Hastings to Winchelsea is probably the best day hike near London. It’s a beautiful route and one that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy – three times now – in glorious sunshine.
For my second walk, Louise and I caught the train from Charring Cross in central London and arrived in Hastings at 11am. As with many towns, the area around the station is not very attractive. But as you wind your way down towards the sea and through the pedestrianised streets of the old town it starts to get very pretty.
We left the old town and walked upwards onto the cliffs and towards Firehills. The view is glorious from the get go and you’re able to look far out across the English Channel and along the coastline.
The first few miles wind along the cliff edge and through a pretty forested area with bluebells and other wild flowers. For those brave enough to give it a go there is a nudist beach along the way at about mile three – on my third walk of this route I took the plunge!
After the nudie beach, the coastal views continue to be stunning for the next three or four miles.
At about mile five you can take a small detour to the Coastguards Cafe. Here you can get lunch, cakes and even beer. Louise and I got a delicious pale ale and some crisps and sat in the shade for a little while.
The next stretch of the walk sees you head down to sea level, passing some absolutely beautiful houses along the way. After a little while you come across a sweet little church and arrive at a surprising quiet beach, where we stopped for a while.
From here you cut inland and across some fields, following a canal for a few more miles, and getting steadily further away from the coastline.
Once you leave the canal the route takes you along a country lane, past some lamb – filled fields and under an ancient archway before arriving in Winchelsea. It is a seriously picturesque little village with an absolutely beautiful church that is home to Spike Milligan’s grave.
We’d planned to stop just for a quick drink at The New Inn, but the walled garden, Pinot Grigio and fish and chips was too tempting. So, we spent a brilliant couple of hours there before heading back to Hastings feeling rather merry.
About the hike
- Around 9 miles
- Sussex, England
- Fairly challenging, especially the first five miles
- Around six hours walking (excluding stops)
- Food and water – plenty of options in Hastings, The Coastguard Cafe at c. 5 miles and The New Inn in Winchelsea.
- Travel to Hastings from Stratford, London Bridge or Charring Cross (Stratford involves a change at Ashford and a more expensive ‘high speed’ ticket).
- Return options include:
- Buying an open return to Hastings, then getting a bus (£6.20) back from Winchelsea (usually one an hour) or taxi (c. £12). Plan ahead a little for both. You can also get a train from Winchelsea to Hastings (around one an hour)
- High speed return train from Winchelsea, changing at Ashford.