Brighton and the South Downs


Facing the sea and backed by rolling chalk downland, Brighton is a great place from which to explore one of England’s most recognisable and best-loved landscapes. As well as the old chalk grasslands, the South Downs incorporate a variety of habitats, including deciduous, coniferous and mixed woodland, heathland, wetland, shingle beach and saltmarsh. The 40 walks in this guidebook cover the area of the Downs around Brighton, extending to Eastbourne in the east and as far as Worthing and the Findon Valley in the west, and from the Channel coat to the foot of the Downs’ steep northern escarpment at the edge of the Sussex Weld.

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Brighton and the South Downs

Facing the sea with rolling chalk Downland rising to landward, Brighton & Hove has one of the finest situations of all English cities. Brighton has a long history as a resort town and continues to be phenomenally popular with visitors from London, across South East England and further afield. The beaches, seafront promenades and city centre teem with visitors in the summer months and Brighton has also recently been called ‘the happiest place to live in the UK’, as well as its ‘hippest city’.

The city has some remarkable architecture, including the famous Royal Pavilion, the grand Regency squares with their imposing terraces and elaborate gardens, the ever-popular Victorian Palace Pier with its funfairs and bright lights and the expansive seafront promenades with the recently erected i360 observation tower. The North Laine and The Lanes areas of town are filled with a dazzling array of independent shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants. The city streets climb the slopes around the valley along which the A23 winds its way to the sea, and parks and gardens of all sizes ensure that nowhere does it feel oppressively urban. Brighton has long been renowned as a centre for the expressive and performing arts, not least for its theatres and live music venues, and it hosts the annual Brighton Festival and the associated Fringe, which takes place at venues throughout Brighton & Hove every May.

The city is home to one of the largest LGBT communities in England. The city’s two universities, Brighton and Sussex, have a combined student population of around 40,000 – a significant slice of the total population of around 295,000. Unsurprisingly, Brighton has a high proportion of younger inhabitants and this is reflected in the city centre’s renowned nightlife with numerous clubs, live music venues and bars. On fine summer evenings the beachfront between the piers has a festival atmosphere.


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