Pett Level

Book 1 Walk 25 Rye to Hastings
Book 2 Walk 29 Hastings to Rye

Where the soft muddy cliffs beyond Hastings end, a long expanse of beach opens up, with the flatlands of Pett Level behind it. On a cloudy day, it can look windswept and bleak, but when the sun shines it is a rather exhilarating spot for a dip. The shingle shelves gently down to a flat muddy bottom, quite a lot of which is exposed at low tide. At such times you have to wade some way out to get a good depth for swimming, but on the other hand you can go right out in the bay and not be out of your depth.

  • Underwater rocks are a problem at mid to low tide at the eastern end of the beach, but exactly where this is tends to vary from season to season. The problem is not that the rocks are particularly large or even densely packed, but rather that the murky water makes them impossible to see till you trip over them: one moment you are on flat easy sand and the next you are stuck in the middle of a seamingly endless boulder field. If you encounter this problem, try going westwards for 100 metres or so to see if the beach is rock-free there.

  • The other benefit of low tide is that you can check out the remains of a flooded forest (the result of the rise in sea levels at the end of the last ice age), to be found on the flat part of the beach towards the cliffs. What look like recently washed-up logs and branches turn out on closer examination to be 10,000 year old tree trunks preserved in a semi-fossilised state.

  • Food and drink: The Smuggler Inn at the west end of the beach is a bit rough and ready, but provides all the refreshment options you might want. In summer there is a refreshment kiosk serving tea and cakes on the seaward side of it

  • Buses go hourly from Pett Level to Hastings or Rye

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