Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has been extended to 800 acres over recent years with the acquisition of low-lying floodland from the Environment Agency. The entire area now comes under the management of Sussex Wildlife Trust. In recent years we have new hides and pools – an even better habitat for birds!
The warden and volunteers organise many and varied walks, talks and events throughout the year for keen birders and novices alike. Everyone is welcome. Included in these in summer week-ends is an exploration of the fascinating Camber Castle (built 1544) which is within the Reserve site.
It is not obligatory to join the Friends of the Reserve but it only costs £10 and the regular newsletters are very informative.
For more information, please visit the Nature Reserve’s website.
The Reserve is accessible from our cottage. Just leave by the back door to the path and turn right. Remember to take a drink and your binoculars. You could be gone for hours!
The William the Conqueror by the river serves food and has a good sized outside area with tables for patrons. The grass bank fronting the pub commands a grandstand view of the river activity.
Also, try The Waterworks on the corner of Rope Walk & Tower Street in Rye, a welcoming, quirky micro-pub.
Whilst in the village itself, if you’re in the right place at the right time you may watch the lifeboat being launched, the call is done by mobile phone now but if you are watching the river or outside the Conquerer pub (out of the front door, turn right, go to the end of the road and turn left) you may have time to watch the lifeboat crew prepare to launch. It’s always interesting to spend time at the Point anyway, watching boats, birds and people.
The Bosun’s Bite Café (9.30 a.m. – 2.30 p.m. daily) is also at the Point, for a cup of tea and a snack – before 11.30 a.m. the breakfast is good value and tasty.
There is a Martello tower in the village built during the Napoleonic wars. Sadly it is not sufficiently safe for visitors now but it’s majestically enduring.
There is also a church in the village with a memorial to the Lifeboat disaster of 1928 in the grounds. The church is simple and charming in its setting and has regular though not frequent services.
The general stores is run by local lad Steve and stocks a wide range of provisions, papers etc.
Rye has oodles of interest for a broad palate of tastes.
The very helpful staff at the Tourist Information Centre by The Strand have extensive information in the shop and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Mary’s church (a few yards away from the Kino) has a belltower which you can walk up and has extensive views seaward from the top and a picturesque view over Rye rooftops, demonstrating how the landscape worked when Rye was an island. The Kino is lovely and has 2 screens with comfortable seating and a bar serving drinks or tea and cakes, indoors our outside.
To the rear of the church are the original cobbled streets leading to Mermaid Street to the right where the ancient Mermaid Hotel has a bar for public use (alcohol or tea/coffee) with an impressive inglenook fireplace.
The oldest pub in Rye is the Bell in the Mint, which is unspoiled and welcoming, serving good food.
Also in Rye is Lamb House (owned by the National Trust) which was home at different times to Henry James (author of The Golden Bowl and The Turn of the Screw) and EF Benson (author of the Mapp & Lucia books, which are based in Rye).
Rye Museum is on two sites, the forbidding Ypres Tower (built 1249) and nearby East Street, which is packed with information and enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff & volunteers.
There is a swimming pool, gym & squash courts at Freedom Leisure, the Grove. When you pay to park, the staff reduce that cost to your entrance ticket.
Rye Hire has road or mountain bikes, tandems, trailers and child seats for hire. As the land surrounding the local towns is flat it makes cycling appealing. Check for costs at www.ryehire.co.uk.
Don’t miss the potteries, antique shops & bric-a-brac sheds, walking tours, smuggler’s stories & more.
To the east of Rye Harbour, the sandy beach and dunes of Camber are infallibly popular with children and adults alike.
There is a circular walk from Rye to Camber, passing the remains of the old tramway & ‘station hut’ en route and skirting the golf links.
The walk starts the other side of Monkbretton Bridge. In Rye, turn right for the footpath before you get to the school. On your way back, cross this bridge again to visit the fresh seafood stall on your left, where the local trawlermen bring their catch to sell.
The golf links at Camber started in 1894 and are a 10 minute drive from the cottage. Usually a private club, golfers who wish to visit are invited to contact the secretary at www.ryegolfclub.co.uk.
Camber also offers an opportunity for kitesurfing. For more information, contact 07960 587482.
Lydd, a little further on from Camber, also has a golf club and welcomes non-members – www.lyddgolfclub.co.uk.
West of Rye Harbour is Winchelsea, a fascinating town which is now a third of its original size.
Set on a hill the town boasts 2 ancient landgates and church of St. Thomas the Martyr. The local archaeological society arrange town tours and cellar tours, which describe how the 56 (not all open at once!) 13th century cellars were used to store wine.
Visit www.winchelsea.net for dates, or the society can arrange private tours. There is also a well-kept museum which holds a wealth of information about the lost sections of the town.
Further west from Rye Harbour is the town of Hastings, with 2 museums, the old town, the Stade and sea front. Hastings is accessible by train from Rye to save driving and parking. We recommend visiting the Stade & Rock-a-nore to see the old net huts & marine museum, catch the funicular car up West Hill, watch the fishing trawlers being drawn back onto land.
The old town works back from the Stade and is worth exploring for historic buildings and, if you take a circular route across the road, antique & bric-brac shops in the High Street, also the First In Last Out pub, recommended by a couple of our regular guests.
George Street leads to the more modern town and sea front where you can have a classic seaside experience, with crazy golf, fish & chips on the beach, and an amusement park.
There is also a museum in Hastings featuring John Logie Baird, as he developed early television during a stay at Hastings in 1925.
For more information, please go to www.visit1066country.com.
16 miles east of Rye Harbour is Dungeness, where the RSPB nature reserve sits under the gaze of the nuclear power station, both of which welcome visitors. The Nature Reserve comprises miles of shingle & scrapes with hides set out in an easy route. The visitor centre’s picture window is very popular in inclement weather!
Nearby is the old Dungeness lighthouse which also welcomes visitors, a climb to the top of the lighthouse rewards with stunning views out to sea and inland.
A more leisurely activity would be a journey on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch light Railway which stops en route between Hythe (well worth a day visit if time allows) & Dungeness. There is a charming station with a café and nearby is the Pilot pub serving meals all day.
A great number of our visitors venture to visit bustling Brighton for a daytrip. There are trains direct from Rye throughout the day. A return ticket costs about £16 and the journey takes 90 minutes.
On the famous sea front there is Sea Life just near the Palace Pier, both of which are worth a visit. Or walk west a little to the Beach Volley ball café, trinket stalls and a quieter piece of beach. Further west is Hove, elegant and more serene but still with plenty to see.
Off the seafront there is ample to do, with the Regency icon of the Royal Pavillion to visit, plenty of cafes and bars, antique & bric-a-brac shops and the Lanes area to explore.
It really is possible to shop ‘till you drop in Brighton, but mooching about in the tiny shops in the Lanes area is a must – especially for jewellery. Also a walking tour takes in the Lanes area and puts the architecture into context of the evolution of Brighton. Walking tours are available on MP3.
More information at www.visitbrighton.com/site/tourist-information.