I decided, on a whim, to take a day trip to Rye from London a couple of weekends ago. The weather forecast was inconclusive between rain and sunshine, but I had been hankering for a good excuse to leave London for a bit of a breather and visiting Rye sounded like it would do the trick. I had never been there, or even heard of it until a couple of months ago, but was quite quickly drawn to the promise of good hikes and unique landscapes.
The trip didn’t start off well. What should’ve been a 1.5 hour or so train ride from St. Pancras (with a change in Ashford International) turned out to take over an hour longer as the train I had planned to take was randomly cancelled once I got to the station. Upon my arrival in Rye, a light drizzle had started, which wasn’t ideal, but temperatures were fairly warm so I decided to head out on a long walk instead of taking the safe option of staying in a cafe.
Before heading out into the nature reserve, I took a detour to West Street and Mermaid Street, a couple of cobble stoned streets with some classic houses. I think Mermaid Street in particular is one of the most photographed streets in all of UK…and it’s not hard to see why with its well-maintained and somewhat quirky buildings.
From Mermaid Street, I walked out by the Rye Heritage Centre before taking the A259, crossing over the River Brede to head south at the first opportunity. Having to share the A259 with cars and other vehicles is a little annoying, but once I was on the grassy fields of the Reserve, it really was a rather quiet route, with hardly anyone else around. Beware of all the sheep droppings though, as you head towards the remote Camber Castle.
Camber Castle was closed on that day, but I was content just to have the chance to explore its exterior. With the plan being to do one big loop back to Rye town, solely by walk, I didn’t spend too long here, and continued on my walk towards the sea, passing by numerous lakes and shingle ridges along the way.
The few people I saw at the castle soon disappeared, as I took what seemed like the path less travelled towards the sea (I think it was the quickest route). The weather at this point had turned a little blustery, which I actually quite liked, especially once I reached the beach. It all seemed a little wild, reminding me of a classic, tragic, English novel, much like Wuthering Heights. 😀
Following the road by the coast, I soon reached the River Rother, catching glimpses of the Camber Sands on the other side. It was getting a little late in the day now, and I still had some distance to walk to return back to the Rye town centre, so I reluctantly made my way straight back, rather than trying to make a detour towards Camber and its sand dunes. (A shame as they look so pretty in photos!)
Now I have to warn other travellers that the walk back to town isn’t the most exciting (you just pass by lots of industrial estate along the way), and a car would’ve been super handy at this point. Still, at least it wasn’t chucking down with rain at this point, so I could at least, be thankful for that.
All in all, I spent about 4 hours continuously walking around the town and nature reserve of Rye. It’s a small but beautiful part of UK, and I’m glad I managed to explore it in person. It’s a shame I didn’t have the time (or the good weather) to see Camber and the Camber Sands, but it at least provides me with a good excuse to come back to this part of the UK at some other time.
Have you been to Rye? What about Camber?