At Hastings Country Park the balance between the conflicting interests of conservation of the environment and free access to the public for leisure and recreation has not been achieved.
Hastings Country Park was setup along with other country parks in the UK to open up opportunities for recreational activities in the countryside for the public. A country park is defined as an area of land larger than 25 acres. ‘Leisure and Countryside’ was a white paper produced by the government for showing ideas of the development of country parks, this included making it easier for the public to access informal recreation without travelling too far and to control damage of the countryside. Also included was to reduce visitor pressure in the sensitive remote areas. This was successful and became legal for local authorities to develop country parks, part of the Countryside Act. Visitor education also became a part of country parks.
Hastings Country Park is Located to the East of the town with over 267 hectares of ancient woodland and grassland together with 3 miles of dramatic cliffs and coastline. Lying within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, most of the park has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a proposed Local Nature Reserve.
The majority of Hastings Country Park is Part of the Hastings cliffs to Pett beach Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Hastings Country Park was officially recognised as a country park on the 1st of April 1974.
The park was setup by councils in and around Hastings, although the responsibility of managing the park was handed over to the Community and Leisure Department. It is run daily by the park rangers. These park rangers have the job of undertaking conservation and visitor management; work with volunteers and the community; education and interpretation work; regularly run walks and talks and patrolling the park.
Conflicts between conservation and free access mean that it could be detrimental to Hastings Country Park. Visitors must abide by the rules and regulations for the park to run smoothly also there are certain activities that should be acknowledged and are to help you around Hastings Country Park, these are shown with Key Symbols that should be used for your benefit.
Good walking conditions: Relatively flat
Moderate walking conditions: May involve moderate hill walking.
More challenging conditions: May include walking some steep inclines or on the beach, involving slippery surfaces.
Wheelchair or buggy access
Bring a camera
Bring a torch
Great for families
Conservation work task (old clothes essential)
Toilet facilities available
* Go prepared with strong comfortable footwear and waterproofs. Remember that some of the events on the beach are rough terrain and that the footpaths can be steep and muddy in places.
* Dogs are welcome if under control and kept on a lead.
* Children under the age of 16 years must be accompanied by an adult.
* In most cases the events are free although donations are welcome.
* The conservation tasks vary but for all of them you should wear suitable footwear and clothing. Always take waterproofs in case of the weather turning. If staying all day it is advisable to bring a packed lunch and drink as there aren’t many shops around.
Litter is a very serious problem and people are being urged to bin their rubbish following a 20% increase in the number of calls received by the RSPCA about animals trapped or hurt by litter last year. A hedgehog’s head was stuck in a discarded can, a fox had it’s head stuck in a car wheel, a swan poisoned by lead fishing weights with a hook piercing its neck and a duck’s foot chopped off by fishing line, these were all cases needlessly caused by people dropping litter.
Dog Waste is also another problem. It contaminates the ground and becomes a means of passing intestinal parasites and infections to not only dogs but people too. Dogs can be repeatedly reinvested by parasites in this way. Picking it up prevents a great deal of the contamination. Cleaning up can reduce veterinary expenses and might even save on human doctor bills. As well as smell and mess, dog waste is highly offensive to many people in the community. It often becomes a reason to ban dogs from areas. It’s easy to enact a “No Dogs Allowed” rule, but it’s the people who do clean up who suffer.