A ninety minute circular walk starting from the Gladstone pub on the Gyratory, about 5km. Beware – you may need to slide under a gate in the cemetery north of Bear Road, but its a big gap (G on the map).
Walk up the Woodvale entrance road to just past the offices where you ascend the steps on the left to enter the Extra-mural cemetery through a gate in the wall. The Council have recently been mowing paths to increase accessibility, so seek the one which is about 45 degrees north of the route parallel to the east-west wall, and go down, being careful not to slip on wet grass or, worse, mossy horizontal gravestones. At the bottom you will be on a rough road, follow it ever eastward looking for what I call Monument Valley MV on the map, I did toy with Death Valley but it seemed a little direct).
As you look east there is a delightful grassy South facing slope often full of flowers.
A path runs eastwards at its base – take it to the end of the extra-mural. You enter Woodvale through a wide hole in the North-South wall.
Take the sometimes slippery path diagonally up to your left. This will lead you to the best place to enjoy the sun, and there is a bench or two as well. Moving ever east your way will be blocked by rose beds, but there are gaps at the left end, around a bench and onto the grassy surrounds of a mausoleum once dedicated to The Marquess of Bristol (who lived part-time in Sussex Square from 1828 until his death in 1859). He did occupy his mausoleum for a few years until his family took his remains to the family estate in Suffolk. It was he who gave the land for Woodvale cemetery to the town in 1857.
Continue east, either along the drive, or across the grass and pass north and east of the memorial areas under the trees, until you reach the gate where the road leaves the cemetery. Take care crossing the road and enter the somewhat bleaker City Cemetery and make your way to the NW corner where you will find a row of war gravestones marking burials of WW1 German soldiers who died of flu whilst prisoners of war in Brighton. Elsewhere in this cemetery there are many war graves, but presumably it was deemed better to bury the enemy away from the ‘our boys’.
One German was carrying his photograph when captured, and here it is;
You could consider going over the wall to access the lane if you don’t want to go under the gate further east (G on the map) – but the gate might be open if the maintenance team are around. If you decide to try the gate then head south and east around the house and the adjacent Jewish cemetery. (Sometimes there are unrepaired holes in the fence which give access to the Jewish cemetery where this walk goes soon.) I suggest walking to the very NE corner to gain a view over the flint wall and across the Lewes Rd valley to the wood south of Wildpark. This corner has been used to store the XS spoil that accumulates when digging and filling graves so a higher viewing point is often available.
Make your way to the gate and pass through/under. You are now in the Jewish cemetery, where graves are placed much closer together. The track leads past a monument to remember the dead of the Holocaust (H on the map).
Leave the cemetery and look across the road, you will find a sign for a footpath passing behind the houses opposite and heading east again. Take it, after a while it opens out onto a grassy space and you will find a track crossing the grass and plunging into the wood, down a steep slope. You need to go down and then west along the woodland strip, passing entrances to a big badger sett (BS on the map).
and a rather interesting tree that has swallowed a steel handrail
Eventually you will encounter a flight of steps, go up them to the road and go south to find Bevendean Road, head south towards Bear Road. You will pass a lot of newish houses on the right all exhibiting external cladding to protect thick layers of insulation, hopefully making these easy to heat homes.
On the left you will pass all that remains of the old Infectious Diseases hospital (IH on the map) – just the gates and one gatehouse. It was in this hospital that the Brighton victims of the last outbreak of smallpox in Britain either recovered or died in 1950.
Continue to Bear Road and re-enter the cemetery by a pedestrian gate just a few yards up to your left. Turn right and follow the grassy track downhill staying a few yards from the boundary wall. You will pass a rather delightful carved gravestone in the form of a Celtic cross
As the trees approach the wall seek a path through them to the south. With luck and perseverance you will find a huge granite monument to the man who was in charge of building the London to Brighton railway, and the slightly later London Road viaduct, John Urpeth Rastrick (R on the map).
The monument is said to be in the form of a railway turntable, its certainly as wide as one, but rather higher. Keep heading south to an east-west road with some interesting monuments on the north side, and some catacombs behind them. Take the road west (downhill) and you will soon pass the chapel attributed to Amon Henry Wilds, but as he never designed another building in the Gothic style perhaps not his? You can exit the Extra Mural down this same road, coming out past our Mortuary and passing between two blocks of student housing onto the gyratory. Good beer available at the Gladstone.