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Going the long way round: the route chosen by Natural England to bypass the out-of-bounds are of the Country Park (image: ).

Going the long way round: the route (marked in red) chosen by Natural England to bypass the out-of-bounds area of the Country Park (image: Natural England/Ordnance Survey Crown Copyright).

England Coast Path goes kinky in Hastings Country Park

The landslip below Rocklands caravan park has obliged Natural England to go the long way round to accommodate the Hastings Country Park section of the coastal path, as Andrew Colquhoun, vice chair of the Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, explains.

The England Coast Path is intended to be the longest managed and way-marked coastal path in the world. It is a big and bold idea, one enshrined in law. When completed the path will stretch all around England’s coast for an amazing 2,795 miles (4,500 km). Natural England, the governmental agency master-minding the project, expects to complete its work in 2020. Some stretches of the path are already open, for example from Camber eastwards to Ramsgate.

The bit which runs from Eastbourne through Hastings to Camber is still officially described as “Proposals in development”. With the completion date for the path in sight next year, it ought to be a matter of pride for Hastings that it will run through the Country Park, as our town’s green jewel in the crown, its major Local Nature Reserve, and part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But this is where things are at risk of getting kinky. And it’s all due to that landslip in Ecclesbourne Glen below Rocklands caravan park several years ago. That bit of path is still subject to a closure order from East Sussex County Council, as the local authority responsible for public footpaths. And there is no sign that Natural England feels able or willing to challenge the county council to get that stretch of path restored so that it can take its natural place as part of the England Coast Path.

Alternative route

Instead, Natural England has published a proposed alternative route with a great kink in it as walkers are diverted away from the blocked path (see map above or below). So a walker heading east would be directed north of Rocklands caravan park and halfway along Rocklands Lane before taking a dog-leg back to the south-west and eventually rejoining the natural coastal path along cliffs back towards the east.  And, of course, vice versa for someone hiking from the east. The length of the diversion is about twice that of the path directly through Ecclesbourne Glen.

The county council say that that area of the footpath is still likely to slide further – this is what technical reports show, they maintain. Unfortunately, the public have been refused access to the more important of these reports. To the untrained eye, there has been no further slippage in that area in recent years. So how long do the county council want to give it before they are proved wrong? In the meantime, they tell us that they keep the matter “under review”. Or is it just that they don’t want to spend the money for restoration?

The Friends of the Country Park have told Natural England that we are disappointed with their cop-out proposal. And we will use their public consultation later this year or early in 2020 to press again to get the closed footpath reopened, and the kink straightened. We would encourage other local people who love the Country Park to do the same.

Close-up of the path diversion.

Close-up of the path diversion round Rocklands caravan park and eventually back towards the sea.

Posted 14:52 Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019 In: Home Ground

3 Comments


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. Chris Hurrell

    HBC have failed to carry out the recommendations of the geotechnical investigations claiming that they cannot afford the estimated 37k of further investigations.

    Despite this they have spent 32k on legal costs to prevent the release of the full Coffey report. HBC continue to refuse to release any information on drainage and land stability.

    Cllr Chowney praises the park and its history and HBC often cite the Country Park as the “jewel in the crown” yet HBC under his leadership suppress information and won’t lift a finger to take any remedial action to remove the source of the landslip and allow the glen to be reopened.

    The footpaths including the Coastal Path have been closed for 6 years now. There seems to be no possibility they will be reopened.

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Sunday, May 12, 2019 @ 10:15

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    WHAT caused the landslip? Who is going to repair it? Why is the council so reluctant to release the report/s which may throw some light on this disaster?? So many questions and so few answers – not good enough.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, May 7, 2019 @ 12:09

  3. Chris Lewcock

    Is Section 56 of the Highways act 1980 not relevant?

    56
    Proceedings for an order to repair highway.
    (1)
    A person (“the complainant”) who alleges that a way or bridge—
    (a)
    is a highway maintainable at the public expense or a highway which a person is liable to maintain under a special enactment or by reason of tenure, enclosure or prescription, and
    (b)
    is out of repair,
    may serve a notice on the highway authority or other person alleged to be liable to maintain the way or bridge (“ the respondent”) requiring the respondent to state whether he admits that the way or bridge is a highway and that he is liable to maintain it.

    etc

    etc…..

    Comment by Chris Lewcock — Thursday, May 2, 2019 @ 18:10

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