I like to discover new places for walks and love to swim in secluded bays. So staying in Hastings this April with my kids, we set off in search of Fairlight Glen Beach, a hidden bay. Its not mentioned on OS Maps but is actually just next to Black Rock, Covehurst Bay. Luckily Google maps and local signage both refer to Fairlight Glen and Fairlight Glen Beach in the right places.
I had seen this beach described on walking websites but not found it before. But once you know the beach sign you are looking for, it’s easy.
Following the Saxon Way coastal path in Hastings Country Park about 1.5 miles from Hastings old town and Fairlight, the route descends down into Fairlight Glen. At the bottom of the dip is a fence with a gap and a sign about going to the beach at your own risk. And it’s well worth it.
A landslip destroyed the path some years ago so there is an unofficial path including a rather fun roped section as demonstrated below. We didn’t find the path as difficult as described online and didn’t really need to use the rope provided on the steep section, but it was fun to try.
The path is rough but well maintained by a local naturist who you may spot wandering naked round the cove, carrying a spade. We saw him and it confused us at the time. What could he be doing? But he does a good job of making sure the path is safe enough to follow.
The beach was recognised as a naturist beach in 1978 although it had been known for this for some time already. Fairlight Glen Beach enjoyed official status for a couple of decades but lost this status in 1999.
The beach is lovely, very secluded, rocky and sheltered, hence popular with naturists as no one can see you from the path above. But everyone is welcome here, clothed or not.
At low tide you can walk straight into the sea but otherwise it can be quite rocky getting in so sea shoes are advised, you may have to clamber and crawl over submerged rocks to get in.
It is possible to walk all the way along the beach to Petts Level, but this is over 2.5miles away. We didn’t try this but it is pretty rocky and it would definitely need to be done on a falling tide by surefooted people. there used to be a footpath but this has been washed away.
My kids loved the beach and said it felt very Mediterranean, although my younger daughter was a little embarrassed by all the bodies on display. The naturists however didn’t seem to be confined entirely to the beach. Well away from the Cove, a man wearing nothing but a hat, beads and boots strode past us happily very near the top of East Hill.
We assume he must have popped in the bushes soon after to get changed as we saw him later sitting outside a café in Hasting old town wearing nothing but Hawaiian shorts, and a big smile.