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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Walk 82 Camber Sands to Rye and Winchelsea Beach (E Sussex)

Walk   82 Camber Sands to Rye and Winchelsea Beach  (East Sussex)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End

Map: L/R 189
Distance: about 11 miles or 16km
Difficulty:  Fairly easy – flat, some beach walking
Terrain: footpaths, pavement, beach
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Bus 100 links Camber Sands to Rye and other towns; Bus 344 links Winchelsea Beach to Rye and other towns (both Mon – Sat check with Traveline).

From Camber, walk east to Jury’s Gut Sluice - an odd name which I have tried to research but with no luck. From this point you can see (and probably hear) the Lydd firing ranges which make the beaches from here to Dungeness too dangerous to walk. Walk back towards Camber along Lydd Road and its views of Broomhill Sands.

Camber Sands is a very popular place for families and wind surfers. Film directors often use it for location filming. For example, the 1962 war film The Longest Day starring Robert Mitchum was filmed here as the setting for the Normandy Beaches. During World War 2 the beach was fortified (some examples can still be seen around the area including alongside the River Rother) and used for military exercises.

It is worth a walk along the sands and alongside the Rother up to the point it enters Rye Bay. However, take care if the tide is coming in as you can get stranded on sand banks. Follow the path northwards back towards Rye, past Rye Harbour and into the town. It is interesting to look around Rye with its cobbled streets and its medieval buildings.

Rye stands at the confluence of the rivers Rother, Tillingham and Brede. In medieval times it was an important port providing ships for the service of the king. In the 18th and 19th centuries smuggling gangs such as the notorious Hawkhurst Gang used inns such as The Mermaid and Old Bell Inn – making use of secret passages. Apart from the general charm of the town, attractions such as the Castle Museum and Lamb House provide an informative background to its history and life. Many writers were attracted to live at Lamb House including Henry James and E F Benson.  Other famous residents in the area of Rye have included Tom Baker, Paul McCartney and Spike Milligan.

Take the Saxon Shore Way out of Rye and across the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. The wide range of habitats on the reserve is home to a variety of animal and plant species. Camber Castle is a couple of miles along the path. It can only be visited by a pre-arranged tour with English Heritage. It was built by Henry V111 to protect Rye Harbour. It was disbanded in 1637 and is now a ruin.

The walk finishes at Winchelsea  Beach which is about two miles south of the town of Winchelsea. Looking inland from the sea wall is a large field. This was once a harbour built at considerable expense in the 1700s. It was to replace Rye Harbour a few miles away but was a financial disaster. It lasted just 3 months before it silted up and was never used again.
Snaps show: Winchelsea Beach; the old harbour at Winchelsea Beach; Broomhills Sands; Rye Harbour entrance.

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