Saxon Shore Way: Hastings to Winchelsea

24 March 2012

After visiting a relative nearby, Lucy dropped George, Ellie and Stephen off in Hastings for a walk while she took Hetty and Lottie on to a rally trial in Bexhill. Today's choice for the walk could easily have been the South Downs Way, heading westwards, but Stephen prefers to walk eastwards so chose the Saxon Shore Way, which runs from Hastings to Gravesend, broadly following the line of the coast as it was about 1500 years ago.

Stephen had previously walked part of the Saxon Shore Way in 2009, when it was walked incidentally as it coincides with the North Downs way for about 23 km from Sandling to Dover.

Some of the fishing net sheds at Hastings, as I walk the dogs backwards and forwards along the busy pavement, looking for our escape from the crowds on the sea-front. With temperatures on this March day around 20 (and breaking records in Aberdeenshire), the summer feeling had arrived, and with it the people. We just wanted a bit of quiet and space.

We found it up the an alley which had quite a few stairs

The alley took us out onto a road by that lamp-post (also in the previous photo), from where more stairs took us further up the cliffs

The dogs pausing on the stairs, glad to be away from all those people

Finally we reach the top of the cliffs

The first half of today's walk was a typical southern England cliff-top walk, and good practice for my South West Coast Path walk in a couple of weeks.

And a typical cliff walk means a fair bit of down into valleys - and up again. The "up" path can just be seen on the far side

The dogs as we regain height

Gently heading down once more. It was a lovely warm day, perhaps a little too warm for walking, and a little hazy too, but still very pleasant.

After more up, it is time to do down again. George shows the way.

The start of the walk through the holiday village of Fairlight Cove

Almost finished with Fairlight Cove, and it is time to return to the cliff-tops

On the cliffs between Fairlight Cove and Cliff End. The latter is well named, and ahead is a lot of low-lying land.

Also at Cliff End is the start of the Royal Military Canal. Here the character of the walk changes completely, and we leave behind the cliffs and the modern coast, and turn inland, close to the ancient coast

The Royal Military Canal was built as part of measures against invasion by Napoleon, probably somewhat naively as it wouldn't have acted as a particularly formidable obstacle, but fortunately never had to be used as such. It was reinforced against Nazi invasion, but was never used then either.

As we head inland, on the right of picture is the modern sea wall, and the rest of the picture is part of Romney Marsh, about 100 square miles of reclaimed land, dotted with sheep.

We made very quick progress along the flat canalside path. Two swans are in the canal, the rest are in the crops, something I've not seen before and looking rather odd. As we neared Winchelsea, Lucy arrived in the car and walked back down the canalside with Hetty and Lottie to meet us.

Zoom in for more detail, or see map in larger window: Ordnance Survey | Open Street Map | Google Maps

Total distance 13.8 km and 387 metres of ascent in 3 hours 51 mins. A very pleasant walk of two contrasting natures.


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson