Summer walks: The new battle of Hastings

Posted on June 30, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


The historical town of Hastings and its rather quiet seaside fairground


I visited Hastings about 10 years ago to see the the historical site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. This time, I joined a walking group and visited the town for the first time. Like many other British seaside towns, the glory days of Hastings was long gone. Despite being awarded an £8.5 million grant from the government last year as part of the regeneration scheme to help and revive Britain's coastal towns, the outcome is yet to be seen.

Personally I have some nostalgic memories of British coastal towns because I spent two years of my early teenage years studying and living in a remote and gloomy coastal retirement town in Somerset. I didn't like it at the time, but I have vivid memories of skiving off Sunday church services and hiding near the seafront with my friends on many windy days. I have never been back since but many images and impressions stayed with me until today.


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Main: Butlers' Famed Emporium opened in 1888, is now a shop that sells vintage and collectible items for the home


In Hastings, our walk was mainly within The Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, and it was a wonderful one, covering woodland, heathland, grassland and 3 miles ( 5km) of dramatic cliffs and coastline. It was not an easy hike as there were many slopes to climb, but with the sun finally shining in the afternoon, the effort seemed worth it.




As much as I enjoyed the walk esp. along the coast, I was bothered by what I saw while walking through the town centre and along the seafront. First of all, hardly anyone was at the seafront on a mild Saturday morning seemed rather odd to me, then later while walking back towards the station, we saw rows of emptied shops facing the seafront accompanied by many homeless people sleeping outside. My walking companions and I were shocked by what we saw, and suddenly I thought of Mary Portas ( known also as the Queen of British high street) and her effort to revive the other run-down coastal town, Margate. I started to wonder how many Mary Portas are needed to revive all these towns?




It does make me feel slightly sad to see an interesting and historical town such as Hastings in such a run-down state, why isn't it bustling like Brighton or even Portsmouth? But most importantly, why are people staying away from these seaside towns even though many of them are within two hours' train ride from London? Being the most deprived area in the South East region, is the government's funding for regeneration really going to boost the local economy and help the poverty-stricken? There are so many questions but few answers... Only time will tell.


This post was posted in Nature, Hiking & walking and was tagged with hiking, nature