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Saturday 26th June 2010
2 walks
1: West St Leonards to Rock-A-Noor
2: Cooden Beach to Bexhill


 Saturday 26th June was a hot dry day with temperatures around 29 C in London, and a couple of degrees cooler around the coast. Inland it was a bit cloudy, but on the coast the sky was almost pure blue with just a bit of light mistyness towards the horizon.

 I decided to plug a few gaps in my long term aspiration to walk most of the south east coast by walking east from West St leonards as far as the Rock A Noor, just beyond Hastings, where the cliffs plunge into the sea and make the shoreline effectively innaccesible. Then from there back to Hastings station. I seriously underestimated the length of this walk which turned out in actuality to be exactly 5 miles.

 From Hastings station I caught a west bound train to Cooden Beach station where I walked the 2.9 miles back to Bexhill station. The first mile of that walk was over loose shingle or very uneven pebbles, and that made the walk quite hard work. It's hard to be objective about these things, but I estimate that the effort to walk that first mile might have been the equivalent of 2 miles on firm and level ground. By the time I reached Bexhill my feet and legs were definitely feeling the strain, and yet after a short sit down on the train I found I recovered quite quickly, and when I changed trains at St Leonards Warrior Square station I didn't feel so bad.

 I had to change trains again at Sevenoaks station. Coming out of a cool air conditioned train into the hot inland air made me appreciate just how hot the weather really was. After sitting on that train for about an hour my legs and ankles had become really stiff, and the first few steps were almost difficult. In the 25 minutes I had to wait for my final train back to Catford my legs and ankles really loosened up again, and apart from still feeling a little footsore I felt as if I could have walked several more miles once I was back in Catford.
tiered viaduct like cliff protection
One of the odd sights I saw when I started to walk towards Hasting from West St leonards was these arches. Looking like a tiered viaduct, they seem to be supporting the crumbling cliff face, and stopping the big building at the top of the cliff falling onto the buildings below.
Hastings Pier
I am not sure if I knew that Hastings had a pier, but I know now.
Unfortunately it is currently out of use, and a local trust has been set up to try and save it. Apparently it will cost 4m to either demolish it or refurbish it. There are all sorts of legal wrangles going on over it, but you can read more about these and the pier itself at their web site http://www.hpwrt.co.uk
danger of falling debris sign on Hastings pier
For now the pier is slowly decaying, and as these signs warn, bits are falling off it !
lifeboat on the beach at Hastings
At the start of the shingley beach of Hastings Old Town, near to all the fishing boats, I found the RNLB Sealink Endeavour. I don't know if this is the normal home of this lifeboat, or if it was there are part of some display.
lifeboat and Tractor at Hastings
The lifeboat is hauled across land by this very impressive looking tractor.
The cliffs plunge into the sea beyond Hastings Old Town
My walk eastwards came to an end when the beach ran out as the cliffs plunge almost directly into the sea.
Despite all the warning signs there were a lot of people in among all the fallen boulders, and people swimming in the sea. You can just make out the head of one such person as a grey blob about a quarter of the way from the left and bottom edges of the picture.
Maybe I have become more timid in old age, but it looked a bloody dangerous place to play. Many of those fallen boulders are twice the size of a man !
Two cars pass on the Hastings East Hill Lift
To get to the top of those cliffs there is an easy way and a hard way. The hard way is to walk up a long winding stairway. The easy way is to take the East Hill Lift.
This is an electrically powered funicular railway that goes up a really steep incline. The zoom lens used to take this picture of the two cars passing each other has foreshortened the view. From the bottom, to the eye, it looks like it climbs all the way to heaven ! It actually goes up 267 feet - according to wikipedia.
Hastings Miniature Railway - Rock A Noor station
There is yet another railway in Hastings - The 10.25 inch gauge Hastings Miniature Railway.
This is Rock-A-Noor station a petrol engined "steam engine" headed train about to depart.
miniature diesel loco on the Hastings Miniature Railway
Another item of rolling stock on view was this miniature diesel loco that may well be powered by a petrol engine as well.
Cooden Beach
There was not much to photo on my second walk. This is the very shingley, exhausting to walk on, beach at Cooden Beach.
About a mile away, beyond the range of this view, there is a paved walkway that made walking a lot easier.
If the tide had been lower is is likely that firm sand would be revealed, and that would have made walking so much easier.
Semaphore signal at Bexhill station
From Hastings to somewhere beyond Bexhill station, the railway uses a lot of traditional semaphore signals. I saw several, including one fairly rare yellow "distant" signal, from the train, but the only one I could get a good photograph of was this one at Bexhill station. Despite being mechanical signals they appear to be electrically operated because there was no sign of any rodding or cables. To my annoyance this signal seemed to be permanently "off". I would guess that it is only brought into service when traffic levels are high, perhaps during the rush hours. So I never got a photograph of it in the "on" position with the arm horizontal even after a train passed it.