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Sep 2018

Distance 5 miles Strenuousity 2.

East Sussex Coat of Arms

It would be a surprise if you were to ever tire of Rye but here's a suggestion to vacate for the afternoon until the day-trippers have tootled off and the narrow lanes aren't nearly so rammed.

Starting at the river in Rye and heading south by an uneventful road to Rye Harbour, the action soon accelerates with shingle, salt marsh and some of Henry VIII's handiwork.

ROMNEY MARSH, RYE & WINCHELSEA - Tenterden & New Romney

There's no real need for your OS X125, the waymakers are all but visible from a distance so you'd have to be a complete idiot to lose your bearings but more on that in a minute.

Rye's harbour used to be a lot closer to town but a succession of storms in the 13th century changed the course of the River Rother. That caused the sea to head south, you see, and the ships with it, but by the early 1800s there was just enough here, and just enough distance, for the village to claim it's own name.

It's only a five-minute drive from Rye or you can hitch a lift on the unmistakeable  Fairmile 'B' RML[1], obviously. These pre-fabricated frigates[2] did their bit in the English Channel during World War II and this one is number 526.

They didn't build that many more and this is one of only a few left but you'll have to wait for that lift. The restoration work looks to have dried right up, as dry as today's River Brede, actually.

[1] Rescue Motor Launch, obviously.
[2] More your mini-destroyer, really, but not so good alliteratively.

  The River Haven Hotel (Winchelsea Road)

While you're waiting for them to finish the restoration, enjoy some restorative liquids on their outdoor seating that's right on the river.

If you're heading from Rye without wheels, a path runs parallel to the road and just about avoids the industrial estate.

It's along this type of terrain there's a warning not to eat the ripe-looking blackberries, something to do with 'Contaminated Land', it says here.

Laced with old arsenic, it's now known, which is a bit of a shame because this runs into the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve but more on that in a minute.

There's a dad with his two lads coming the other way... 'Of course you can eat them, it never did me any harm.' Something should have said been said, really, so it's a relief to hear nothing on the local news that night.

The village of Rye Harbour is home to around 500 people and at least that number of starlings.

By the look of their big car park, there are 10 times that number of visitors in summer with a pair of pubs and a couple of caffs for the weary travellers, people that is, not the starlings.

  William the Conqueror

He may have landed 20 miles west at Pevensey Bay but Willie Conker stopped over in Rye on his way to some outstanding business in Battle. This is the pick of the pair of pubs with a bit of Greek going on with their menu. Amazingly, this is the only pub in Sussex with this name, it's thought, and that includes Wetherspoon™s.

 Martello tower number 28 is one of more than 100 constructed along this stretch of coast and all the way up into Suffolk. Built, of course, in the early 1800s to stop Napoleon, no less, from including the UK in his European vacation plans.

This one now guards the entrance to a caravan park and gives a hint at just how much the sea has retreated.

In just 200 years, the sea has shifted nearly a mile but you can get at it along what could be called a causeway. Highlights include a couple of birdwatching hides, if you're that way inclined, and a swarm of nutjobs doing some para-aqua-surf-fly-sailing, or something, off Camber Sands[1].

It's now known to be called Kiteboarding and these beginners haven't quite got the bottle yet for Beachy Head.

[1] It's not known if they do it at  Waikīkī.

The entrance to Rye Harbour is just a narrow channel guarded by a jetty, really, and suggests there's not an awful lot really going on here, harbour-wise.

The shingle beach is much as expected but there's a reminder of some recent discouragement to those wanting to drop anchor.

28,000 pillboxes were built around the British coast during World War II but, unlike the Martello tower, and the mini-destroyer, there's no idea what number this one is.

That shingle's a right calf-killer but, thankfully, there's a Tarmac™ access road that heads into the heart of the  Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

Don't be put off by 'Nook Drain' and 'Rye Harbour Sewer', they're just channels that cut through the salt marsh that was left behind when the sea receded.

They've managed some paths between the pits or ponds if you'd rather, and the 'teasel' is good for goldfinch, it's said. No sign of them, however, nor nothing much else, neither, not unless you've never seen a swan or a cormorant.

Now, you'd have to be a complete idiot to lose your bearings in here but it's certain that marked track back at those farm buildings was closed off.

If you do find yourself well on the way to Winchelsea, navigate your escape via some trees and Bredeside Farm to head roughly north to Rye. It's just over a mile back to where this all started but hang on a minute! Is that a largely intact artillery fort that looks to date from around 1540?

That'll be Camber Castle, of course, one of Henry VIII's, no less.

Built during those seemingly endless ding-dongs with the French, it wouldn't be long until the coastline receded and this defunct defence was left looking forlorn and folly-like in the field.

You're not allowed in and it's said by a couple of young 'uns that they padlock the gates because people were 'sleeping' in it.

 English Heritage™ didn't view the situation quite so innocently and it's guided tours only although it's been used as the backdrop for the annual Rye Arts Festival today.

Avoid some cows and enjoy the big gardens backing onto the River Brede before returning back to Rye via a clogged-up sluice gate. Regular readers, both of you, may have noticed a lack of pictorial detail in the latter stages with some of these pics even nicked from elsewhere.

Despite an overnight charge, these camera batteries are as flat as a coastal nature reserve. That's them done, it's thought, so they might as well be disposed of in this ditch here. Ditched in a ditch right next to a big, blackberry bush, actually.

What's the problem? It'll be fine as long as nobody eats them, eh?

Fauna Saw...

What Number Behaviour  
Cormorant 1 Standard.
Cows Herd Avoidable.
Starling Many Nearly enough for a murmuration.
Swan 1 Standard.