Brighton Beach UK


"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."
~~Jawaharal Nehru ~~

Following a very relaxing transatlantic voyage on the Celebrity Eclipse that took us from Fort Lauderdale via Nassau, San Juan and St. Maarten to Southampton, we were looking forward to the next leg of our journey which would prolong our vacation, if only for two days. Sometimes the fun way to explore a new destination is to have no plans at all (exception: accommodations) and although we knew we wanted to visit London on our short stopover, we were open and flexible with our first day on dry land.

Bob had reserved lodgings in Crawley, near Gatwick Airport, which ended up being nicely centered to our visit to London by train; and, as it turned out, our afternoon trip to Brighton. We had dropped off Marie's power wheelchair at Gatwick's "Left Luggage" along with our large suitcases. The next two days we were to live out of overnight bags, a power scooter, and a manual wheelchair.

Travelling within any country but your own can be a bit daunting, to say the least. The benefit to being in England was the fact that at least the language was not going to be a barrier should we have encountered any problems with Bob's scooter or Marie's wheelchair.

Being in a new country does not usually faze me, and I did feel comfortable being able to communicate when asking directions or buying tickets for our train trip to Brighton.

The staff at the train station was very accommodating and we even learned that you qualify for a great discount when travelling in groups. I think the return trip from Crawley to Brighton was approximately 6 for all three of us.
Three Bridges Station - Crawley UK

The train system in England is tremendously well organized and pretty easy to understand, even for tourists. When travelling with a wheelchair or other mobility device, you are encouraged to call the train station ahead of time to let them know when and where you will be going so they will be able to provide you with timely assistance. Despite not having known this, we did not encounter any delays in our travel plans.

As the train was coming into the station, a staff member would already be prepared to put up a ramp to a specially marked door on the train. Once we were safely aboard, the station master radioed ahead to our destination. Upon arrival, another staff member was already waiting for us with a ramp to get us off the train.

There are designated areas for wheelchair and special needs passengers close to the door and close to the onboard washroom.

Brighton's close proximity to London (about 50 minutes by train) makes it a popular day trip spot and this further adds to the station's bustling nature. It is constantly buzzing with activity of the local people, of families coming to spend a picnic on a nearby beach, and, of course, tourists.

And yet, even with the hordes of people coming and going, it has its charms such as the old Victorian clock (I believe it is an original) and many shoppes which only enhance the quaintness of this railway station. Add to that the fact that it is almost two hundred years old and it becomes awe inspiring.
Brighton Train Station

Once out of the station, there really is only one direction to go.. towards the water. Brighton's sidewalks, being true to their English roots, are either cobblestone or paver stones. This makes it a little challenging for the manual wheelchair user because you want to make sure your front wheels do not get caught in any cracks. And regardless of your mode of transportation, whether it is a wheelchair or a scooter, be prepared for a bumpy (and downhill) ride almost all the way to the sea. Once at the beach, it is pretty smooth going since most of the walkways are paved with asphalt.

Bright Beach & Pier
Brighton was, at one time in history, considered a seaside resort town. I would like to stress that to most of us a sea resort includes a sandy beach only has when the tide is out.. most of the time it is just pebbles. Yet, many people will settle in on the rocky beach with their friends and families as if it was sand.

Regardless, whether it is sand or stone, neither is conducive to wheelchairs. However, the "boardwalk" (paved) stretches the length of the beach and there are several ramps which lead back up to street level so you don't have to return to the original starting point when enjoying your walk.

You can't help but notice and be drawn to the Golden Gallopers carousel a whimsical touch of history that attracts children and adults alike. The Brighton Pier provides not only a beautiful view of the Brighton coastline, but also is home to a pinball alley (and other games), a ferris wheel and several rides for the young and the young at heart.

Close by is the Brighton Aquarium, which was built in 1870. It, like the historical seaside hotels, adds a stamp of architectural beauty not to mention that it is the oldest working aquarium in the world.
Golden Gallopers Carousel

We spent a beautiful afternoon exploring little shops along the beach, tasted English fish and chips and promised ourselves that we would not leave Brighton without buying some of its famous rock candy. Although we forgot to buy the candy, we did make lots of memories and visited a charming seaside town that we would not hesitate to return to.

Wherever your travels take you, go with an adventurous spirit, regardless of your mode of mobility. See the sights, taste the local fare, and be a 'sponge' for new experiences.

Barb Salivar
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