by the side of a main road.  Follow the footpath west past the pub and then across the pub car park.  From here you can pick up the paved footpath/cycle route, which is good tarmac or attempt the grass route by the edge of the (fenced) cliff, which is more scenic and a bit further from the road.  The grass track varies between wide stretches of fairly smooth grass and narrow stretches where the path may be muddy.  You may have to double back to the cycle route at some points.  Both routes are obvious.

When you are above the marina the cycle route descends steeply.  You can follow this back to the marina and marine drive, but if you started from Paston Place you may prefer to remain at high level and go along Kings Cliff, which has a wide sea side pavement.  This road gradually descends to the pier.  Cross Marine Drive to the Pier and then turn left to travel along the drive back to the start. (Alternatively turn right and extend the ramble along the front towards Hove Lagoon, 4 km away.

Accessible toilet At Ovingdean, on the ramble, about half way along and at Rottingdean on the undercliff walk just immediately east of the ramp to Rottingdean, also slightly off route in Brighton Marina in the shopping Mall on the South side of the main road, behind a building currently occupied by “Subway”.

Refreshments:  Various pubs and café’s in Brighton Marina which, being of recent development, are likely to have wheelchair access,  Various cafes and pubs in Rottingdean (not checked), There may be take away counters by the Volks station.