The Undercliff Walk technically runs from the west side of Brighton Marina all the way to Rottingdean and Saltdean, although sections may be closed from time to time when sections of cliff periodically become a little unsable and start "shedding" small lumps of flint or chalk.
The cliffs along the coast at and near Brighton are very vulnerable to erosion, and the primary purpose of the cliff walk, like Madeira Drive to the West, is to produce a stable protective base for the cliffs and keep crashing waves and water-flung pebbles as far back from the vulnerable "root" of the cliffs as possible. This helps protect the road and properties near the top of the cliffs, and the tunnel that now takes Brighton's waste water along to Peacehaven for processing. The westerly section of the Undercliff Walk is especially important as it helps to protect Brighton Marina from rockfalls.
Tourism and leisure
Since the coastal defence function of the walk involved bulding a wide, level slab of concrete whose topwas a little above sea level, with a perimeter wall to stop waves, its creation incidentally creates a nice wide walkway, and the leisure aspect of the walkway was one of the justifications for building it, as it creates a very nice pedestrian access, with cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, from Brighton all the way to Saltdean (closures permitting).
Because the walkway is so flat and so wide, it is also great for cycling and scooters, and the five mile route makes for an excellent ultra-flat scenic bicycle journey for those for whom a four or five mile walk is a little long. For those doing it on foot, Rottingdean and Saltdean have bus services to take you back to Brighton if you don't fancy the return journey. There's no actual cycle lane, but pedestrians have priority. In practice, most cyclists will not be using the route at speed, they'll be pootling along slowly and admiring the view.
Steps and cafes
After leaving the Marina, the Undercliff walk allows walkers to connect to the main cliff road at Ovingdeam Beach, Rottingdean Beach, and Saltdean Beach, with these three focal points being supported by Ovingdean Cafe, Molly's at the Beach, and the White Cliffs Cafe.
At certain points, the walkway has areas that look a little like raised flowerbeds, covered in rocks. These are "catch" areas, placed at the base of regions of cliff that currently seem to be shedding. Obviously, it's not a clever idea to walk on these raised areas, as you'd be making the decision to place yourself directly underneath the most dangerous sections of cliff, at the very positions where we know that rocks are landing!
A short initial section of walkway behind the ALDI supermarket has some additional fencing, which is a little ugly, but prevents falling rocks bouncing off the walkway and landing on ALDI's roof (which became a problem a few years ago). But this section is very short.
The main issue with the walkway is the unpredictability of closures (the section alongside the Marina is so prone to closures that it has gates). Although Brighton Council do have a status page for the walk, sections of the walkway are liable to closure without notice if a rockfall seems to be in progress, and while the page indicates broad status (if a section is closed for months on end) the page can't be guaranteed to completely reflect the current state.
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