Day 013: Littlestone-on-Sea to Fairlight
Distance: 24.90 miles
Ascent: 621 feet
Accommodation: Wild camp Fairlight
I probably had the comfiest night yet in the tent, in the dunes. But as I fell asleep not long after 8pm, I was up around 5am. I sorted my stuff out and was on the road about 6.10am. The first part of the day followed the only road to Dungeness, which made for quick progress and the streetlamps though far apart meant I didn’t have to use my headtorch. I passed the coastal villages of Greatstone-on-Sea & Lydd-on-Sea which skirt the miles of shingle, beach before getting to Dungeness.
Dungeness is the first place I have been on the walk since London that I have been to before, though only a couple of times. I absolutely love Dungeness, but it is hard to explain why. It feels so isolated, so desolate, almost like you are at the end of the earth. The few cottages are randomly dotted around the shingle, and all with quaint designs, there are even some modern ones so there must be an allure for others as well. And all the above dominated by the massive Dungeness Power Station. Dungeness shouldn’t be beautiful, but for some reason I love it.
After Dungeness I followed the shingle beach to the edge of Lydd Military Firing Range. When I had looked up last night online whether it would be active it said possible firing. So annoyingly I had assumed I would have to divert inland. But on arrival there was no red flag up, and to make sure I tried ringing the range manager on the number given but there was no answer. As there was no red flag I preceded, though felt a little wary, but all turned out fine. The route though was shingle beach all the way, made even worse by the fact that excavators had been pushing shingle at right angles to the beach to build defences which made nice 1ft ruts that I had to clamber over. Essentially it was shingle beach for 10km and completely wore me out. As soon as I left the military base and was onto a concrete promenade I sat down for a break on a very scenic set of stairs.
After all the solitude of the first 10 miles or so, it came as a shock to hit Camber Sands. There were hundreds of people and equally as many dogs. The beach and dunes at Camber Sands are beautiful but far to popular/touristy for my liking. I also must have had something in my backpack that dogs wanted, because 3 times by separate dogs I was almost knocked over unexpectedly as the dogs launched at my backpack from behind.
I headed inland at the River Rother, skirting the side of Rye Golf Course on a permissive path. I came across some people doing a litter pick on the embankment and stupidly offered to carry some of their litter as I was heading that way anyway. So, I was loaded up with timber and carried it the 800m or so to the dump site. I regretted offering that help!
I reached Rye which is a very picturesque town with some stunning buildings, including a lovely church. It sits atop a little hill, so some more of my favourite steps were in order. Unbelievably Rye doesn’t have a proper food shop (or that was what I was told), so ate lunch in a little café.
You may wonder why I didn’t stop in Rye as it was the location for my rest day. Well I had trouble getting any affordable accommodation (annoyingly a generous offer did come but I was already 6 miles past and in my tent by that time) and there were no campsites open, so pushed my rest day back one day to Eastbourne where I have a kind offer of accommodation.
So to make sure tomorrows day isn’t to long, I carried on from Rye crossing over the River Rother, before following it back to the coast. The path from there was very flat and straight all the way through Winchelsea to Cliffs End. Just after Cliffs End I found a pitch to spot.
So today was a successful though tiring day. It wasn’t forecast but it was sunny all day, which makes everything seem easier.
Looking forward to 4 nights in a row without having to pitch a tent from tomorrow!