Preston Park to Mile Oak

Like many people I first came to Brighton (35 years ago now) as a student, and for ten years I lived in the area between the Duke of York cinema and London Road station. I come from a family of walkers and I have such good memories of my walks when I first lived in Brighton. 

I would regularly explore the local area on foot and my favourite walk encompassed the parks and leafy roads near to where I lived. I would walk along Beaconsfield Road and down to Preston Park, walking the whole way across the park, through the rose garden (smelling the roses if they were in bloom), past the bowling greens and tennis courts, and through the little churchyard at the other side, reading the gravestones en route.

I would then cross the road and walk up the hill through the tree lined Surrenden Road past Varndean, where I would admire the houses and imagine being lucky enough to live there one day (I haven’t achieved this ambition!). I would come out onto Ditchling Road where there is a lovely view of the sea and walk downhill past Hollingbury Park. When I reached Fiveways, I would head down to Blakers Park, walk through the park and return home via Beaconsfield Road.

This walk enabled me to get to know the local area, gave me a decent amount of exercise – a fair bit of uphill walking, and allowed me to discover and enjoy local green spaces. Sadly, Preston Park is no longer the lovely park it used to be. It has  been neglected for some years now with overgrown bowling greens and no flower beds remaining. I am happy to say that the rose garden and the rockery are still there.

I live in Mile Oak now and I am lucky enough to be able to walk out onto the South Downs from my house where there are wonderful views of the city, sea and countryside. It is only a couple of miles from Mile Oak to Devil’s Dyke. Many of my regular walks include a stop for tea and cake or ice cream at Mile Oak Farm, a welcome break, before I return home.

Julie, 2022

Fish Paste Sandwiches

My favourite walk from the Devils Dyke down to Fulking is full of memories. One is going from the Devils Dyke to Chanctonbury Ring with some done on the back of a pony. The walk to the Shepherd and Dog pub with my parents was a chance to run way way ahead of them and pretend I was on my own.

Everything was an adventure to me as a child: I imagined fairies hiding in the grass, made up stories in my head about children from a bygone age coming back to life and showing me the caves in which they lived (years later when I became a children’s author I never used that one but I’m sure that my imagination took root on the South Downs and by the sea in Sussex).

In my childhood days the Shepherd and Dog was a far more basic pub than it is today and I didn’t go inside.

My father would go in and bring me out a soft drink but never ever a bag of crisps as I remember.

All the food came from a picnic bag of enormous size. When going to the seaside this bag would contain fish paste sandwiches, Battenburg cake, a piece of fruit and a flask of tea. However when going on a Downland walk all I can remember are the scones and jam. Whether the Shepherd and Dog in those days served them or whether my mother pre-packed them I cannot remember. What I do remember is the climb back up the hill to the Devils Dyke Hotel which in those days again was much less fancy than it is today. I do remember my legs aching by the time we got home!

I do so wish the blackberry bushes on the road by Saddlescombe Farm were still there – indeed there may be a few left but the last time I went to inspect you couldn’t access that stretch of Downland because it was blocked off and somehow the bushes seemed so much smaller than they did in 1950!

Rosie, 2022