Travelling by Train on the Coastal Culture Trail
Photo Credit: Katie Lineker
There is something beautifully old fashioned about taking the train. Even amongst the electric barriers, the whirl of the electric engine, the crackle of the tannoy, you are standing on a platform looking into the past. The warm Victorian timber canopy politely sheltering you from the elements, the painted intricate detail in colours from a time gone by, you could be forgiven for picturing sweethearts alighting, embracing each other, throwing their worn leather suitcases to one side.
Today’s train travel tends to be less romantic, associated with the commute, shuffled along, packed in, trying to grab enough space to open the newspaper, giving up and just hoping you make it to your stop without falling over awkwardly into a stranger.
The Coastal Culture Trail, however, puts the romance back into train travel. With ease, efficiency, and affordability, it truly is a wonderful way to travel the journey from Victorian Eastbourne to historic Hastings, via 1930’s Bexhill.
The coastal train line takes you within reaching distance of the sea. Racing past the pebbled beaches, windsurfers and beach huts, it is a chance to take in the landscape from a different viewpoint. Having someone else effortlessly whisk you toward your destination allows you the time to pause, take in the stunning coastal landscape, and take out the Coastal Culture Trail map to plan your day.
Orientation by train station is a perfect place to start, often dropping you in the heart of the town you are visiting. This is the case in Eastbourne, giving you the opportunity to explore the streets, cafes, galleries, and open spaces as you meander your way to the award winning Towner Art Gallery.
Arriving at a train station allows you to drink in the atmosphere and vibe of a town before you exit the doors, and start discovering it for yourself. Taking a moment to pause and observe, you will soon pick up on the pace – are people dashing around in suits and trainers trying to make their next meeting – or are they slowly organising their bag and contemplating a coffee, and let’s face it, a pastry from the kiosk – which is exactly what I found myself doing at Bexhill station before heading out and turning right towards the sea.
Arriving at Bexhill train station is a calming step back into a by-gone era. Bexhill-on-Sea gives a relaxing pace, suited to the 30’s architecture, rows of vintage shops, and busy independent high streets. Nothing awakes your inner child more than spotting the sea, and strolling down from the train station is no exception. The stunning, and much awarded, De La Warr Pavilion is situated right on the beach, fronted by gorgeous lawns, and tempting colonnades. An ideal spot for a cup of tea and slice of cake overlooking the English Channel.
One of the many advantages of taking the train is time. Knowing exactly when you will be arriving at your destination means more time for exploring each wonderful town. At Hastings, I took advantage of this by soaking up the twisting streets of the Old Town and getting lost amongst the iconic, jet black weatherboarded net huts. Buying freshly caught fish directly from the local fishing boats on the doorstep of the cutting edge Hastings Contemporary really reminds you of where you are.
Travelling the Coastal Culture Trail by train means you can visit all three galleries, and absorb the best of these great towns, all in one day. Taking the train is a greener, hassle free way to travel, leaving you with time to take in the vibrancy and grandeur of Eastbourne, the calm and pace of Bexhill, and the history of Hastings.
I have fallen back in love with train travel, perhaps today’s train travel does have an air of romance about it after all.
You can find out more, and book your train tickets on the Coastal Culture Trail website here
By Katie Lineker
Posted by Max Mowbray on Friday 2 July 2021