Pett Level & Winchelsea Beach

Pett Level is a small village on the coast between Hastings and Rye. It has a shingle beach, with an expanse of sand at low tide. At Cliff End, at the western end of the beach, it is possible to see the stumps of ancient trees that are part of a sunken forest dating back 6,500 years, when sea levels were much lower than they are today. This is thought to be one of the UK’s largest sunken forests, and would have formed a coastal woodland stretching from Rye Harbour to Bexhill. A little further on, it is possible to see fossils and even dinosaur footprints, exposed by the crumbling cliffs.

Image: Shirley Lancaster

Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) nest on the cliffs here, by the beach where Strandliners started. The grey and white Fulmar may look like a gull, but you can spot the difference by its stiff-winged flight and by its beak. It belongs to a group of birds called ‘tubenoses’, which includes albatrosses and petrels. The Northern Fulmar is defined by OSPAR as an indicator species of plastic pollution and has been widely studied for plastic ingestion. This is the reason Strandliners has the Fulmar as its logo.

Pett Level marks the end of the Royal Military Canal which runs for 28 miles to Hythe, built as a defence against a possible invasion by Napoleon. Behind the beach, the nearby Pett Pools are large shallow lakes and reedbeds which attract an enormous variety of both breeding and overwintering wildfowl and waterbirds.

Pett Level has an independent lifeboat based in Pett Level, serving the coastline and inland waters between Hastings and Rye in East Sussex. Founded in 1970, PLIRB is entirely self-funded, and managed and operated by a team of dedicated volunteers.

The video to David Bowie’s iconic Ashes To Ashes was filmed here (watch on YouTube).

Strandliners undertakes regular surveys for the Marine Conservation Society at both Pett Level and Winchelsea Beach, as part of the Great British Beach Clean. You can see the results by clicking on the buttons below.