Book 2 Walk 29 Hastings to Rye
A favourite of SWC founder Nicholas Albery, and popular with walkers ever since, Fairlight Glen is the one place where the crumbling cliffs between Hastings and Pett Level allow you to get down to the seashore. Your reward is a long curving pebble beach backed by high wooded cliffs that has a wild and secluded air unlike any in the south east. For this reason, it is also popular with naturists.
- The path down to the beach takes some finding. The turning off the coast path is in a wooded gully in the second major dip in the cliffs when coming from Hastings, at a point where the path crosses a stream. The path is no longer fenced off, but a sign warns you that you use it at your own risk. Use your own judgement here, as this is an unstable coast where landslips often happen, but the naturists that use this beach seem to keep this path in good repair.
- Watch out for underwater boulders. There is a band of them 30-40 metres wide right along the shoreline, but at high tide they are covered by a reasonable depth of water - at least in the centre of the beach (ie, just to the left when you get to the bottom of the path). For two to four hours before or after high tide the boulders are a real difficulty, however. If you can pick your way out beyond them (easy enough at low tide) the beach is sandy and swimming is easy.
- Food and drink: The nearest option is The Coastguards tea room (01424 812 902), open Wednesday to Sunday in the summer months. This is quite a walk, however: you have to climb back to the coast path, turn right, climb the next hill, cross the next major dip, and on the far side of it turn inland just beyond the radar station. In 300 metres or so, where the road curves left past an information hut, keep straight on up a blocked-off road towards the church, and the tea room is on the right.