The Seahaven Coastal Trail is a lovely walk of approximately twelve miles, which stretches from Exceat, in the Cuckmere Valley, to Saltdean. Exceat was a tiny village, which was abandoned in the 1400s and as such, now only exists as the Visitors Centre in the Seven Sisters Country Park. The two and a half mile walk across the cliffs from Newhaven to Peacehaven provides stunning views in both directions.
Newhaven is an important cross channel port at the mouth of the River Ouse in East Sussex, providing regular passenger services to Dieppe in four hours. Before 1539, the River Ouse flowed into the sea at Seaford, but eventually it became silted up. In 1539, a new channel was made for the river to reach the sea. This became known as “The Newhaven” and became the port of Newhaven in 1882. The West Beach at Newhaven is popular. Near to the beach is The Hope Inn, a country pub by the sea. It is family run and dog friendly and overlooks the busy harbour.
Above the beach is Castle Hill, now a nature reserve, but it was once the site of a Bronze Age hill fort. Unfortunately, due to soil erosion and later construction work, it is difficult to see the shape or size of the ancient hill fort.
Newhaven Fort and gun emplacements are situated on the cliffs. Construction of the Fort began in 1862 and is now operated as a military museum open to the public. It was declared an ancient monument in 1979. Inside the Fort there are vast tunnels built into the chalk cliffs. The first permanent gun battery was built in 1759, following French raids on Seaford. During World War II, a gun battery was built on Castle Hill in 1943.
Beside Newhaven Fort, is a coastguard watchtower, 175 feet above sea level and manned by volunteers from the National Coastwatch Institution. From the tower can be observed 400 square miles of sea from Brighton to Seaford Head and the shipping lanes of the English Channel.
The walk from Newhaven Fort to Peacehaven provides spectacular views across Friars’ Bay. The path is unfenced and care must be taken, as the clifftop easily crumbles. Cliff falls are common. The path arrives at cliffs overlooking the eastern end of the Undercliff Walk at Peacehaven. This can be accessed near Cliff Avenue, down a flight of very steep and narrow steps to the Undercliff and the pebble beach.