Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
July 14, 2014 -- Day 29, Eastbourne to Battle, 9 miles
in what is known locally as 1066 Country – named for the year in which William
the Conqueror (the 7th Duke of Normandy) defeated King Harold (who may
have been a Saxon king, whose ancestors probably defaulted into power when the
Romans left after having stolen the island from the picts and other neo-lithic
folks, who were probably minding their own business. Has anybody ever used a
chart to diagram who became what when, where and how?) Anyway, William named himself king, and because
his forces had killed King Harold, there wasn’t anybody around who wanted to
challenge him, so king he became.
the Conqueror’s great conquest is known as the Battle of Hastings, and is
probably more well-known than Waterloo, Trafalgar, Culloden or Gettysburg.
Funny thing, though, the battle wasn’t at Hastings. The battle took place at Battle,
my destination for today, quite some distance from Hastings. I suppose that
naming the event the Battle of Battle just wouldn’t sound right.
is a long distance footpath that purports to trace William’s route across the
countryside as he subdued everybody who didn’t want to call him king, and that
footpath is called the 1066 Country Walk. It runs from near Eastbourne, through
Battle, Icklesham, Winchelsea, and into Rye. There is a spur that connects
Bexhill to Battle. Oddly, the 1066 Country Walk doesn’t pass through Hastings.
Walk seems to be waymarked better than the routes designated by names like “public
footpath”, but the waymarking is not nearly as good as on national trails. Today,
I walked the spur from Bexhill to Battle. The day was beautiful, and the
route-finding was just challenging enough to keep the walk exciting, without
thoughts of having to summon search and rescue.
Horses ignoring me
Swans and Cygnets
is a touristy town, with most tourists coming by bus or train. I didn’t see
anybody on foot all day, except for a few dog walkers.
from the tea room, the big tourist spot is Battle Abbey, which William built
between 1070 and 1094 as penance ordered by the Pope to atone for the loss of
life in the conflict. As usual, I didn’t have time to tour either the Abbey or
the tea room.