Taking the bus for a walk!

Walkers of Hastings who rely on public transport to get to the meeting point, and home again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Battle circular using part of 1066 Country Walk

Approx 4 miles Mostly woodland and open views (Hastings Strollers enjoyed this walk on May 25, 2010)

Transport Bus route 304/305 approx hourly from Hastings station/ Warrior Square/ Silverhill Monday to Saturday; route 95 approx hourly Monday to Friday from conquest/ The Ridge. Trains 2 or 3 an hour 7 days a week – but allow for 10 minute walk from Battle Station and the start of the walk.

Note site of medieval bullring laid in centre of “Green.” Walk across front of Abbey Gatehouse (14th century: one of the best surviving medieval monastic gate houses in Britain – English Heritage) and go down the path as though going to the carpark, noticing on the way the 15th century Wealden hall house now “Pilgrims Rest” restaurant:

    “Originally a guest house outside the gates of Battle Abbey. C15 timber-framed
    building of Wealden type consisting of a recessed centre and wings with their
    first floor overhanging on the protruding ends of the floor joists. The whole
    front is close studded except the north wing which is wholly plastered on the
    ground floor .... Casement windows and one oriel window of 6 lights with
    transom on the first floor. Pointed doorway with original iron-studded door.
    Good moulded crown post roof in hall
    .” (English Heritage)

continue past the entry to the carpark to the gate at the bottom of the path

Take the solid path heading left following the edge of the wood. Keep going alongside the wood on your left side. There is a well defined ditch on your right for a bit. Pass through a half-gate along the way, then woods on both sides. At the 3-way signpost (marked for the 1066 Country Walk) take the right-hand fork to follow a clear grassy track across the field – lovely views – as it drops down towards woods.

Near the bottom of the slope there is an interesting-looking depression on the left, any ideas?, then the track levels out and reaches a gate and stile. Go through or over into a pine plantation. The path continues through the trees, past free-range pigs, crossing a stream via a small bridge on the way. Then, just before a house called Farthings, take a waymarked stile on your left into a large field. Follow the clear path through the centre of the field making for the stile at the other side.

Climb the stile to enter coppiced woodland. Keep following the woodland track, past Farthing Pond, a large sheet of water on your right. Just off the track to the left are the remnants of water-powered gunpowder works.

    Gunpowder mill, first recorded 1676, working until 1874. Pond bay still visible but no remains of buildings visible on the site. The works stood within the wooded area to the east of Farthing Pond. The incorporating mills are believed to have been buried when the pond was reinstated in the 1920s. Until a few years ago two pairs of stone grindling-runners lay on view at the site of Farthing Mill but when the millpond was cleared of mud the stones were tipped over the dam and now lie buried in several feet of mud. (National Monuments Record.) [http://sias.pastfinder.org.uk/news01-41/news31.pdf]

The track takes you over a plank bridge then up a good path, rather steep for a bit. There are some more intriguing lumps and bumps in the ground to the left just before the path reaches the road.

Cross the road and continue going in the same direction up the “private road” to Millers Farm opposite: it is a public footpath. Keep going until you reach the main farm buildings.

On the left is a house called Badger’s Keep. Go through the gates beside it; at the signpost take the left track across the field, passing the house, go over the stile at the edge of the field, and turn right down the path. Keep going: the path leads onto a bank - forming the old pond bay for the gunpowder mill - which carries on until meeting the road/ bridleway by Stone Cottage.

Turn right passing attractive buildings on both sides, including Peppering Eye on the right. Beyond this beside the road on the left is a bridge over a stream, at the site of another gunpowder works.

    Known as Pepper-in-Eye Mill and one of a series of 5 gunpowder mills on the Asten stream, which were in operation from 1676-1874. Bloomery (? Roman) at Peppering-Eye? In 1925, during drainage work a solid bed of cinder was found c 3ft thick covered by 3ft of garden soil. A fragment of Samian embedded in a piece of vitrified brick suggests a Roman date. (National Monuments Record)

If you’d like a pretty spot for a sit down, carry on up the road a short while to reach a wood on the left. There are interesting lumps and bumps amidst the trees – possibly ore pits? (David Padgham.) Continue the walk by retracing steps back to Peppering Eye farm oast: Single round kiln oast house, missing the top of tarred conical roof and cowl. (Oast House Archive – though works in progress June 2010 to restore?) and observe just after it on the left a stream and low bank, part of a dam for the gunpowder works.

Carry on the same way past stone cottage until reaching the road junction. Turn left, following the road a short distance to the Powdermill Lane junction; there cross the road and go up the bank crossing the stile to join the path ahead. Follow the path to the top, keeping the hedge on your right.

Go over the stile into the next field, and keep going as the path leads down the slope and up again. There are trees on the right and beyond them views of the site of the Battle of Hastings.

Although the battle has left no visible traces on the landscape nor have any remains been found, its location and the main events are known from a variety of historical sources. (National Monuments Record.)

At the top of the hill you reach the first signpost passed on the way out. Turn right, keeping the woods on your right hand, and walk past curious cows back to the Abbey.

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