Saturday 11th October 2014
What should we do to celebrate the Battle of Hastings Anniversary?
Over the past two years, the History Walkers had walked from Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Sedlescombe (1066 Harold’s Way Walk 10) and Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Cripps Corner (1066 Harold’s Way Walk 10a) and it was time for a change. I could not ask the group to walk that big muddy ploughed field up to Colliers Green again especially with the amount of rain that we had had during the week leading up to Saturday 11th October.
A Battle Circular would do the trick but with the BBC Weather forecast promising rain and lightning we did not want to be too far away from a safe haven despite in previous years battling through rain, hail, sleet and snow.
A figure of eight incorporating two circular walks, long walk in the morning and a shorter walk in the afternoon with the opportunity for a pub lunch in between would be perfect and met with much approval. Awesome was one comment but I think that that was at the prospect of a pub lunch.
I wanted to incorporate Malfosse, Caldbec Hill, Telham Hill and Senlac that were all truly relevant to the Battle and explore the rather undulating countryside around Battle. It was to be our own re-enactment away from the battle crowds.
History Walkers Hannah, Gemma, Louise, Mark, Lynn, Jim and Sharon and Daphne and Carole from the Northiam Footpath Group started from the Battle Abbey Gatehouse a little later than anticipated. The train from London was delayed at Wadhurst for a few minutes, a landslide?, and one walker needed a bacon sandwich before she would put one foot in front of the other, I will not mention her name but a 30 minute wait for a bacon sandwich Louise.
Meanwhile Daphne kept her dog Shadow occupied before the off along the back lane towards Chain Lane, Pathway Cottage and the Malfosse, the first of the Battle of Hastings references. The countryside continues to have that ‘wow’ factor which hides the fact of hills to come and despite one brief shower, the paths remained reasonably firm and any mud cleaned from our boots by the long grass.
Back to Battle via Wood’s Place and 1066 Harold’s Way, close to the old trackway that led Harold’s soldiers to Caldbec Hill and the ‘old hoar apple tree’ which was the meeting place the day before the Battle of Hastings.
The King’s Head did us proud for lunch with a table laid for the ten of us, walker and dog friendly and casks of Black Sheep, from the barrel on the bar, to satisfy out thirst. We could have stayed longer but with the climb up to Telham Hill scheduled for the afternoon’s walk we bravely faced down temptation and left.
This shorter afternoon walk would be to the south, towards William’s camp on Telham Hill then back across the fields to Senlac Meadow where William’s army assembled to attack the ridge and Harold.
The mile long climb was walked at a steady pace with the knowledge that it would be all downhill after that to The Chequers and our final stop, overlooking The Time Team’s ‘magic roundabout’ where 10000 armed men fought a battle – I don’t think so!
Still we had time to discuss the finer points of the walk and of the Battle of Hastings over a pint or two in the newly re-furbished Chequers again walker friendly but not quite so dog proof.
It was a good days walking, the weather held bright and sunny and even warm at times and the group were rewarded for their efforts with ‘stickers’ and a copy of 1066 Harold’s Way, Battle Anniversary Walks.
These two walks will be part of a series of circular walks that will highlight some of the important events of the 1066 campaign around what was then the Hastings peninsular, further details to follow in 2015.