Having had several friends publish books, I’ve often suffered a problem: as delighted as you are to own their book, you don’t find the time to read it. Such books sit reproachfully on a shelf, until you can no longer bear to see the friend again, and have to pretend you’re dead whenever they call.
Cheeky Walks in Brighton and Sussex was one of these books, co-written by my pal David Bramwell. I followed a couple of the walks soon after it’s publication in 2012, then set the book aside. I meant to get back to it and never did.
Many people have written guidebooks to Brighton, but the most appropriate to the town’s spirit were the five editions of the Cheeky Guide. Amongst the usual facts, these books included outrageous lies – the legs at the Duke of York’s do not do a can-can at midday on Sunday, for a start.
According to Argus journalist and competitive eater, Adam Trimingham, the guides “should be taken, like sherry or many soft drugs, in small doses or preferably not at all”. The Cheeky Walks book has the same mischievous humour, which some people will love and others hate.
My friend Sooxanne suggested doing one of the walks on New Years Day rather than sitting around hungover. We chose ‘Brighton’s Back Passages’, a tour of alleys and twittens. I found passageways I’d missed on routes I used to take everyday.
Eating Sunday lunch afterwards, I decided that 2015 would be the year I finished this book. It’s April and I’ve now done 7 of the 21 walks, which makes it my most successful resolution ever.
Organising Sunday walks has been great fun. Sometimes there have just been two of us, other times a whole pack. I’ve made new friends, caught up with some old ones, and heard some fantastic stories.
Despite living in Brighton for 20 years, the book has introduced me to areas I never knew about, from the cemeteries at the top of Bear Road, to wild spaces, like Ladies Mile Nature Reserve. Sunday Lunch also tastes much more delicious when you’ve been walking.
(We could have kept to a better budget by making our own sandwiches, but that’s a little too close to being a rambler).
The remaining walks include places such as Rodmell, the abandoned village of Tide Mills and an attempt to make Newhaven exciting. There is a moonlit walk, which will take more effort to fit in. The book will also take me to Arundel for the first time in thirty years, for the 8½ mile ‘Perfect Walk’.
Sunday walks are the perfect budget activity to conclude the week. No admission fees, no registration. What’s more, arranging a walk means you can’t stay out drinking late the night before – saving even more money. I’m having so much fun that I’m wondering what I will do when I’ve finished this book.
I may even have to admit it: in my late thirties, I’m taking up hiking.
Check out this nifty piece for more ideas of free things to do in and around Brighton.