The View from the West Hill

View from the West HillThe West Hill in Hastings is an open space that separates the Old Town with the town centre. As well as the castle and smugglers caves, the hill was once the site of a windmill and used for farming.View from the West Hill

Now it is a pleasant green space that offers, as it always has, the best views of Hastings. Here a some photos of those views taken as morning showers left the town and headed over the channel.View from the West HillThese photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Cliff End

Cliff EndCliff End at Fairlight marks the point where Pett Level starts. On the beach, below the cliffs, you can see millions of years of geological and natural history all within the same area. On that beach are fossil evidence and footprints of dinosaurs, the remains of a Bronze Age forest and the detritus of the modern world.Dinosaur FootprintThe footprint above is one of several found along this stretch of Cliff End beach. It’s likely to have been an Iguanodon, who left the footprint whilst grazing near a river. The beach is full of huge rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. This stretch of cliffs all the way west to Hastings is highly unstable, and is slowly falling into the sea. Looking at them, it is clear why this is happening. Great fissures run up and along them, which are easily widened by plant roots, rain water and the endless work of the sea.Cliff EndThe geology here is fascinating, and best explained on this website. The Bronze Age forest, which is around 6,000 years old is found a short distance from the cliffs, and is visible when the tide is low. pett-level-walk-4This BBC article provides a good history about these ancient forests. Lots of other things can be seen on the beach, and the modern world is well represented. Most notably along this stretch is the axle and wheel stuck between some rocks. Cliff EndCliff End beach is a great place for a seaside walk, particularly at low tide, when the rock pools and sand is revealed. It is even more enjoyable knowing that in one 360 degree view you can see a substantial part of the history of the Earth.pett-level-walk-6All of these photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Between Rain Showers

Between Rain ShowersQuite often I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to rain. On this day however I was lucky enough to have picked the part of Bexhill beach that lay between rain showers.

So, at low tide, on a typical summer’s day I was able to get these photographs of the rain showers as they passed over Hastings and Bexhill. I stayed dry for a change.

These photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.Between Rain Showers

Royal Military Canal

Royal Military Canal

The Royal Military Canal stretches 28 miles from Cliff End at Pett to Seabrook at Hythe. This canal wasn’t created for trade however. It was built as a defensive line, a third line of defence against the expected invasion by Napoleon. Had he made an attempt to invade, he would first need to defeat the Royal Navy. That done the line of Martello Towers would next need to be overcome. If they made it past the towers, they would then face the Military Canal.

Started in 1804, it took 4.5 years to construct at a cost of about 19.5 million in today’s money. Napoleon was defeated at Trafalgar in 1805, which pretty much ended his ambitions of invading Britain. So the canal was obsolete by the time it was finished.

Royal Military CanalThere is a break in the man made canal; at Winchelsea where it meets the River Brede and at Iden Lock where it meets the River Rother. The rivers take up the job of being the water barrier. It is the third largest defensive structure in the UK, after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.

Royal Military Canal

A good defensive structure never ages, so when Britain was again under threat of invasion, this time by the Germans, it was again used as part of a network of defences. Pill boxes were constructed along its length, some of which are still around.

Royal Military Canal

The canal continues to serve an important function across Romney Marsh, acting as a source of water for irrigation during the summer and an outlet for flood water during the winter. It is also a haven for wildlife and fish as well as being very picturesque.Royal Military Canal

The View from Rye Church Tower

Rye Church

The view from Rye Church Tower is fantastic and worth experiencing if you ever visit the town. It is accessed from inside the church for a small fee. The climb to the top takes you through very narrow passages and rickety steps. You’ll see an original 15th century clock mechanism, and a full array of the church bells. Interestingly, one of the original bells was stolen during a French raid during the 13th century. It was recovered the following year from Normandy during a raid by men of Rye and Winchelsea and put to use as attack warning bells. There it stayed for nearly 300 years before being restored to the church. The old bells were replaced entirely during the 1700’s and these are the ones on display now.

You can still get a good sense of how the town would have been when it was part of the Cinque Ports even though the landscape has changed substantially since.  The flat land that now makes up Pett Level and Romney Marsh would have been wetlands. The Rother would have been a substantial tidal river, five or six times wider than it is now. This map provides an idea how the land used to look.

These photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Rye Church

Cloud Formations

Cloud FormationsSeveral hefty cloud formations moved across Sussex earlier this week. These were patchy however and blue skies appeared in between the showers. The sun shining on these great formations of cloud created interesting skyscapes. The one moving out over the Channel from Hastings had been delivering wintery showers. These were taken along Pett Level.

These clouds looked very dramatic. They had delivered wintry showers to Hastings during the day, so perhaps the cold and the wind and the heat from the sun affected how they formed. I think though that with a little imagination, you could imagine these photos depict a meteor striking the sea.

Both images can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Cloud Formations

Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain MemorialThe Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent was built in 1993. The site is built on the White Cliffs and commands excellent views over the Channel and Folkestone. The memorial centre piece is a statue of a pilot, placed in the centre of a huge propeller created with paving stones. At the rear is a memorial wall with the names of all the ‘Few’ that were involved in the battle on the Allied side.Battle of Britain Memorial 3

A new visitor centre opened last year and offers an overview of the battle and a ‘Scramble’ experience to help people imagine what being a pilot was like during the battle, if a walk though and sound effects can ever achieve that.Battle of Britain Memorial 4

This photograph shows a great view of the area from above, and gives a good idea of the layout and design. Also on site are full size replicas of a Spitfire and Hurricane. The presence of the replica planes adds an important context to the memorial and provide a big impact on the children visiting the site.Battle of Britain Memorial

Each of these photos can be viewed full size on Flickr by clicking on them.

The Flooded Rother

River RotherThe recent heavy rain has been too much for the river Rother, which has overflowed its banks. This flooding is not unusual, and happens every year. These photographs were taken near Wittersham, Kent.

River Rother

The morning was calm after the most recent rain moved off, leaving a patchy mist through which the sun struggled to shine. Of course these conditions are perfect for taking photographs.

River Rother

A family of swans were enjoying a morning swim, moving silently up the river and foraging for food. Looking up river, away from the rising sun, the scene looked much bleaker. The mist was thicker and made the landscape seem more mysterious. The grey mist made it appropriate for a black and white image.

River Rother

All of these images and more can be viewed on my Flicker page. Just click on them to go there.

A Walk on the Beach

West MarinaA walk on the beach is always nice but on certain days it can be magical. When this photo was taken the tide was at its lowest and there wasn’t a breath of wind. Usually there is the constant noise of the waves breaking on the shingle. The noise of the waves and shingle is one of dominant sensory inputs when you are on the beaches of Hastings and St Leonards. It is only because the sound is constant that no one that lives by the sea particularly notices it.

It was quiet on this day though. It’s strange how the absence of noise can make a familiar place seem different. You could hear the distant sound of traffic on the road and the occasional cry of a seagull. These sounds seemed muted though. The quiet emphasised the beauty of the scene with the clear reflections in the wet sand and still rock pools. The feeling of space. That’s why living by the sea is great.

The photo can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on it.

Rye Bay

Rye BaySometime ago I was walking along the access road that runs between Winchelsea Beach and Rye Harbour. When walking in places I visit often I’m always on the look out for new perspectives to avoid taking the same photograph. The weather and time of day can offer plenty of variety to a scene, but a view across Rye Bay to Dungeness Power Station is still the same view no matter the weather.

About halfway along I noticed that someone had placed a large rock on top of one of the groynes. There was something about the composition of the two that was appealing to me.

I wondered for a while who placed the stone there and why. Perhaps the person wanted to create a different photograph themselves, or maybe to paint the view. I think it was deliberately placed for a reason, rather than someone sticking it there thoughtlessly. Whatever the reason it worked for me. I certainly wouldn’t have thought of creating a beach sculture to add a feature to a scene.

It’s something I’ll bear in mind for the future though.

You can view this scene of Rye Bay full size on my Flickr page by clicking on it.