I am staying in Eastbourne and I take the local train to Hastings to continue my walk. After stopping for lunch (fish and chips, of course), I walk through Hastings towards the beach and emerge by the pier.
What a sad sight this pier is!
Burnt buildings, roofless wrecks, timbers showing, seagulls perching on shattered planking – a blackened and rusting structure. Warning signs advise people on the beach to stay away and not to walk beneath the pier, in case timbers fall on your head.
But attempts are being made to save it. Although the entrance to the pier is closed and barred, bunting hangs across the gate and signs proudly declare that the pier is loved and can be saved. I am not so sure.
Leaving the sad pier behind, I walk along the wide promenade, heading westwards. I sit in one of the shelters, in the shade, and have a drink. The sun is hot. I apply sun block before continuing.
A hundred yards further along, I stop to check my phone and realise it is not in my pocket. With a sinking feeling, I empty out my rucksack and search through the maps, tissues, plaster, drinks bottles and various spare bits of clothing I have crammed inside. No sign of my phone. I must have left it on the seat when I stopped in the shelter. Surely someone will have picked it up and taken it. Who could resist a free iPhone?
It is hard to run in walking boots, but run I do – back to the shelter. On the black painted seat is my black iPhone – barely visible, black on black. What a relief!
Leaving Hastings behind, I walk along a gravel path that runs along the side of the railway line, parallel to the beach and behind a jumble of huts, boats, fishing tackle, and sheds. I would prefer to walk on the beach itself, but the tide is in and there is no sand; I would be walking on rough shingle, too much like hard work, especially in this heat.
This track is not marked as a footpath on my map and I am not clear if I can make it from here to Bexhill without detouring inland. Knowing my route inland is barred by the railway line, I am hoping I don’t reach a dead-end. I don’t want to have to retrace my steps.
I reach an area called Glyne Gap on my map. The tide has retreated and I can walk across wet sands. There is a great view across to Hastings. I stop and take photographs. Unfortunately, I don’t manage a self-portrait – I fail to get to the right place in the 12 seconds I am allowed. So I end up with a number of photos of an empty beach.
Apart from a dog walker and a cyclist (who has wobbled his way across the beach), there is nobody close by.
Now a mass of rocks bars my way. The arrangement of the rocks doesn’t look natural. I guess they have been placed here to prevent erosion. I am forced to turn inland. Luckily, I find a path leading up from the beach to a hill (Galley Hill on my map, where I stop for a rest on a bench and admire some great view). Then I follow a path along a low cliff, heading towards Bexhill.
Here I come across a plaque commemorating the ‘First International Motor Race Meeting’, which took place in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1903. This quiet road must have been part of the race track.
I imagine a time, years ago, when racing cars were quieter, slower and you could race along a winding beach road. How exciting, and daring, such a race must have seemed.
The beach in Bexhill is a mix of sand and rocks – creating an exciting playground of rock pools and beach for children to play in. This is a great beach for families – and a nice change from the shingle beaches at Hastings.
I walk along the promenade, that narrows as I leave the busier part of Bexhill behind and I find I am walking alongside some very nice seaside properties. These houses have gardens that open directly onto the promenade.
I have a train to catch from one of the little stations that are dotted along the railway track. The station I am heading for is called Cooden Beach and, when I arrive, I find it is unmanned and deserted. I buy my ticket from a machine and walk up a long, covered slope to the platform. I find myself alone.
While I wait, a recorded message booms out over the announcement system. It tells me it is hot and I shouldn’t travel without a bottle of water – and then kindly informs me my train is about to arrive. I wonder where I should buy my water from, on this deserted station. And is it possible to buy water in the 30 seconds I am given between the announcement and the train arriving? For whose benefit is this announcement being made?
Later, I learn that trains broke down in North Kent earlier today. Passengers, overcome by the heat, forced their way out of hot railway carriages. The authorities shut off the power to the ‘live’ rail, causing further disruption. Sounds like a miserable time was had by many commuters trying to make their way home.
My train arrives on time. I am glad to rest my feet during the short journey back to Eastbourne.
miles walked = 8
blisters = 0
sunburn = 0
lost phone = 1, found phone = 1