It is one of my favourite hiking gadgets and so useful here in the UK. When I hiked few weeks back and we had a lunch at a pebble beach, I had the most comfortable seat of all!
It is soft, thermally insulating, very light and does not take much space in your backpack. And it gives you a bit of luxury when you want to have a rest during your rambles.
As much I enjoy hiking, there are moments when I simply want to stay in my bed on a weekend morning. So when the alarm kicked off at 07:00am last Saturday my first thought was “I hope it is raining!”. Unfortunately, on this single occasion the wonderful British weather decided to disappoint me with a lovely blue sky. Having no more excuses I dressed up, picked up my usual hiking gear and left for the train station.
I was actually quite grumpy at this point (“I need more sleep!”) and the idea of a group hike felt terrible. My mood lift up slowly when I met some of my hiking companions for the day and it sky rocketed when we finally reached the coast around lunch time. Blue see and a sunny day make everything so much better!
The hike started at Rye train station. After a quick walk through the town we turned right into a country path winding among fields and meadows. We weren’t alone there. Sheep and lambs were enjoying this lovely day too and dragging a lot of our attention. They actually scared me at some point when I was taking a photo – without any warning a sheep-mum ran behind me to reconnect with its baby. The noise it made was so unexpected, loud and heavy I had no idea what was happening!
After an hour or so we got to a picturesque town of Winchelsea. When you are used to London’s noise, places like this feel a bit surreal and passing quickly without a stop makes you a bit of intruder. But it is a hike and there is no mercy for peaceful settlements! So we crossed the churchyard and went down Monk’s Walk where we turned into a meadow.
Back among sheep the walk continued down a hill through some grasslands. It took us to a narrow river. Following its banks we finally got to the best lunch spot you can have – a pebble beach of Pett Level. Unfortunately, as soon as we sat down the weather changed and cold wind with some showers forced us to eat quickly and leave even quicker. It was a pity not only because of the beautiful view – from now on we would only hike the cliffs.
At least this time the cliffs weren’t as steep as on my previous walk and it felt simply like a bit more challenging walk up hill. The wind was gone and the sun was out again. At this point I was really happy I fought my morning laziness. So many breathtaking views were around us! Rolling cliffs covered in trees, calm sea glittered with sunshine and blue water reaching beyond the horizon.
The weather got again a bit random but it quickly improved so we could still enjoy the last two cliffs. There was even a brief adventure time moment caused by a lack of path. Apparently the area has been suffering from landslides since few years. So instead of nice steps carved in the slope we had to do our best to get to the top – and this included climbing over a broken tree.
This way we reached East Hill of Hastings and the end of our walk at the same time. Most of the group went to a pub to have some fish and chips. Since it was already late me and few more ladies decided to skip this part and simply go to the train station. And this short walk through a town with a lot of old, narrow alleys seemed to be more challenging then the whole day in the countryside.
I was not hiking since summer last year so as soon as the winter was (almost) gone I started pondering over my first spring destination. It did not have to be anything special, even a short walk in the countryside would do. I simply could not wait to leave a big city for one day and enjoy vast open space and the view of horizon.
Luckily, I found a meetup group which was planning a walk over the chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters – a place I wanted to visit for a very long time. So I booked my place and on March 19th boarded a morning train to Seaford, excited about the mini-coastal adventure.
My excitement slowly faded away during the day. I was mentally prepared to climb 7 cliffs so when we reached that number and there were still more to go, I lost hope we would ever get to Eastbourne. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying the hike just at some point it looked more like an high-intensity training then a nice walk. Constantly going up and down, up and down and… up and down…
The weather was not perfect but it also was not terrible. The sky kept cloudy all day long and the wind got a bit cold in the afternoon but at least it was not raining. Also when you need to walk up-hill so many times it is much better when it is cooler. I went once on a coastal hike on a beautiful sunny day and trust me, at some point I really missed clouds and shade.
The views from the cliffs were amazing. Infinite sea joining the sky far far away, glimpses of sun light dancing on the water and vast open-space all around us. Despite many people walking the cliffs that day, you didn’t feel cramped. Such a wonderful feeling after all that time spent in the city!
But all good needs to end at some point. In the late afternoon we finally got to Eastbourne and, after a short break at a local pub, we boarded a train back home. And I, still wearing my hiking boots, have already started thinking about the next destination…