Tuesday 16 August 2016
Eastbourne to Hastings
Hastings Touring Park
Another beautiful blue sky day dawned and I set off along the edge of the never-ending shingle. I passed Martello Tower after Martello Tower; some derelict, some reinvented and some quite neatly disguised within a newer building.
There was no specific coast path so sometimes I had to either trek along the shingle or head inland through housing estates in order to weave a route that followed the shoreline. It was not as easygoing as it looked on the map.
Pevensey Bay was the first settlement I passed; the traditional site of the landing of the Normans in 1066. My map told me this but there were no indicators on the ground.
I followed the train line past Norman’s Bay and on to Bexhill, “the birthplace of British motor racing”. In 1902 Earl De La Warr created the centre for British and International motor racing by holding the first race meeting in Bexhill. I walked up Galley Hill, a very small incline at the end of a long straight road, that must have provided quite a challenge to early motor cars.
There were plenty of references to its motor racing history in Bexhill, including a museum. However, those were the glory days of the past, when 30,000 spectators lined a 1km route, and now the town seemed more like ‘Suburbia-by-the-Sea’ to me.
I followed the new footpath across Glyne Gap and on to St Leonards-on-Sea, which seems to have been swallowed up by Hastings.
Approaching St Leonards it looked quite run down. There were a few hotels but they didn’t look much. The sea front was built on a wide undercliff, so there was an even taller cliff behind the tall buildings. It was a shame it looked so downtrodden up close.
Hastings looked equally deprived upon approach from the West. At the eastern end, sandwiched between West Hill and East Hill, was Old Town. This area looked vibrant and colourful, and full of history.
Stade beach was littered with fishing boats and their related paraphernalia. Immediately behind the shingle were long, tall, black wooden huts that were once fishermen’s net-drying huts. Many have now been converted into shops, restaurants and a fisherman’s museum, which I had a look around.
I discovered that Hasting’s Stade (the fishermen’s beach) is the largest beach with a moored fishing fleet in the UK.
The town itself seemed to squashed in between the 2 hills and had 2 cliff railways. I paid my fare to go up the East Hill Lift.
At the top of East Hill was Hastings Country Park, and my campsite destination. It was expensive at £22, but I had to get used to that in the South East.
I was tired and so, after my chores, I headed to the on-site clubhouse for some dinner. I couldn’t face a long walk down (and back up) the hill into town.