This week, summer finally decided to come to England! Planning ahead for trips in the UK is difficult because the weather is always unpredictable. But with temperatures in the high 80s yesterday, you can bet all I wanted to do was be somewhere near a beach. Brighton is the usual hot spot, but last time I went there, my friends and I had to stand in the aisle the for the entire journey because the train was so jam packed with beach-goers who had the same idea that we did. I wanted a beach without the crowds and a little variety as far as things to do and see.
East of Brighton, along the coast between Eastbourne and Dover, is the ancient town of Hastings. Hastings dates back to the 6th Century, although it’s claim to fame was the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conquerer invaded from France and killed the last Saxon King, paving the way for the Norman Conquest of England. There are still remnants of the Normans’ time in Hastings, most notably the ruins of Hastings Castle overlooking the sea. In the early 1800s, it became a smuggler’s port, with natural and hand carved caves in the cliffs below the castle where smuggled goods would be hidden. The caves also served as an air raid shelter during WWII when the town took hits from German bombs. Although not as industrious as it once was, Hastings is still an active fishing town with a seaside full of carnival rides and other tourist attractions.
I went with my friend Robbie. Our three goals were to eat seafood and visit the castle and smuggler’s caves. It turns out that even on a Saturday in August, Hastings’ two biggest attractions close at 5pm. The most happening seafood restaurant was also booked out for the evening. So we made do with pints in the Pump House pub and a walk along the mostly empty beach at sunset, and you know what? It was a damn fine substitute if I do say so myself. A wonderful way to spend what has surely been the hottest day this summer.
Hastings can be reached on the Southwest train services from London Victoria and London Bridge.
All photos © Kendra Bean and are linked to my Flickr account.