This is a lovely walk, taking in all the variety and views Hastings can offer. We crossed the Old London Road by the old convent, and puffed up the steep path to the West Hill via the Bembrook Road playground. There, the Council have taken the brave step of installing an outdoor gym – for anyone who wants to get fit for nothing, a regular climb up the hill followed by 30 minutes on those machines will do the trick – forget Bannatynes.
From there, along Collier Road to the West Hill Green – took in the great view of the Old Town roof-scape (why do the old roofs attract that lovely green/yellow lichen?) and fishing beach. Optional stop at the lift cafe. Then along St Mary’s terrace admiring the arty houses and the views of St Leonard’s. Down Grey Owl’s Reach steps – should be renamed Dog Poo Retch. Still eyes-down on poo alert, across the railway and down St James’s Road to Alexandra Park. When we first came to Hastings, we amused ourselves speculating about Alexandra and Clive Vale, who obviously are the leading lights in the bowling club. Clearly, in January, Alexandra and Clive go to Teneriffe – the club was shuttered and squirrels were digging holes in the green. Coffee stop at the park cafe. This Sunday, it was warm enough to sit outside. Hastings should be proud of Alexandra Park – it is exceptionally attractive and well-tended, and clearly many people enjoy it.
Onwards through the park, and then one of our favourite places – the woodland ride through Shornden Wood to the reservoir. Wonderful trees, especially the big old sweet chestnuts, and something the Philosopher has identified as a Caucasian Wing-nut. It lives at the end of the path, by the stream below the reservoir, and has incredibly long dangling catkins in spring.
Round the right-hand side of the reservoir, across the path in the middle of the two ponds, passing the Wild Garlic wood – a hidden joy in spring. We were intrigued to see the Terrapin traps in the ponds. Up through the top area of park we know as the ‘Blow-up’ lawn – there is a park very like it in the 60s film. Up Clarence Road – optional stop at the North Star pub – Horntye Road, then past the Sports Centre into Summerfields Wood. Down through the wood – nice to see the secret Walled Garden buzzing with volunteers. Further down to the mysterious folly/well/pool – we did a good deed by dragging a huge fallen branch out of the water – and eventually to the pretty pools at the bottom of the valley. To town past Cornwallis Gardens – more early daffodils. This Sunday we stopped for lunch at Ada, the Turkish restaurant in Robertson Street (very good) before getting the bus back up to Harold Road and home.
This walk is about 3.5 miles – ideal for a Sunday morning.