A man searches for lug worms as the sun rises over Pett Level beach. The darker areas in the foreground are the fossilised remains of a 6,000 year old forest.
Along with the Pier the Harbour Arm is the other major feature of Hastings beach front. It has featured in some of my posts already and will again. During construction in the 1890’s engineers found that the sea bed where the harbour arm ends changed from stable sandstone and gravel to the unstable mud of an old river bed. Faced with sprialling costs the project was abandoned. Although not completed the arm has helped build the long shingle beach that stretches between it and the pier. To see the difference 120 years makes compare this picture to this one here. That’s what longshore drift does.
In a recent post of mine I provided a link that explained the action of longshore drift. Although it’s not something most people notice or care about, it has profoundly changed the coastline in Sussex and the economic prospects of Hastings and the surrounding area.
There are three large stone castles along the coast here, Pevensey Castle near Eastbourne, Hastings Castle and Camber Castle. All three were built to protect landing areas and ports. Hastings and Rye in particular were key trade and military ports between 1066 and 1300 due to their proximity to France. Both towns would have been rich and of high status. What would they be like now if their harbours hadn’t silted up?
All though the great storms that occured in the 12th century contibuted greatly to their demise, the slow and steady work of longshore drift sealed their fate.
These photos show how the sea acts upon the shingle. Splash, drag and push is all it does, and through such work changes the fortunes of communities.
The RSPB website describes the Herring Gull as ‘large noisy gulls’ and mentions twice that they can be found near to rubbish tips. If the RSPB struggles to find something nice to say about them you know that it’s not the most loved of birds. Interestingly it says their numbers have declined over the past 25 years, yet there are still 750,000 of them in the UK during the winter. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are in Hastings.
The sun was beginning to set when these were taken, bringing out the lovely colour of the wet wood and iron work of the groynes at Glyne Gap. Groynes are designed to slow down the relentless action of longshore drift. To be instantly taken back to your GCSE Geography courses this short YouTube clip provides an excellent explanation of what longshore drift is. More interesting than the clip is the comments left by viewers. I never knew the subject could create such emotion. Click the images to view full size in Flickr.
It had recently stopped raining and the stiff breeze was driving the clouds across the Channel. The large building is Marine Court , and the pier can just be seen peeking above the shingle.
If you walk around the firehills you may come across this memorial bench. It makes a good resting spot for those that have climbed the steep hill to get there. I think these benches are a better memorial than a gravestone. They are in the public eye at all times (at least to those who can be bothered to walk there) and serve a useful purpose. The wording on this bench expresses how loved Margaret Sutton was, more so than many other memorial benches which often say something like ‘he sat here quite a lot’ or something similar.
The Firehills are to the east of Hastings, near to Fairlight. The Firehills are probably named after the gorse bushes that are common there, either because of its alternative name – furze, or because gorse burns easily or both!Â It is part of Hastings Country Park and offers great views across Rye Bay, as shown in one of my previous posts. The picture above shows the Coastguard Station and cottages, most of which are now privately owed.
This was taken from the cliffs at the southern edge of the park. The cliffs are eroding, and there are regular land slips all along this part of the coast. At Fairlight several houses have been lost to the sea, although major defenses have been erected to prevent that, which can be seen if you view the Google map link above, and follow the cliffs east wards.