Hastings Country Park
Hastings Country Park consists of over 660 acres (267 hectares) lying within the High Weald area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The majority of the park has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a proposed Nature Reserve. The area includes ancient woodland and grassland together with dramatic coastline and cliffs spanning 5 kilometres.
The cliff vegetation is often diverse and includes rare plants such as thrift and hoary stock. Acid grassland, heathland, freshwater marsh and ancient gill woodlands are all found along this unique area of Sussex coast. The gill woodlands, Fairlight Glen and Ecclesbourne Glen are of national importance as home to some very sensitive mosses and rare liverworts. The woodland areas are also home to an important population of dormice. The Glens are particularly outstanding in the spring with an amazing display of bluebells, wood anenomes and yellow archangels that cover the floor of the woodland.
Bird watching is outstanding at Hastings Country Park with Dartford warblers, stonechats and yellowhammers nesting amongst the heathlands. Fulmar, black redstarts and perigrines nest on the cliffs. A show of bird migration can be seen here including brent geese and common scoter migration in the spring and swollow, house martin and woodpigeon migration in the autumn. Lots of continental birds and insects use the site while migrating, such as wryneck, red-rumped swallow, palla's. warbler, and Berger's clouded yellow butterfly have been spotted within the last few years.
Many rare insects can be found in the heathland, cliffs, cliff top grassland and woodland areas. Many different ground nesting bees, wasps and beetles including the rare bee-wolf and minataur beetle. The sandy cliffs are home to a large population of grey bush-crickets and the only tarantula-type spider found in Britain, the purse-web spider.
Various pottery fragments and flint tools have been recovered from the park including the remains of Stone Agem Iron Age and Romano-British settlements. The East Hill is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument because of the Iron Age Hill Fort that once overlooked the busy Hastings port c400BC. A windmill also existed near the cliffs.
Smugglers used the park area in the 18th and early 19th century, using makeshift pulleys known as Derricks to winch their contraband up the face of the cliffs and into the arms of the waiting tubmen who would spirit the illicit goods away into the night.
The main car park and Visitor Centre. Excellent views to France and Dover across a panoramic colourful heathland.
This glen was once farmed by Stone Age man and has great historical importance. The name came about because it was used as a free rabbit warren between 1254 and 1317. Warren Glen has an impressive show of spring flowers.
Many interesting plants plants and animals together with the popular Victorian attraction The Dripping Well, from which John Logie Baird is said to have drawn inspiration for inventing television. The romantic Lovers Seat was located near here but due to erosion only a stone is left in its place.
Heavily wooded with many ferns and mosses, Ecclesbourne Glen was the landing place and entrance to an Iron Age Hill Fort. A coastguard tower was built here in 1819 but has long since been moved to the Firehills.
Amazing views over Hastings Old Town, the East Hill is an important historical and archaelogical site. Barbeque facilities are provided.
Fairlight Road Picnic Site (The Helipad)
A quiet area located off Fairlight Road, ideal for picnics and barbecues with facilities provided.
Named after Frederick North, a former Hastings Mayor and local MP, this is the highest point above sea level in Hastings and provides fine views over Wealden Sussex.
The Visitor Centre
History, geology and wildlife displays are available in the Visitor Centre, which is open every day except Mondays and Wednesday mornings. You may check opening times of the Visitor Centre on 01424 812140.
The country park lies to the east of Hastings Old Town and can be accessed by road with suggested car parks at Rock-a-Nore, Barley Lane, Fairlight Road picnic site, and the main entrance in Coastguard Lane. Access by foot as available from a multitude of locations around the country park.