Eastbourne Walk: Sovereign Harbour to Holywell

Explore Sovereign Harbour

One of the delights of Eastbourne is the multitude of superb walks in the area. This level Eastbourne walk from Sovereign Harbour to Holywell along Eastbourne promenade past the iconic Eastbourne Pier is approximately 4 miles (one way) and takes less than 3 hours. There are plenty of places for refreshments and loo breaks! En route, there are many attractions to explore so you might need to allow a longer time for detours.

There is free parking at Sovereign Harbour so that is a good place to park. Perhaps fuel up with a breakfast or brunch on the Waterfront. The Harvester has a special on breakfasts for those with large appetites! Other cafes are available for lighter bites or coffees!

Highlights of the Walk – Video

eastbourne walkEastbourne Walk Details

To start the walk aim for the Lock gates – just a short stroll from the Waterfront. If you want to explore the various marinas there is a boat trip (Easter / Summer only) around the complex with a detailed commentary – lasts less than an hour. The boat trip starts just below Pablos Restaurant. For the more adventurous, there are Powerboat Adventures: on  Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (R.H.I.B.) for an exhilarating voyage around Eastbourne Bay. Sussex Voyages provide a variety of trips.

The walk starts at the Seafront Journey Planner board just on the west side of the Lock gates. We are doing this journey in reverse! So you will discover more boards on your walk! The walk starts by walking towards the Martello tower on the point.

Martello Towers – there are a chain of defensive towers built along the South and East coasts of England at that time, in response to the very real threat of invasion by the French, led by the Emperor Napoleon. There are several Martello towers in the Eastbourne area. Ii fact, there is another on the walk – the Wish Tower (see later).

Walk across some waste ground – this site is due for re-development with apartments with sea views! In the distance you will sea the Water Treatment Plant. At the roundabout you will find the stop for the Ditto Trains – you can get the train back from Holywell if a return walk is too far. Incidentally, you can cycle on the Promenade from here to the Fisherman’s Green Tennis Courts; after that you have to take your chances on the sea-front road. Although there are proposals to extend the cycle path.

eastbourne waste water treatment works
Next stop on the walk is the Eastbourne Wastewater Treatment Works. Every day the works treats up to 86 million litres of wastewater from about 140,000 people in the area.They are investing almost £6 million to upgrade the treatment processes and make other improvements at the works. Looking seawards, there are panoramic views from the South Downs across the bay towards Bexhill and Hastings. Continue walking west on the promenade and you pass the Sovereign SkatePark – it features a mini ramp, flat banks, quarter pipes, a jump box, spine, fun box, driveway and rails & ledges, and the rear of the Sovereign Centre: There are a wide range of facilities and activities available to suite all ages and abilities. They include a splash in the fun pool with waves and flume, swim in the 25 metre gala pool, workout in the gym, take part in a workout class, relax in the health suite or enjoy the cafe.

Further on the activities continue at Buzz, and the Eastbourne Parade Bowls Club.  Why not rest your feet and watch some bowls!  The Buzz centre offers courses and tuition in sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, powerboating, raft building and standup paddleboarding (SUP). Opposite in Princes Park, with its large, shallow lake beginners can get started. Useful too when the weather’s a bit rough.

playground at princes park eastbourne

Princes Park also has a good kid’s playground, and plenty of green space for picnics and relaxing in the sun. On the Promenade in an elevated position is the Beach Deck – this restaurant has a growing reputation and is worth a visit. Further on pass the Natural Fitness Fitness Centre with its ideal position overlooking the sea and Pier. Another Detour / short break avails itself at the Redoubt Fortress & Military Museummore details here. Perhaps you need to re-fuel as you approach the Pier: the Pavilion or my favourite a delicious ice-cream at Fusciardi’s ideally located across the road adjacent to the Promenade.

iconic eastbourne pier

The iconic Eastbourne Pier is now in full view, and beginning to look splendid after the fire in 2014. This is well worth a detour with a walk to the end of the pier and perhaps an afternoon tea in the Victorian Tea Rooms. There are splendid views of the seafront and the South Downs. By the pier there are buses for an open-top tour of Eastbourne or a ride up to Beachy Head or further destinations such as Brighton.

Carpet Gardens

carpet gardens eastbourneLocated by the pier these gardens are the world famous centrepiece of Eastbourne’s elegant seafront.  Traditional bedding is used to create stunning floral patterns for spring and summer.  Spring displays use brightly coloured tulips, pansies and wallflowers.  Summer planting includes begonias, petunias, geraniums and other favourites.

This area of the Promenade is often very busy from the buzz of the magnificent sea-front hotels, and proximity to the shopping precinct. Along the beach-front you can take a leisurely time-out at one of the beach cafes, and do some people watching or enjoy the sea-breezes and views.

eastbourne bandstand

You may even hear some music from the Bandstand further east along the Promenade. Eastbourne is proud of its well preserved 1930’s bandstand. Here you can enjoy a variety of concerts from Tribute Bands and 1812 Firework Concerts to Military Bands. Full summer programme available here.

We are beginning to get to the last stage of our walk to Holywell. From the Promenade you will be able to spot the Wish Tower on the hill – another Martello Tower. The Wish Tower is one of 103 gun towers built on the south and east coasts of England to defend against a potential invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800s. It was built when Eastbourne was four or five small settlements and, along with the Redoubt Fortress about a mile to the east, is probably Eastbourne seafront’s oldest surviving resident.There were 74 Martello Towers built on the south coast between Folkestone and Seaford. If you look on their website you will see their programme of tours – well worth it! Behind the Wish Tower you find the Western View cafe with panoramic views and good grub!

cow bay in the distanceOn this last stretch to Holywell, you can enjoy lovely sea views towards Cows Bay. It is a popular part of the walk with joggers, and ramblers enjoying the sea breezes, and views. There are a range of beach chalets en route before reaching your destination at Holywell. Here you can enjoy a well-earned break at the Holywell Chalet Cafe. If you cannot bear the walk back catch the Ditto train back to Sovereign Harbour. If you have some energy walk up the steep incline and  discover the tranquil Italian Gardens. Further up you will be rewarded with some magnificent views.

View from above Holywell

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