Over Galley Hill to Bexhill – walking off the Christmas pounds

Yes, yes, I know, of course you have to walk absolutely miles to lose a single ounce, but I never think January is the time for starving oneself. Hopefully, I can stop the rot by doing a bit more exercise.
     What a relief, life is now back to normal. The seemingly everlasting weekend, the Groundhog Christmas holiday days, are finally done.Why do we all collude with it year after year?
    Sunday was a bright day, so off we strode. The sea was calm, the sky was blue,and many others had the same idea.
    Even though the Galley Hill section of the Hastings to Bexhill cycle/footpath is tarmac and divided down the middle for
walkers and cyclists, there is barely room for two people to walk abreast.Dogs and kids kept spilling across into the path of the
cyclists, amid much bell-ringing, shouting and swearing. But I’ve banged on quite enough in the past about the deficiencies of the cycle/footpath from Hastings to Bexhill, so I’ll talk about other things.
    Galley Hill is a clayey mud/stone cliff just past Glyne Gap, the tunnel to the retail park and the cafe on the beach. Curiously, the section of cliff on the Hastings side of the tunnel, which is actually twice as high, is called Little Galley Hill.

Looking back to Hastings from Glyne Gap
The beach by Galley Hill – tide too high for fossils

     Apparently the beach just here is a well-known fossil-hunting site, lots of dinosaur tracks were found after a storm in 2000, and I read it is good for prehistoric crocodiles. Not on Sunday, though, the tide was up. Geology websites use words I have never heard of: Argillaceous? Bioturbation? What do they mean? I’ll give the answers at the end of the post.

The cliff at Galley Hill
Cliff and sky

     However, the place is not best known for its geology, but for motor-racing. In 1902 the 8th Earl de la Warr organised Britain’s first ever motor race from the top of Galley Hill, along the promenade at Bexhill.
     Incidentally, Gilbert, the 8th Earl, was the father of the notorious Idina Sackville, the prime mover in the scandalous Kenya ‘Happy Valley’ set of the 1930s. Battleaxe recommends an excellent book about Edina, ‘The Bolter’, by Edina’s great-granddaughter, Frances Osborne. Believe me, the book is sufficiently gripping to distract one from unsettling thoughts about the author’s married life with George Osborne.
     Gilbert Sackville ran off with a can-can dancer and divorced Edina’s mother, Muriel Brassey, in 1901.

Gilbert Sackville, ‘Bexhill and Dunlop’ by ‘Spy’. Apparently, Idina’s one facial flaw was an undershot chin – you can see where she got it from

     Despite this scandal, the race went ahead, and the young Edina must have watched the daring drivers along with 30,000 other astonished spectators. At that time, the road speed limit was 12mph, but these cars reached a shocking 50mph. Over 200 motorists from across Europe entered. A Frenchman, Leon Serpollet, managed the fastest speed, 54mph, in his steam driven ‘Easter Egg’. Further events were held in subsquent years, but by 1907 the focus of motor racing had moved to the new Brooklands circuit, in Surrey.

Racing down galley Hill into Bexhill
The fastest car in 1902, the Serpollet ‘Egg’
A Napier car crashed over the cliff in 1907

    Anyway, when we arrived at Bexhill we treated ourselves to lunch at Trattoria Italiana. We have been plenty of times before and recommend it. Then we had to drag our over-stuffed carcasses all the way back again…..

Looking down from the top of Galley Hill

    Argillaceous – minerals made largely of clay. Bioturbation – reworking of soils or sediments by animals or plants.

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