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Visiting — formerly — the West Pier at Newhaven, England: dodging the bracing wind and waves (and, now, lawyers?)

Updated on January 31, 2013
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Newhaven Harbour
Newhaven Harbour | Source
West Pier and Lighthouse, Newhaven
West Pier and Lighthouse, Newhaven | Source
Map location of East Sussex, England
Map location of East Sussex, England | Source

The former, exhilerating fun of avoiding the waves

Canadians have good reason to remember Newhaven, East Sussex, as the English port from which Lord Louis Mountbatten's ill-fated Dieppe Raid was launched in 1942.

At Newhaven, a Channel ferry port, the West Pier is a long structure which extends far out into the English Channel, into which the light from a lighthouse at the end of the West Pier shines, guiding the ferry and commercial traffic which comes regularly to the town.

I recall it being the height of healthy fun, alternatively running along the West Pier, and taking shelter in its many alcoves, as rough sea waves crashed up the sides of the structure. The combination of the wind and the waves made for a truly memorable visit.

However, one learns that local administrators have now closed the West Pier to visitors, citing health and safety issues. My musing is that there must be reason why administrators and local politicians do things, although these can sometimes be truly infuriating, at times. One hopes that this measure is not merely about members of the excellent legal profession trying to over-sanitize people's lives; many Canadians — citizens of the True North Strong and Free — have to negotiate habitually weather and wind conditions far more severe than anything with which this structure on the English Channel has to contend (1).

But let's just give the good politicians and administrators of Newhaven the benefit of the doubt. (For now...) In any case, Newhaven is hardly the Ultima Thule of climatic exotica.

January 31, 2013

Also worth seeing

In Newhaven itself, the Canadian Memorial in the Downtown area, and Newhaven Fort are visitor attractions.

Birling Gap, Seaford (distance: approx. 8 kilometres); the Seven Sisters cliffs are spectacular.

The Royal Pavilion at Brighton (distance: 16 kilometres) has long been a major visitor attraction.


(1) For visitors to England, life in this country which many Canadians love, with all its quaint and sometimes infuriating ways, at times never ceases to astound. If weather conditions in the fall affect rail travel, the railroad company in question may get away with a statement to the effect that on the line there have been 'the wrong sort of leaves'. As for that — for Canadians — quintessentially basic element: snow: administrators unable to cope with it have been on record as having claimed their incapacity was because of 'the wrong sort of snow'. Local authorities in England have even been known to advise householders NOT to clear their paths of snow (you, see, it's the responsibility of someone else, supposedly, and lawyers' liability considerations would make it inconvenient for someone other than the people hired to clear snow to hurt themselves...) Go tell it in winter in Ottawa ...! ('The wrong sort of lawyers'?)


How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Newhaven : 128 kilometres.) For access by road, take M23/A23/A27/A26. There are rail links to Newhaven Town and Newhaven Harbour from London Victoria railroad station. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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