Winchelsea to Hastings walk

The hardest walk in the book. A gentle start with the 1066 Path and a great pub for lunch. After lunch, a great coastal cliff walk with 4 steep climbs, Fairlight Glen naturist beach, fish and chips on Hastings seafront, so one for summer.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Option Post # Weather
Sat, 04-Jun-22 Saturday Walk Winchelsea to Hastings - Icklesham, Pett, Fairlight, Hastings Country Park - then 3 steep glens before continuing into Hastings 3 sunny day with a gentle breeze
Sat, 01-Jan-22 Saturday Walk - Blow away the cobwebs: Winchelsea to Hastings 9 sunny to lunch then overcast with some sun
Sat, 03-Jul-21 Saturday Walk Winchelsea to Hastings - Icklesham, Pett, Fairlight, Hastings Country Park, steep Glens, a secluded beach for swimmers, then on into Hastings 13 murky with unexpected sunny bits
Sun, 08-Dec-19 Sunday Walk - A Coastal Classic: Winchelsea to Hastings 7 sunny then overcast with a little rain late on and always windy
Sat, 28-Jul-18 a Saturday Walk - Some Hills in the Afternoon: Winchelsea to Hastings via Winchelsea Village (or from Rye) 22 warm with a strong breeze
Sat, 15-Jul-17 Cinque Port to Cinque Port (Rye to Hastings) 20 overcast with sunny breaks then drizzly periods
Wed, 24-May-17 Wednesday Walk - Cinque Ports and Steep Glens 9 hot and sunny day but with a relieving breeze on cliff tops
Sun, 07-Aug-16 Sunday Walk 1 – a classic South Coast walk 5
Sat, 12-Dec-15 Saturday Third Walk -- Ho, Ho, Ho! 11 grey and windy but mild
Sat, 22-Aug-15 Saturday First Walk Walk requested 17 hot and sunny
Sun, 17-Mar-13 c Rye Circular (shorter version)
Wed, 15-Aug-12 b Rye Circular
Sat, 18-Jun-11 Winchelsea to Hastings
Sat, 05-Mar-11 d Winchelsea Circular
Sat, 24-Apr-10 a Rye to Hastings
Sat, 13-Mar-10 c Rye Circular (shorter version)
Sat, 20-Jun-09 a Winchelsea to Hastings
Sat, 21-Mar-09 ? Winchelsea to Hastings
Sat, 21-Jun-08 a Winchelsea to Hastings
Sat, 25-Aug-07 ? Winchelsea to Hastings
Sat, 23-Jun-07 a Winchelsea to Hastings
Book 1 Walk 25 - Winchelsea to Hastings

Length: 20.3 km (12.6 miles) Starting in Rye: 23 km (14.3 miles)
Toughness: 9 plus out of 10
London St Pancras: 09-34 hrs Southeastern High Speed service to Dover Priory
Arrive Ashford International: 10-11 hrs Change trains
Leave Ashford International: 10-25 hrs Southern service from Ashford Int. to Eastbourne
Arrive Rye: 10-47 hrs
Arrive Winchelsea: 10-50 hrs
London Charing Cross: 08-40 hrs Southeastern stopping service to Ramsgate London Bridge 08-49 hrs. Sevenoaks 09-13 hrs
Arrive Ashford International: 10-00 hrs Change trains
Leave Ashford International: 10-25 hrs Southern service from Ashford Int. to Eastbourne (as above)
Arrive Rye: 10-47 hrs
Arrive Winchelsea: 10-50 hrs

Hastings to St Pancras via Ashford Int. Southern service at 26 mins past the hour
Hastings to London Bridge and Charing Cross: Southeastern services at 31 & 50 mins past the hour
Hastings to Victoria: Southern service at 23 mins past the hour
Rail ticket: Suggest a day return to Hastings any route permitted. Make sure your ticket includes the High Speed leg from St Pancras to Ashford International if travelling on HS1.
This is a tough walk, not for the faint hearted, as all the hard work comes towards the end of the walk, when you climb up and descend 3 steep glens. But the rewards for your effort are considerable, with fine views for much of the day. Note: The path though Ecclesbourne Glen (one of the 3 glens) has been repaired and has reopened after years of closure.
You have a choice of walk start: you can set off from Rye, soon along the 1066 path, which takes you to Winchelsea railway station. Or you can start your walk from the latter railway station. From here you soon head over the River Brede's water meadows and agricultural fields as you make your way to the village of Icklesham. Here you have the option of an early lunch (recommended for Rye starters) at the popular Queens Head pub, with its large beer garden. But Winchelsea starters might prefer to wait a bit longer until you reach the village of Pett (having descended open fields and crossed the Pannel Sewer - a large open ditch). In Pett your pub stop is the Royal Oak Inn, much improved in recent years.
After Pett Village you drop down over fields to Pett Level, crossing another large open ditch (Marsham Sewer). You now head along an attractive cliff path - the Saxon Shore Way - to Fairlight, where you soon make your way past cliffs suffering from erosion. On then to Firehills to enter Hastings Country Park, which takes you on to the glens, with stunning sea views. In order - its up and down steep paths through Warren Glen, then Fairlight Glen - with its beach below for swimmers - and finally Ecclesbourne Glen now reopened. At the top you catch your breath before heading over a grassy plateau above Hastings all the way into town. You enter the historic old town first where you find some good pubs and places for refreshments. Continuing into the new town afterwards is not so pleasant but keep going and you are soon in the town's pedestrian precinct from where it is a short walk uphill to Hastings Railway station.
Recommended - particularly for those doing this walk for the first time.
Walk Directions are here: L=1.25
  • 04-Jun-22

    Just 3 on this walk, a shame as the early rain had gone and it was a sunny day with a gentle breeze . The sea looked quite choppy though.

    We picnicked by the cricket ground at Pett, watching a local game starting up. I got separated from the others on the way up to Fairlight village where I got lost in the side streets and cul de sacs - please remind me always to bring the written directions for this walk. I did catch up later though. Two of us got on different delayed trains back at around 4.30.

  • 04-Jun-22

    I forgot to add that the path through the landslip area has been beautifully restored with new (steep!) steps and there are lots of helpful new signs around the country park, though still a couple of junctions where the way is not 100% clear.

Length: 19.5 km (12.1 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 534/522m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness: 6 out of 10
Take the 09.37 Dover Priory train from St. Pancras I’nal (09.44 Stratford I’nal), change at Ashford (10.14/10.25) onto the Eastbourne service, arriving Winchelsea at 10.50.
Return trains: xx.19 (London Bridge, but veeery slow), xx.26 (St. Pancras via Ashford), xx.30 & xx.50 (both Victoria via 7oaks and Orpington). Buy a Hastings Return (incl. High Speed Surcharge).
A gentle start through the marshes along the 1066 Country-Path and two pubs to choose from. After lunch, a great coastal cliff-walk with 4 steep climbs before fish and chips on Hastings seafront and the finish through the Old Town up to the station.

Longer walk: get off a stop earlier and walk from Rye (covered in the directions pdf).

For walk directions, a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and photos click here.

Lunch: The Queen’s Head in Icklesham (4.7 km/2.9 mi, food from 12.00) or The Royal Oak in Pett (8.0 km/5.0 mi, food to 17.00).
Tea: Plenty options in Hastings. See the webpage or the pdf for details. T=1.25
  • 31-Dec-21

    What's the likelihood of any tea places in Hastings being open on New Year's Day? Not the busiest time of year for fish and chips shops I imagine, and there won't be any freshly caught fish...

  • 01-Jan-22

    9 walkers off the train , incl. 1 first-timer, plus 1 other man dressed for walking, who turned out to be a trainspotter. There was some standing water in the marshes, and then later plenty of mud on the coastal path (clearly well-used just now), but none of that was too difficult to negotiate.

    We arrived at The Royal Oak 5 minutes after my booking, and 4 of us had a sit-down lunch, 4 others had sit-down drinks followed by sandwiches outside, 1 marched on without stopping. We caught up with the marcher somewhere between the glens in the firehills and arrived in Hastings more-or-less together. The first-timer peeled off to explore the Old Town (and very busy it was), the rest arrived at the station from 16.05 onwards, which was perfect timing as trains to all three SWC-destinations were due pretty quickly. 1 left for London Bridge, 1 for Victoria, the rest to Ashford for Stratford (4) and St Pancras (2).

    Worthy of note is that the landslipped and closed path in Ecclesborne Glen is neither landslipped nor closed anymore: the Council has repaired any damages, removed fallen trees and put in a well-engineered stepped path all the way up.

    sunny to lunch then overcast with some sun

Book 1, Walk 25 - Winchelsea to Hastings

Length: 20.3 km (12.6 miles). If starting walk from Rye: 15 miles
Toughness: 9 out of 10 Up and down several steep glens towards the end of the walk
London St Pancras: 09-34 hrs Southeastern High Speed service to Dover Priory
Arrive Ashford International: 10-11 hrs Change trains
Leave Ashford International: 10-25 hrs Southern stopping service from Ashford Int. to Eastbourne
Arrive Rye (Sussex): 10-46 hrs
Arrive Winchelsea: 10-51 hrs

Hastings to London Charing Cross: 31 and 50 mins past the hour (journey length 1hr 33)
Hastings to Victoria: 23 mins past the hour (journey 2 hr 13)
Hastings to St Pancras (changing at Ashford International): 27 mins past the hour (journey 1 hr 30)
Rail ticket: the walk notes tell us to buy a day return to Winchelsea, but a day return to Hastings any route permitted might offer more return options. Please make sure your ticket includes the High Speed legs of your journey.
Covid-19 Compliance: [until 19 July 2021] please note the current guidance on this website and observe social distancing. You should all come prepared to exchange contact details for track and trace purpose. You can either pre-register for this walk (not essential ) by e-mailing me at or, if you prefer, please write your name, e-mail address and contact 'phone number on a small piece of paper for handing to me on the train or when we assemble at walk start. Thank you.
This is an invigorating walk, but not one for the faint hearted. The hard work - up and down steep glens - comes towards the end of the walk when you are already getting tired - so do please try to conserve your energy. But your efforts are well rewarded by fine views all day. Swimmers have the opportunity to recharge their batteries before the final steep glens by taking a dip at the secluded beach at Fairlight Glen - do please take care when descending the path down to the beach and back up.
The main walk starts at the remote railway station (a halt) of Winchelsea - some way from the old town. If starting your walk at Rye you take the well signed 1066 Country Walk path before joining the main walk when passing Winchelsea railway station. After a short section of road walking it's on then over fields and meadows and uphill to the village of Icklesham for an early lunch option, the popular The Queens Head with a good size beer garden. The walk continues down through farmland to the village of Pett, where you come to your second lunch stop option - the Royal Oak Inn. Recently reopened after a change in management post Covid lockdown, hopefully the pub is serving lunch today.
After lunch the walk continues down to Pett Level (a swimming beach) then up a series of paths to Fairlight, where detours to avoid cliff erosion take you to Hastings Country Park. You next come to the Glens - Warren, Fairlight (with beach down below) and Ecclesbourne. The last of these has been officially CLOSED since 2014. Locals - and some visiting walkers - have ignored the closure notices and walked up the rough terrain over the landslips. An alternative route complying with the path closure is included in the Walk Directions.
You finally arrive at the top of the last glen and come out onto the broad grassy plateau above Hastings. with fine views of the town below. You now head gently downhill to Hastings Old Town with a couple of good pubs, before continuing along the sea front of the New Town. The railway station is up the hill from the pedestrianised part of the town centre.
Many SWC walkers consider this walk to be one of the best if not the best in the original TO Book. Enjoy !
Walk Directions are here: L=1.25
  • Gavin Robinson

    I understand the that the England Ukraine match will be shown on Hastings Pier.


  • 02-Jul-21

    Sorry - I will not be with you tomorrow - my dodgy knee is playing up (an old war wound).

    if one of you could do the track and trace honours for me that would be appreciated.

    i have a reservation at the Royal Oak pub, Pett, for 4 at 1 pm. Give my name and the table is yours (I will let the pub know 'aforehand).

    Enjoy the walk - and again, I'm sorry I will not be with you.

  • 03-Jul-21

    Thirteen on this walk, I am told. I mean I was there, it sounds about right, but I did not bother to count because I was not expecting to do a walk report. Also some people joined later and local friends turned up to walk bits of the route, and all in all it is above my pay grade (especially as I don’t have any pay) to work this all out. So 13 it is, and if you want to give a higher figure just write n= and the number in a comment and it will update the record.

    The bad weather forecast was a blessing in one way. Southeastern put on a 12 carriage train out of St Pancras (good) but it would have been rammed if it had sunny (bad). As it was, it was not too busy, but much busier than it ought to have been on such a miserable day. Significant numbers of young people seemed to be going to Rye. What is it about that place that every twenty-something on the planet has to go there? But the connecting Marshlink train at Rye was at least a four carriage train, not the derisory two carriages we have had in the past.

    Only SWC-ers and one startled indie walker got off at Winchelsea, which would have tripled its passenger stats for the week if we had bought tickets to Winchelsea, but since we had been told to get ones to Hastings it didn’t. The weather was grey and gloomy and paths quite muddy, but lush grasses and flowers reminded us it was summer. Climbing up to the Queen’s Head we encountered a big herd of cows and calves that even a former stockman in our group was wary of walking through. But as it turned out the cattle were more scared of us and ran off lowing.

    It felt odd to pass the lovely Queen’s Head by, but we had a booking at the Royal Oak in Pett kindly made by our absent walk poster that we expanded from four to eight, and then made redundant by sitting outside anyway. They were friendly and attentive, but a bit slow with the food. About half an hour after we ordered someone else came to take our order, which was not encouraging. Then we had the old “we are just cooking it” and “We do have other customers” lines (aka “We forgot your order”). But the food when it came was very nice. Every dish looked interesting. So we award them a qualified tick.

    There was some breaks in the cloud as we ate, prompting hope that the seaside bit would be sunny too. But in fact there was a tablecloth of mist on top of the Fairlight massif: you could not even see the sea from the cliff path. By now we had fragmented and so what follows is a partial and prejudiced account, but all the others I was with decided to do the high (non-dip) route into Hastings, and I hear one or two others did likewise.

    Despite the gloom I felt I could not abandon this walk’s signature dips entirely. I skirted round the top of the first one (on a route known only to me and anyone who was done the Winchelsea to Hastings via Three Oaks walk) and as I was coming down into Fairlight Glen (dip two) there was definite light out to sea. I thought the weather might be clearing and went down to the beach. But any sunny interval had gone and the tide was at the awkward height where it conceals rocks but does not cover them with sufficient depth. So I went on without swimming.

    Hardly had I emerged from Fairlight Glen when the sun broke through. It was then blue sky all the way into Hastings. (So murky with unexpected sunny bits ) I got there at 6.15 and went for a swim: nice silvery light and a pleasant water temperature. Afterwards, despite the sun, Hastings was showing its less salubrious side to me, so I fled to the station. I decided the tight connection on the Marshlink-High Speed route was too risky, given that the Charing Cross route was only 10 minutes slower, so I took the latter, at 7.30pm. It was the quietest train I have been on for several months. I had a carriage to myself nearly all the way. I have a feeling there is a football match on…..

  • Sandy

    Well Walker, it's all very well saying you followed a route known only to yourself . . . the two who didn't eat in the pub, both newcomers to this walk, took a wrong turning after Fairlight Glen. After much debate, following dotted lines on our phones and being confused by reaching a caravan park which was not the one mentioned in the directions, we found ourselves on the wrong side of the fencing protecting the Ecclesbourne Glen landslip. However on doubling back, a kind local lady gave us directions to Hastings which, it turned out, was very close. We made the 1750 train which was quiet until Orpington. No time for refreshment and no refreshment options at the station or on the train. Got home in time to miss the first goal!

Length: 19.5 km (12.1 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 495 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
[Sunset down there on the coast will be at 15.52, giving sufficient light for walking to 16.20 at least. And the last 20 minutes or so are along lit streets.]
Take the 09.42 Minster train from St. Pancras I’nal (09.49 Stratford I’nal), change at Ashford (10.19/10.25) onto the Eastbourne service, arriving Winchelsea at 10.51.
From Victoria take the 08.41 train to Ashford via Bromley South and Sevenoaks, arrives 10.03.
Return trains: xx.19 (Victoria), xx.26 (St. Pancras via Ashford), xx.31 & xx.50 (both Charing X).
Buy a Hastings Return (incl. High Speed Surcharge).

A gentle start through the marshes along the 1066 Country-Path and two pubs to choose from. After lunch, a great coastal cliff-walk with 4 steep climbs before fish and chips on Hastings seafront and the finish through the Old Town up to the station.

There is a “Christmas Pop-Up Emporium” at the Stade Hall on the Seafront, but only to 16.00 hours…
For walk directions, a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and photos click here.

Lunch: The Queen’s Head in Icklesham (4.7 km/2.9 mi, food from 12.00) or The Royal Oak in Pett (8.0 km/5.0 mi, food all day).
Tea: Plenty options in Hastings. See the webpage or the pdf for details. T=1.25
  • 24-Nov-19

    Ecclesbourne Glen (the last steep climb before Hastings) is still blocked by a landslip. Locals still use the (officially closed) coast path. I've added directions for the inland diversion - contour around the glen, rather than (down then up) crossing it.

    If you take the inland diversion, please could you walk-check the directions.

    Thanks, Andrew

  • 08-Dec-19

    7 in sunny then overcast with a little rain late on and always windy weather.

    Plenty of standing water in the marshes, kind of useful for getting rid of the copious mud acquired around field gates and along fenced paths. The wind was strong and in the faces yet we got to the Royal Oak within 5 minutes of the booked time. A very pleasant pub with well portioned tasty food and friendly staff. On down to Cliff End and on to the Fire Hills, then down and up through the three glens. We used the blocked route (a bit slippier than usual, but no serious obstacle) and got up the final ascent bang on 4 o'clock. So we saw Hastings as the lights started to come on, yet could still clearly see the South Downs at Eastbourne.

    Just before that there were some marvellous cloudscapes, as the dark rain clouds broke to reveal mainly blue sky and some red-tinged fluffy clouds.

    We were a few minutes late for the next fast connection via Ashford (16.25) and the next one was cancelled so took the 16.50 to Charing Cross.

  • 08-Dec-19

    I should add that the closed path out of Ecclesbourne Glen is clearly maintained by someone (but probably not the Council) as the growth on the sides was neatly cut back and - even after 3 (?) years of closure - all steps are still in place and in good nick, despite the landslips.

DAC is taking a break...

Length: 20.5 km (12.7 mi) or 24.5 km from Rye
Ascent/Descent: 564/550m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours or 6 ¼ hours from Rye
Toughness: 7 out of 10 or 8 out of 10 from Rye
Take the 09.34 Ashford train from St. Pancras (09.41 Stratford I’nal), change Ashford (10.11/10.24), arriving Winchelsea at 10.50 [or Rye at 10.45]
Return trains: up to 4 trains per hour either to LBG/W’loo East/Charing X, or to Victoria (slowest) or to St. Pancras via Ashford (fastest). Buy a Hastings return.

This walk starts from Winchelsea station below Winchelsea (once a coastal port, but storms have since stranded it 2 km inland), up into the pretty and historic village of Winchelsea (otherwise not visited on the main walk) and then by an attractive ridge route with fine views to the Queen's Head in Icklesham, a 17th century pub near the church in Icklesham. [The alternative main walk route is flat and follows the River Brede and canals to lunch.] The afternoon section features lovely coastal views and has a hilly ending (there are 4 steep cliffs to climb). Hastings has a 'working beach', a resort beach, a modern art gallery (, open to 17.00 hours) and a quaint old town.
A Circular Walk from Rye is described.
For walk directions, a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and photos click here.
Lunch: The Queens Head in Icklesham (5.4 km/3.3 mi, food from 12.00).
Tea: Plenty of options in Hastings. See the webpage for details.
  • Anonymous

    This looks like a great walk! Hoping to go on it. I was reading the comments on the walk page and it looks like there is a closed cliff path due to possible landslips. Do you know if the online version incorporates an alternate route?

  • Anonymous

    Never mind above question! I didn't read the pdf carefully enough. The answer was sitting there on the first page.

  • Anonymous

    Southeastern have some summer tickets on sale at £20 return.

  • 28-Jul-18

    ...but this is technically not valid for breaking the journey at intermediate stations...

  • 28-Jul-18

    The trains to Ashford and on to Rye/Winchelsea were very full indeed, but most SWC-folk seemed to have found seats. 21 started in Winchelsea, 1 in Rye for the long walk, whom we bumped into when leaving the lunch pub. 22 therefore in total. The weather had returned to some kind of (shortlived) normality: low 20 degrees, the wind from the West, and quite some breeze at that. So choppy seas for the would-be-swimmers (not me).

    A Book 1 Classic posted with the amended nice start through Winchelsea [nice, albeit largely tarmac]. All seemed to walk this variant (probably just following the 'leader'). The walk falls into three parts, really: a nice start, a drab middle (the bit from Cliff End/Pett to the boundary of Hastings Country Park: enclosed paths between garden fences, residential roads and no views), and a very nice finish up and down through the glens and along the top of the cliffs to Hastings.

    Hastings itself was booming with people, temporary fairground and all.

    Having just missed the 16.26 back to Ashford, the faster walkers settled into the 'interesting' Crowley's pub (named after Alisteir Crowley, the occultist, you guessed it) for a drink until the 17.26 train. warm with a strong breeze

  • 30-Jul-18

    Just to add....after some slow service at the lunch pub about 8 or 9 set-off for a leisurely afternoon with one other exploring a new route. The relaxed pack encountered many diversions along the way with some popping into a flower show at Pett and others stopping by the Coastguards for afternoon tea and drinks....I think most dropped down to Fairlight Glen at different times...but given the rough seas only 2 managed a "full body paddle" in the surf.....a pity, as the water temp was actually very pleasant....and would have made for a very nice late afternoon swim had it not been so rough....A number of the relaxed group then re-assembled in Hastings for drinks before catching the 20:50 armed with provisions to feed an army for a rather convivial trip back to London.....

Book 1 Walk 25 – Rye to Hastings Romney Marsh, Dramatic Cliffs and Two Ancient Cinque Port Towns T=1.25

Distance: 15 Miles or 24 km for those more metrically minded (with option to shorten to 12.5 miles/20.1 km by starting in Winchelsea (an hour later))
Difficulty: 9 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:34 AM train from London St. Pancras to Ashford International and change onto the Southern service to Brighton (arriving 10:11 and departing 10:33) to arrive in Rye at 10:54. For those wishing a later start and a shorter walk, you can take the 10:37 train from London St. Pancras changing at Ashford (arriving at 11:14; departing 11:33) to the Southern Brighton service to Winchelsea, arriving 11:59 (about which time the Rye starters should be passing by). Return trains from Hastings are regular and varied (hopefully avoiding any issues with Southern): to Charing Cross 18:20; 18:50; 19:50; 20:50; to Victoria 17:58; 18:58; 19:58; and to St. Pancras (via Ashford) 18:36; 19:36; 20:36. Buy a day return to Hastings.

This is reputed to be the toughest walk in book 1. It starts off rather innocently in a gentle (almost misleading way) across Romney Marsh and finishes with a bang with four steep climbs along coastal cliffs with an opportunity for a cooling idyllic swim in an almost Mediterranean cove towards the end. I have not actually done this walk in this direction in ages (indeed it has not had a Saturday outing since 2015); however, I thought it would make for a nice change from the Hastings to Rye route which has been done more often of late AND the tide times for swimming in Fairlight Glen (the idyllic cove) are better in the late afternoon/early evening than in the morning. Please note that part of the coastal path has been diverted at the end of the walk – see some instructions for the diversion in the walk instructions. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

The recommended lunch spot is the Queens Head in Icklesham (01424 814 552) about 4.5 miles/6.5 km into the walk. An alternative lunch pub, The Royal Oak (01424 812 515) is located in Pett village about 1.5 miles/2 km further along the route. Tea and afternoon refreshments could be taken at the Coastguards Tea Room (01424 814 131) on a short inland diversion to the right at the top of the first hill just before the Coast Guard Radar Tower. The old port in Hastings offers a variety of refreshment spots.

Enjoy the walk!
  • 13-Jul-17

    For fast walkers there is also the cafe at the Jerwood Gallery:

    Seaviews, open to 17.00.

  • 13-Jul-17

    I recommend the alternative route from Winchelsea station to Icklesham (section C, paragraph 27 in the directions). Very pretty. Fine views. No longer than the main route.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, so happily there is an option for those of us who don't like to get out of bed at 8am on a Saturday. See all you late risers on the 10.37.


  • 15-Jul-17

    2 off an earlier train, 12 off the posted one, making 14 doing Rye to Hastings, with 6 others starting later for the shorter walk from Winchelsea, i.e. 20 on an overcast with sunny breaks then drizzly periods kind of day, with a nice breeze from the front. Most lunched at the Queen's Head, Icklesham while a handful continued to the Royal Oak, Pett. Also about a handful seemed to have walked the alternative route to Icklesham. The footpath closure at Ecclesbourne Glen is still in place, but the alternative path so overgrown that one has to assume no one actually walks it. Until the land slips again...

    The 5 faster walkers got to Hastings in good time for the 16.50 train, after a beer in the Old Town.

  • 16-Jul-17

    Nine of us swam at Fairlight Cove, despite grey skies and heaving seas. Another (non-SWC) group also turned up and swam, so the sea was suddenly quite busy.

    Earlier a large chunk of the group had stopped at the Coastguards for tea. It was sunny at that point, so perhaps we should have pressed on and had the swim then. But never mind: always nice to have tea before the end of the walk and it gave us fuel for the big dips.

    In Hastings a couple of walkers at least had fish and chips but six of us found a lovely Thai restaurant in a bookstore in the Old Town and had a delicious all fresco dinner there, joined by a seventh walker who just had drinks. 9.50 train home, getting back to London after 11.30pm. Tired now......

Book 1, Walk 25 - Rye to Hastings

Length: 24 km (14.9 miles)
Toughness: 10 out of 10

London St Pancras: 09-37 hrs
Arrive Ashford International: 10-14 hrs
Leave Ashford International: 10-33 hrs Brighton service
Arrive Rye: 10-54 hrs

Return: Hastings to St Pancras via Ashford International: 17-09, 17-36 , 18-36, 19-37 and 20-36 hrs.
Return: Hastings to London Charing Cross: direct trains at 17-50, 18-46, 19-50 and 20-50 hrs.
Return: Hastings to London Victoria: direct trains at 17-55, 18-55, 19-55 and 20-56 hrs.

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Hastings, with a HS1 supplement.

This is the toughest walk in Book 1 - and possibly the toughest in the SWC repertoir, with most of the hard work - up and down steep glens - coming towards the end of a long walk when a walker is already tired. But the walk in rewarding and worth the mega effort for its variety and views !

Your long day's walk starts in the pretty Cinque Port of Rye, where you take the 1066 path into Winchelsea, once a port but now landlocked. Then its over farmland, fields and water meadows to Icklesham for an early lunch at the usually excellent Queens Head pub tel: 01424-814552. Please 'phone ahead with numbers - your e.t.a should be just before 13-00 hrs.
After lunch you descend to Pett Level and the sea, where a later lunch option is available at the Smugglers Inn. Onwards now into the National Trust's Fairlight Estate, where you soon find yourself dodging landslips as you make your way towards the Glens, and the hard work descending and ascending them. In recent times you have to take a diversion around Ecclesbourne Glen to avoid a land slip: all will become clear when you get there ! Eventually you arrive on the grassy cliff top above Hastings for your final, level walk into Hastings, for much needed refreshments in one of the pleasant pubs in the Old Town,
Today's walk is not suitable for anyone with evening appointments back in London: you will not make it to Hastings much before 6 pm, and probably later.
Walk directions: here L=1.25

Next Week, Wednesday 31 May : SWC 263c - Haslemere to Midhurst

  • 08-May-17

    Sadly I can't join you in this occasion. Last time I led a small group of tired walkers from the Coastguard Tea Rooms (up for sale by the way) back to Hastings by avoiding the glens. Happy to advise but reluctant to suggest a less strenuous route.

  • Anonymous

    Managed to go straight through the glens last time in spite of signs trying to frighten people off jfk

  • Anonymous

    One of the best walks and best pubs in SE Britain....


  • Brid

    Anybody doing this walk?

  • 23-May-17

    Brid - there should be a few takers

  • 25-May-17

    7 of us were on the scheduled train from St Pancras and Ashford, to start the walk in Rye, whilst 2 took alternative trains to start their walk from Winchelsea station, joining the rest of us at lunch, so that's 9 on a hot and sunny day but with a relieving breeze on cliff tops .

    The morning leg from Rye to Icklesham on the flat was most pleasant, with late lambing in this part of the world adding to the peaceful, bucolic scenery. Up a hill to the Queen's Head pub, as busy as always, where 8 of us dined (7 satisfied customers: the chef's concept of a cheese sandwich left our eighth diner bemused - she returned it). A good choice of beer, though, and friendly staff, so having rehydrated we set off on the long, demanding afternoon leg. We took on board more liquid at the customer friendly Royal Oak Inn above Pett (Note: a good alternative lunch stop, particularly at weekends when the Queen's Head is heaving). We now said goodbye to one walker who took the bus from Pett to Hastings, to be in time for a London evening appointment, and when we reached Pett Level, another colleague opted to return to Rye on the Book 2 walk - we met him on the evening train home to Ashford. Fairlight and the glens proved to be hard work in the heat, as expected, and after much head scratching most opted to walk down and up Ecclesbourne Glen, still officially closed following land slips. It was passable, but on reflection we should have stayed on the upper glen and diverted around the closed glen. However, no harm done, but we were now behind schedule and on arriving in Hastings most of us headed straight for the railway station, taking much needed liquid there before catching the 18-36 train back to Ashford. A short wait for the Javelin train and I was soon in my local in Pimlico in time to watch the denouement of the Ajax -v- Manchester United game - accompanied by a beer or two. Verily, it had been a hot day - and I was still thirsty !

Book 1 Walk 25 – Winchelsea to Hastings
Length: 20.3 km (12.6 miles). Toughness: 9/10

09:27 Hastings train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 09:31, Orpington 09:49), changing at Hastings for the Ashford train* (arr 11:00, dep 11:18), arriving Winchelsea at 11:33. Buy a day return to Winchelsea.

In theory you could also travel out on the 10:08 High Speed train from St Pancras, but you'd have a 30-minute wait at Ashford and would arrive at Winchelsea 9 minutes later than the others.

Direct trains back from Hastings to Cannon Street are at xx:31 (fast) & xx:50 to 18:50, then hourly. If you've got a High Speed ticket you could return via Ashford at xx:18, while lovers of slow trains on the scenic coastal route to Victoria can gamble on a Southern train turning up at xx:22. Last trains 20:22 to Victoria, 21:18 to St Pancras via Ashford, 21:50 to Cannon Street.

A classic Book 1 walk getting its first Sunday outing since records began, as the Sunday train service to Winchelsea was withdrawn for many years. There's been a major landslip near the end of the walk but the diversions are well-signposted, and a local has also kindly offered to reveal an easier alternative route.

You'll need to bring Book 1 or print the directions from the Walk 25 page.

* If there's a problem on Sunday with the connecting (Southern) service from Hastings you can always devise some kind of Hastings Circular. T=1.25
  • 04-Aug-16

    Being quite selfish I would welcome something in Kent or East Sussex!

  • 04-Aug-16

    If the London-based people can put up with a longish train journey I could post Book 1 Walk 25 (Winchelsea-Hastings), now that Winchelsea has Sunday trains again. Could someone with local knowledge confirm that it's possible to get around the landslip in Ecclesbourne Glen?

  • 04-Aug-16

    Regarding the landslips in Hastings Country Park the minor diversions are well signposted. For those who do not wish to negotiate the many steps involved in going up and down the glens back into Hastings it is possible to take a level route from the Coastguard Tea Rooms at Fairlight; this entails a walk through an overgrown quarry and then a footpath that leads to Barley Lane that leads to the East Hill lift adjacent to the Tamarisk Steps that lead to the Hastings Old Town. This level route is also very pretty and does give good views across the sea. I am happy to lead this deviation from the tearooms for those who do not fancy the strains of the glens. It probably reduces the overall grading of the walk down to 7/10 from 10/10!

  • 05-Aug-16

    Most recent feedback is that

    - the coast path is still officially closed with a signed inland detour. If you've done the walk before, its the last 'up' before Hastings. i.e. after Fairlight Glen.

    - but (at your own risk) you can still use it.

  • 05-Aug-16

    If the Hastings - Winchelsea train isn't running the 100 bus (The Wave) departs Hastings at 1106 and takes about 35 mins to get to Winchelsea (the village not the station).

  • 07-Aug-16

    Well the sea fret finally cleared at 5pm. Five walkers in the main group plus another couple who reduced the age profile considerably and another chap who said he was getting fit for Kilamanjaro.

  • 08-Aug-16

    5 on this walk with the weather w= cloudy-with-a-breeze. However at the start of the 4 glens stretch there was sea fret with a strong breeze which means its in your face as you do the ups and downs. After the pub in Icklesham the route to the coast can be a bit tricky and a compass is helpful. At one field the owner has built chalets and there is quite extensive camping which means the instructions to head for the corner of the field to reach a lane is really not the best route. Far easier to head for the chalets to reach the lane and turn left .

    Also the Royal Oak Inn is definitely open and looks very popular.

    On the 4 glens route I did not pay attention to the instructions and the gpx route file and ended up taking the "closed" path. The final climb is tricky in places and has become very overgrown - not really recommended and I should know better at my age! On the walk back through Hastings at 5pm the sun came out and it was a glorious end to the day. The HS1 which I think has really made a difference for me in getting to walks in this area whisked me back to East London in time to catch the womens Olympic road cycle race which seemed far more dangerous than the last stretch of the Hastings Country park path.

Combo Walk – Book 1 Walk 25 and Book 2 Walk 29: Rye Circular – an interesting exploration of the hills, ancient towns and marshland around Rye finishing with some Festive Cheer at a Dickensian themed Christmas Festival in the historic town center of Rye

Length: About 12 miles
Difficulty: 3ish out of 10 – largely flat with one hill
Train: Take the 9:34 Faversham train from London St. Pancras, arriving in Rye at 10:54 (with a change at Ashford – arriving 10:11; departing 10:33). For those preferring the slow train, take the 9:10 Ramsgate train from London Charing Cross (9:13 from Waterloo East) to Ashford and connect with the 10:33 departure to Rye – but, beware, this has a tight connection at Ashford, arriving at 10:28; another option with a more forgiving connection time would be the 8:52 Ashford International train from London Victoria (arriving at Ashford at 10:21) and connecting with the 10:33 train to Rye. Return trains from Rye are at 56 minutes past the hour until 21:56. Buy a day return to Rye.
This walk is a “hidden walk”, created by combining two existing walks. It is being posted specifically to coincide with the Dickensian themed Christmas celebration taking place this Saturday in historic Rye. The walk essentially follows the 1066 trail from Rye to Winchelsea along the base of the bluff, it then goes through Winchelsea and climbs atop the bluff passing a windmill en route to the Book 1 Walk 25 lunch pub in Icklesham (on an alternative route to the one in Book 1). After lunch, you then follow the Book 1 route to Pett Level where you pick up the instructions for Book 2 Walk 29 (just prior to [7] in the Book 1 instructions (at instruction point 57) and picking up with [4] in the Book 2 instructions). The route is actually an oddly contorted figure of eight with Winchelsea in the center. More information and details for this combination can be found here. Also, do not forget the instructions for Book 1 Walk 25 and Book 2 Walk 29 (or relevant parts thereof). More information and a schedule of events for the Christmas Festival in Rye can be found here. For those interested in shortening the walk and/or spending more time in Rye at the Festival, it is possible to catch a bus at Pett Level (check the times at the bus stop near the Smugglers Inn) or Winchelsea in front of the New Inn (hourly at 49 minutes past; then 18:37 and 19:37) or catch a train from Winchelsea (15:50, 17:50 or 19:50) back to Rye.
The recommended lunch pub is the Queens Head (01424 814 552) in Icklesham (about 5.5 miles into the walk). A booking for 8 at 1:00 pm has been made – which may need to be adjusted depending on numbers. Tea and/or afternoon refreshments can be had in Winchelsea at the Winchelsea Farm Kitchen (possibly, if open – there has been some press that it is now closed) or the always trustworthy New Inn, both passed as you follow the instructions back through Winchelsea in the afternoon (though the New Inn is first). To round out the day, plenty of festive libations should be on offer in Rye.

Enjoy the walk and Happy Holidays!
  • 11-Dec-15

    I will coming from Hastings

  • 13-Dec-15

    11 on this walk, grey and windy but mild . Most came on the high speed train, but a few on the slower option. We had a very pleasant walk out from Rye, including an interesting session of gender bias correction activities at the sign for Dumb Woman's Lane (there is a photo of this if anyone cares to post it up...). Though most seemed initially inclined to do the book 1 route from Winchelsea, they were prevailed to try the alternative route along the ridge to Icklesham and seemed to approve of it.

    One is used to having lunch at the Queen's Head in Icklesham in high summer, sitting in its garden and enjoying the view of the valley below. But it was also a very cosy place to sit inside in winter. We did not emerge until well after 2pm and it seemed a bit implausible at this point that we would make it all the way to Pett Level (memories of summer swims!!) and back across the marsh to Winchelsea before dark, but we did just about manage it.

    Most took the 4.49 bus here after a hasty tea in the pub, but four of us decided to walk, in the deep darkness, largely without use of torches, across the fields, which we managed to do thanks to cunning navigation by our resident Stargazer. I don't know if those who caught the bus managed to catch any of the Christmas festivities in Rye: we found the town looking very festive but empty of people, as the townsfolk had by now decamped to a carol service in the church. We looked in on this briefly but the charms of the Ypres Inn soon lured us away. Nice dinner there. 8.56pm train home.

Book 1 Walk 25 : Winchelsea to Hastings
Length: 20.3km (12.6 miles)
Toughness: 9 out of 10
Explorer 124 or Landrangers 189 & 199

Train from Cannon Street 09:48 (London Bridge 09.53) (changing at St Leonards Warrior Sq arrive 11.14 depart at 11.31 ) arriving at 11:50 Winchelsea and please wait for the St Pancrass crowd who should arrive 9 minutes later
London St Pancrass Int 10.37 (Stratford Int 10.44) – 11:59 Winchelsea
Buy a day return to Winchelsea
Frequent return trains

There was a large landslip at Ecclesbourne Glen (between Hastings and Fairlight Glen) on the Hastings to Winchelsea/Rye walks. The coast path may still be closed, there is a detour if need be.

An excellent walk - the hardest and possibly the best in book 1.
Lovely coastal views, but be sure to take sufficient water and a hat if it is sunny as there is little shade.
You may wish to take your swimming togs if the weather is good.

The recommended lunch place is the Queens Head (tel 01424 814 552 01424 814 552, Parsonage Lane, Icklesham, which serves good food from midday to 9.30pm, but tends to become rather crowded.
5km further on and a 350 metre detour from the route there is the Smuggler Inn at Pett Level (tel 01424 813 491 ) which serves food midday to 2pm daily but on your toes to get here in time.

As always if more than 6 wish to lunch at the pub then please phone ahead as a courtesy and possibly a necessity and even to check if they are still trading.

You go past numerous tea places on the route through Hastings

You will also find more details on the lunch and tea options and background to the walk here

  • 17-Aug-15

    High tide is at 4pm today, so both Pett Level and Fairlight Glen should be good for swimming (at least as far as water depth is concerned: use your own judgement re waves etc). If you arrive at Fairlight Glen after 6.30pm there could be problems with underwater rocks, however

  • Anonymous

    thanks for posting this walk, can you kindly brief as to why this is such a hard walk ? plus are there any vertigo inducing clinging to cliff edge bits ?!

    many thanks

  • 20-Aug-15

    It is for the most part an extremely gentle and easy walk, with gently undulating territory. But the last three or four miles are along a hilly bit of coast, with four great big descents and three great big climbs. Coming at the end of a longish walk, these are a test for the muscles, but the scenery is great, so what the hey.

    There are no vertigo-inducing cliff edge bits.

  • Anonymous

    thanks for info Walker

  • 22-Aug-15

    12 hot and sunny About 10 on the slow train. London Bridge was very busy, long ticket queues, and the ticket machines didn't believe in Network Cards. Guard was cool about buying a ticket on the train. The 10, having arrived at midday, didn't wait for the High Speed peeps, just as well as their very overcrowded trains were delayed due to number getting on and off at each stop. Lunch pub was great. Food looked good. But it is early on in the walk. Some minor issues in Fairlight - more roads have fallen into the sea, All met up at Firehills, most went to the Coastguards, and took the easier inland route ("Barley Lane") to avoid the hills in the afternoon heat. 2 made it down to Fairlight Glen, and were privileged to meet the volunteer path maintenance crew (the route down is in excellent repair, and has changed slightly from last year due to a landslip). The beach was unusually busy. The Fairlight 2 caught trains around 8pm.

    The 4 hills at the end are hard work on a hot summer's day, especially given the books late start. An earlier start would be better, even if it meant a picnic lunch, or a much later Coastguard's Cafe lunch. Maybe the book 2 walk (starting in Hastings) just works better. A shame, as the lunch pub is exceptional.

  • Ian T

    A further 5 on the delayed "fast" connection. Both the Hi speed and the Marsh Line were overcrowded, the latter outrageously so. There were were minor spats as people tried to force their way on at intermediate stations. This caused delay. 3 of our number headed direct to Pett Level when we finally squeezed our way off. The other 2 did the proper walk. I'd just like to point out,by the way, that I was first into Hastings. I had to wait for the others to catch up at the ice cream van.

    Once in Hastings, I fell in with a bad crowd. They took me drinking then persuaded me to catch the slowest imaginable train back to London me with my superfast, only bought by toffs, Hi Speed return)- it stopped EVERYwhere - and a few other places as well. :(

  • Anonymous

    Historical duplicate/misleading attendance numbers cleanup project: 17