There are three breaks in the cliff. The first is at Ovingdean Gap,
where there is a open air cafe and toilet facilities and a momumental
staircase to the top of the cliff - see below. The second is at the historic
village of Rottingdean, ruined by traffic but still worth a visit. And
further on at Saltdean, the eastern most suburb of Brighton.
Because the white chalk face reflects the sun and creates a glare, you
can easily do the walk without looking much at the cliff face itself.
If you do you'll miss the many birds that roost and nest in the crevices
of the chalk face.
People do the walk all year round. One of the best times to go is when
there is a strong onshore wind at high tide. Then the waves crash over
the wall sending spray high into the air. It is very dramatic.
But be sensible if there is a raging storm, it may be best to stay away.
The Structure of the Seawall
In the renovation of the wall between the Marina and Ovingdean
the city council estimated that the quanitities of materials used would
be: 19,000 cubic metres of concrete, 400 flint-faced concrete panels, 1,400
tons of reinforcing steel, 9,000 cubic metres of concrete removed from
the existing defences, crushed and re-used and 27,000 tons of granite boulders
imported by sea, probably from Norway.
The flint-faced panels make up the front of the seawall
facing the sea and taking the force of the waves. At the top is the wave
return parapet. This acts as a safety barrier for visitors but its defensive
function is to help channel the power of the waves back out to sea. Granite
boulders are piled at the base of the wall in places to absorb the power
of the waves and protect the wall itself from erosion. At the landward
side of the pedestrian promeneade is the rear splashwall built against
the base of the cliff to protect it from waves that overtop the seawall
during storms. Those waves also carry shingle where there are beaches.
Shingle Beach or Concrete Groynes
Defence arrangements vary along the length of the Undercliff Walk depending
on the assessed danger in each section. Where there are shingle beaches,
which help protect the wall by absorbing some of the power of the waves,
groynes are used in order to preserve the beaches. In other sections where
the build up of shingle is sparse, more 'hard' protection in the form of
granite boulders is necessary.
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