Hastings to Rye
It is surprising that one of the most picturesque routes in the South-East of England is not walked more often.
Perhaps it is the challenge of all the ups and downs of Hastings Country Park, following the Saxon Shore Way to Cliff End and beyond into Pett Level, or it may be that many of the walks end in Hastings rather than start there and reading walk instructions back to front is not easy.
‘Hastings and Rye’ just slips off the tongue, both Cinque Ports, both have a long history and both are linked together by a road, rail and public footpaths and, of course, there must be a walking guide that links the two. Surprisingly, this is hard to find and as a result, there is a need for a new short History Walk, ‘Walking Hastings to Rye’ and number 4 in the series.
One of the walks can be taken at a more leisurely pace that enjoys, or rather avoids the rather more extreme route of the coastal path to Fairlight and is a walk that can be enjoyed by people with at least a little country walking experience. The walk is split into three sections, handy for a Stagecoach bus back to Hastings and each with a pub at the end to celebrate the walk and a chance to explore Winchelsea, Camber Castle and Rye. Walk the next section another time after all 12 miles is still 12 miles whether you walk it all in one go or over a couple of days. Even the climb up to East Hill can be circumvented, for if the steps are too daunting you can always ride up in style on the East Hill Lift, I won’t tell if you don’t tell!
The second walk is a little bit more of a challenge, at least for the first part to Fairlight. This ‘undulating’ coastal route is just as demanding as parts of the Cornish Coastal Path and enough to set the pulse racing with steps fit for giants, steepish descents and over 1000 feet to climb and at the end, a quick jog down to The Cove at Fairlight for that well deserved pint with the bus stop on the road just outside to take you back to Hastings.
Either route will take you to Rye in a day with time to spare although I did leave the rest and recuperation until the end with sandwiches for a picnic on the beach at Cliffe End, about halfway. If you are travelling light, The Smugglers pub by the beach does food and from there it is almost flat all the way to Rye, unless you make the detour up the hill to Winchelsea to visit this historic town.
The guide book for this 12 mile History Walk will be available from Hastings Tourist Information early in the New Year (2016), price £2.50.