Day 014: Fairlight to Eastbourne
Distance: 22.70 miles
Ascent: 1597 feet
Weather: Heavy showers, Strong Winds, Some Hail
Accommodation: The Davis Family Home
I was woken early as the tent flexed under the very strong winds. I as always had tightened all the guy ropes and pitched behind something to reduce the impact of any wind, but this time the wind was just really strong. The tent was strong enough to take it but it was hard to sleep through it with the tent flexing.
The real issues began in the morning when the wind was howling, the rain was lashing down and it was still dark as I tried to take the tent down. A single wrong move and any part of the tent would have flown in seconds several hundred meters across the field and straight into barbed wire. I just about managed to stuff in the sack, and knew it would be soaking but would have a chance to dry it in the evening.
The first part of my route took me through Fairview, and then out the other side on the Saxon Shore Way, and into Hastings Country Park. This was very exposed up on the cliffs and with the winds it was tough going. It was also still dark and there were loads of paths turning of everywhere, but fortunately I navigated the first part OK, until I came to a ‘Coast Path Closed due to Landslide’ sign. They had helpfully put in a diversion and told you to follow the yellow arrows, these were great to start with (though very steep and lots of stairs) but then suddenly stopped. Fortunately I bumped into a dog walker just as it was getting light who explained the best/safest route to take and 20 minutes later I was in Old Town Hastings. I think this part would have been beautiful without the rain, wind and light level.
I was tired from the wind, rain and steps so decided to take a slightly extended break in Hastings and the only place I could find open was a pub. They let me in, in my bedraggled state and whilst waiting for my breakfast I managed to post my previous days diary which I had been thwarted by the day before, as well as charging up my phone.
The next stage from Hastings to Cooden was a war of attrition, as I was completely exposed on the promenade. With the strong wind hitting me directly in the face it required a lot of effort just to keep pushing on forward, and at points it became almost impossible to keep my waterproof cover on my rucksack as the wind seeked to turn it into a balloon. I would like to describe the scenery/architecture for this part but in general my head was down, facing the ground just pushing on. The low point had to be being whacked in the face by a palm tree (or whatever those trees are that south coast towns have) under a massive gust.
From Cooden the wind lightened a bit, as did the rain, though still not brilliant and I followed the lane through Normans Bay and Pevensey Bay. After Pevensey Bay I walked along the shingle beach passed the sailing club I used to use occasionally, and finally got to Sovereign Harbour which has had a massive influx of new housing since I was last there.
From the harbour I soon reached Eastbourne. This is where I went to school, and lived for 5 years so it was strange being back. Not a lot seemed to have changed, the pier, bandstand, amusements all seemed the same. After the day I had had it was great to reach the house of an old school friend, whose family (The Davis’s) had kindly offered to put me up for my rest day. It was great to see them, have a bath, a nice cooked meal, and knowing I would have a bed for the two nights.
Today was one of those days that felt like a means to an end, rather than an enjoyable walk due to the weather. I am sure there will be other days like this but the good days will far outweigh these.
A slight annoyance is that I got something in my eye around lunchtime, and have still yet to get it out. This is extremely aggravating but hopefully will find it’s way out tonight.
NB - I only had a short period today when the weather was decent enough that I could take any picture with my phone (my camera was waterproofed in my rucksack), so only 5 not great pictures today.