Hundreds take part in Beachy Head Lighthouse Challenge

The rare tide which allowed the walk to take place, picture by Eddie Mitchell
The rare tide which allowed the walk to take place, picture by Eddie Mitchell

Hundreds of walkers took advantage of a rare opportunity to walk around the famous Beachy Head Lighthouse yesterday (July 3).

The walk, which saw around 900 people take part, is only possible when a low spring tide occurs at the right time and during daylight hours.

Walkers at the lighthouse SUS-160407-104124001

Walkers at the lighthouse SUS-160407-104124001

Organiser Rotarian Martin Wellings said: “It was an amazing afternoon and we were fortunate to have been blessed with fine weather.

“There was no doubt that people were enjoying themselves and it was quite a challenge getting everyone there and back by the time the tide was due to come back in.”

The walk was originally started in 2011 when Trinity House decided not to re-paint the famous Beachy Head Lighthouse and allow it to slowly fade to its original grey granite colour.

The reason was the stripes were no longer required to aid ships’ navigation.

A fundraising campaign was launched, including a feature on BBC1’s Countryfile programme, to raise £45,000.

Work on the painting finally began in September, 2013, after the target was reached.

Some of the money was raised by staging the walk from the foot of the Downs in Eastbourne to the lighthouse and back.

Such was the popularity of the Beachy Head Lighthouse Challenge that it has now become an annual event and this year’s walk was the fourth.

It is organised by Eastbourne AM Rotary Club and campaign group Save the Stripes.

“It is quite staggering to think how this walk has developed over the four years,” said Martin.

“From something quite small it has expanded greatly and next year we would love to hit the 1,000 mark – weather permitting of course.

“We were greatly supported by volunteers from St John Ambulance and Raynet, the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network. It was a memorable day.”

Walkers paid to take part and organisers hope they will exceed the £3,000 raised last year.

A third of the money raised goes into a fund to repaint the stripes again when needed in the future while the rest is donated to local charities by the Rotary Club.

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