The cliffs on this section of the Sussex coast are a mixture of sandstone and clay, and are so prone to erosion that the cliff edge at Fairlight is receding at the rate of 25 metres a year, threatening the homes and gardens of the mainly retired residents. A newspaper report from 2004 described how the villagers were locked in battle with English Nature, which was reluctant to allow any defences to be built on the site because as it happens Fairlight sits on top of one of Britain’s most important dinosaur fossil sites, housing the 135-million-year-old remains of crocodile, pterosaurs and dinosaur footprints. The erosion of the cliff face allows easy access to these treasures. The country park here is characterised by the hills known as Firehills, which may have been so called because of the yellow gorse which covers them in Spring, or alternatively due to the fact that at the turn of the century the area was used for practice firings by the local gun battery. The downs around here were captured on canvas by William Holman Hunt in his painting Fairlight Downs, Sunlight On The Sea.
Map of the area.