A packed beach alternative

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Escaping the chains of lockdown makes you see things differently and appreciate just how lucky we are to live in this area, surrounded by footpaths, beaches and open spaces. Having time to explore the general area is a luxury and by travelling a little further than our comfort zone there is so much more to discover and enjoy, including the Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve in Fairlight.

The Nature Reserve covers 853 acres including woodland, high pasture, dramatic cliffs and coastline and with plenty of parking and toilets, an ideal location for a day out or picnic with all the family, exercising the dog or enjoying the miles of grassland footpaths.

This sign puts the sheer size of the park into perspective.

The reserve sits within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, owned and managed by Hastings Borough Council with ancient woodland, grassland with mixed heather, meadows and sustainably managed farmland. The views of the south east coast are truly stunning (see photo below) and on a clear day you can see the coastline at Beachy Head round to Dungeness as far as Folkstone, the white cliffs of Dover and even the coast of France.

Beautiful views, as far as the eye can see and to the French coast.

The cliffs are rich in fossils and have produced many specimens of dinosaur, pterosaurs, turtles and crocodiles and the site is one of only a few in the world to have produced early mammal fossils.

There is ample pay and display parking with disabled bays and a functioning toilet bock within the top car park – but opening hours may be affected by the the current pandemic. In the advanced stages of construction is a new visitor centre which is the culmination of a long held ambition by Hastings Borough Council and partners Groundwork to build a new visitor centre made possible with council funding and a significant grant from the Intermeg North West Europe Programme.

The centre will be the first public building in Hastings to be built using straw bales, a renewable material and with great insulation properties which allows the building to be kept cool in summer and warm in winter without the need for additional heating. The aim is to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible, in line with the sustainable management of the surrounding nature reserve.

The new visitor centre being constructed at Hastings Country Park

The building is being built by Huff and Puff Construction who specialise in straw bale construction and can be contacted on 01305 564321 or by email on info@hufpuff.me

Builders of the new visitor centre at Hastings Country Park

Personally I have visited this country park before but, as it was a wet and windy winter’s day, I didn’t have the courage to venture further than the car park. But I would encourage anyone to visit as the views really are breath-taking, the countryside and walks are well managed and easy to navigate, and the dramatic rugged coastline is superb.

If you want a relaxing day out as an alternative to a packed beach this could be your answer. There’s plenty of space, beautiful and protected countryside, peace and quiet, no traffic jams and toilets which are open, all the right ingredients for a memorable day out.

Quiet and peaceful, not a soul in sight.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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