We had been looking forward to this walk with happy expectation: it was to take us through Hastings Country Park. We had been told to expect a beautiful walk over tough, undulating, terrain. The weather today was perfect for such an excursion. For the first time in ages the sky was blue. Spring was in the air!
Before arriving at the country park we still had a couple of miles of flat beach to walk along. The sea was calm and lapped gently at the shingle of Winchelsea Beach.
For every step taken on a shingle beaches we tend to find we only actually take three-quarters of a normal pace. The shingle shifts underfoot, and the leg muscles seem to take the strain of the work. Not here! At the top of the beach the shingle gave way to sand, which had been compacted into a flat walking surface by some sort of bulldozer. It was not particularly attractive, but we were grateful for the easy walking.
Opposite us was Pett Level, an area of open marshland, bounded by ditches, with farm buildings and livestock dotted here and there.
The farmland soon gave way to the Colonel Body Memorial Lakes, named after Colonel John Body. He was a First World War officer who won the Distinguished Service Order. He commanded the battalion that was the first to enter and occupy Baghdad in 1917. He was awarded the OBE and was Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Kent.
As we approached the village of Cliff End we found the creator of our sandy highway – a giant bulldozer stood on the sea wall, awaiting its next trip to re-compact sand which had been loosened by the likes of us tramping all over it. We were to experience a few of these machines over our next few walks. Coastal erosion is clearly a problem here.
The cliffs of Fairlight Cove stood before us. It is possible to walk underneath the cliffs here, and look for fossils. Four thousand years ago the area used to be a forest of predominantly oak and hazel. If you know what you are looking for then you can find fossilised wood and even tree boles (the latter being rather difficult to pick up and take home). Neolithic tools have also been found here. The area is only accessible at low tide, however. For us, today, it was high tide.
Our path cut inland slightly, onto a road leading to the village of Cliff End. A Second World War battery observation post peered out of the cliffs above us. The battery had two 6-pound guns, although only one emplacement remains today. The observation post looks quite isolated, but in fact there are passages, storerooms and magazines below it, out of sight.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Winchelsea Beach: N 50° 54.580 E 000° 43.340
- Colonel Body Memorial Lakes: N 50° 54.060 E 000° 42.225
- Battery Observation Post: N 50° 53.535 E 000° 41.312
- The Track to the Cliffs: N 50° 53.320 E 000° 40.906
Walk #44 Statistics (of which this post forms the first part):
- Date of Walk: 9 February 2013
- Walk #44 total distance covered: 9.20 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 354.31 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!