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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Walk 85 Bexhill to Eastbourne

Walk 85    Bexhill to Eastbourne (East Sussex)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 199
Distance: about 12 miles or 18km.
Difficulty:  Easy – mostly flat
Terrain: footpaths, pavement and beach.
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Rail and bus links between the two towns.

Start at the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill. A mile or so to the west is Cooden Beach. You can get here by walking along the beach or by road. If the tide is in, clambering over the groynes can be tiring. Cooden has a long sandy foreshore and is popular with kite and windsurfers. Take care – they can get up a fair speed.

The walk to Norman’s Bay can be partly on the road but the remaining half mile needs to be on the beach. The shingles near the top of the beach are hard going so opt for sand near the shoreline if the tide is out far enough. Norman’s Bay is generally accepted as the place where William the Conqueror landed on 28 September 1066. King Harold was 250 miles away defeating a Norwegian invasion at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire at the time. When he heard this William is supposed to have fallen as he jumped ashore and said that he had seized the very soil of England. Which he had!

To the west of Norman’s Bay is a rather dilapidated Martello Tower – one of many such buildings on this coast. (Erected to defend the coast during the time of the Napoleonic Wars and based on a tower in Mortella, Corsica which the British forces found difficult to capture in 1794). 

The walk passes the private beach estate at Beachlands. Rightly or wrongly, I continued walking on the lower part of the beach near to the groynes without being shouted at. Soon after Beachlands is Pevensey Bay. This is now a pleasant small resort which originally provided a safe haven for the Norman fleet in 1066. William the Conqueror built Pevensey Castle and the ruins can still be seen. In the 18th and 19th centuries smuggling was rife as it was an easy  place to land contraband.

The walk continues along the beach and paths into Eastbourne. Further Martello Towers can be seen before arriving at Sovereign Harbour. This whole area has been redeveloped with housing and apartments which look out on a new harbour, it is expensive to live here but not very attractive in my view. Some map navigation is needed to walk inland and follow the cycle route towards Langney Point on the other side of the harbour.

Follow the promenade into Eastbourne. The Dotto Train runs along here – the only problem being it is not strictly a train (no railway) but a vehicle pulling carriages along a road.

On the walk into Eastbourne you can spot that the groynes have been numbered for easy location – a good idea for emergencies. Eastbourne has been a popular resort for many years mainly because of its sheltered position and sunny climate. Its population dipped during the Second World War when it was badly bombed. Nowadays, it retains its popularity as a quiet resort and many pensioners now live in or near the town.

Continue along to the pier along one of the promenades (they are at different levels). The pier is Victorian and is held up on cast iron legs. The walk finishes here.

Snaps show: Beachlands; a 'desirable property' near Norman's Bay; Sovereign Harbour; Martello Tower; Dotto Railway; Eastbourne Pier.

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