Friday February 16th 2007
Normans Bay to Bexhill-on-Sea
We had a leisurely start this morning with tea in bed followed by a full continental breakfast, finally checking out of the B & B at about 9.
We made our way slowly towards the station, looking at the shops and buying water along the way. At the station we realised we had just missed the hourly train to Norman’s Bay, where we would pick up the walk again. So we splashed out on a taxi, with a very obliging driver who took us along the coastal route so that we would be able to find our way back! It took us a while to make him understand that we wanted him to drive us from Bexhill to Norman’s Bay so that we could walk back again – for fun!
He dropped us at the station and we had a chat with the crossing man before we set off. He was very contented man, enjoying his retirement job, sitting in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, shutting the barriers several times an hour and reading in between! He said that he enjoyed peaceful days listening to the cricket in the summer too. We had a hilarious moment here when the announcement about not leaving bags or cases unattended anywhere on the station was played to an audience of nobody on a station with two wooden platforms in the middle of a field!
Finally we left the crossing man and walked the 100 yards to the beach to start walking along the shingle. It was quite hard going in places but at the top of the beach it was fairly well packed down so progress was good.
We passed the caravan park and some houses and soon emerged onto a completely empty stretch of beach with fields behind and the sea in front and just the railway line running beside us behind its high wire fence. It was lovely with the strong wind whipping up the waves and we felt as though we were miles from anywhere.
After a while we came to a road which ran along the back of the beach which was easier walking. Soon houses appeared and it was clear we were entering the edge of Cooden Beach with some very large and beautiful houses. At the end of the road we found the station for Cooden Beach and the Cooden Beach Hotel. The decision to stop for coffee was quickly made and we passed a very pleasant half hour in the lounge. The loos were good too! We felt rather scruffy and under-dressed though as this was obviously the place the upper echelons of Bexhill-on-Sea come to take morning coffee. We chatted to an elderly lady who promised us that if we carried on along the beach for a while we would soon come to a patio, which would make walking easier.
Not entirely sure what she meant, we took to the beach again but were back on soft shingle which proved to be hard going. We were obviously walking parallel to a road as we could see houses high above us which had gardens running down to the edge of the beach. Some of them were just wild with rickety wooden ladders, but many had been landscaped with zig-zag paths, terraced planting and summer houses looking out to sea. Many had boats at the bottom and garages which, presumably, housed boating equipment. After a while we took the chance to climb up a ladder to the road above and walk parallel with the sea for a while along the front of the houses. They were awesome; all were very large and detached and absolutely beautiful. When I looked them up later, I found one for sale for £890,000.
After walking along the cliff- top road for a while we found an alleyway down again and discovered a concrete path at the bottom – possibly the famous patio! I came to grief here as I slipped on the pebbles and sat down rather heavily. Luckily my natural padding saved me!
From here we could see the de La Warr pavilion in the distance shining in the sun and we realised we were nearly back at Bexhill. Sure enough, another fifteen minutes walking brought us to the pavilion.
It was lunchtime and we considered our options, eventually deciding to buy some sandwiches and catch the train home. We had covered 15 miles over the two days, were tired and it was getting colder again. If we walked on, the next opportunity for catching a train was several miles away. We are now far enough away for it to be a three hour journey and this time we changed trains three times, before arriving home late in the afternoon.
Walking for two days worked well and we managed to carry a minimum of luggage, so that the packs did not feel much heavier than on a normal day walk. A successful experiment and one which will need to be repeated as we walk further into Sussex and on into Kent.
Norman’s Bay 10.15 a.m.
Bexhill 1.00 p.m.
Day total 16187 steps
Running Total 169.9 miles