Wednesday July 15th 2009
Pett Level to Camber
Almost six months after the second foot operation we headed back to East Sussex to pick up the coast walk once again. As we were now so far from home, we decided to stay in the area and had booked two nights at the B&B at Rye Windmill. We travelled down on Tuesday so on Wednesday morning, fortified by a full English cooked breakfast we left the B&B in time for the 9.30 bus from Rye Station back to the Smuggler Inn at Pett Level.
The walk began with a slope up onto the embankment behind the pub past a tiny church. Once on the bank, the strong wind hit us with a vengeance. We were very high and exposed and the land inside the bank was about a metre lower than sea level. We could see for a long way over to Rye ahead and back to the hills this side of Hastings. In the foreground were fields full of sheep, recently shorn and with odd pointed faces, almost goat-like. The path along the bank was straight and easy and we soon found ourselves on the outskirts of the village of Winchelsea Beach.
At this point Rye Harbour comes into play as there is no path from here to get across the harbour so we turned inland and picked up the road through the centre of the village past St Richard’s Church. A short walk past houses followed then a puzzle to find the next path at the end of this road. Eventually we consulted the proper O. S. map rather than the printed out one which had our route marked on it in blue. The blue printed line was creating a path that wasn’t there and we quickly found the way on the real map. It seemed strange not to have the sea on our right as, unusually for us, we worked our way through field paths. We soon arrived at Camber Castle which had been visible on the horizon for several miles. Sadly it is only open on Saturday afternoons, but we had a rest here and gazed at it through the locked gates. The castle was built in the 1500s by order of Henry VIII as one of several to protect the important port of Rye but by the mid-17th century the port had silted up and the castle was abandoned and is now incongruously perched in the middle of a field.
After the castle, we had planned to pick up the Saxon Shore Way across to the Military Canal bank and from there into Rye but got lost and instead found ourselves in a bird sanctuary. There were good maps and signboards along the paths and which made the route easy to follow and after half an hour or so, we emerged in the centre of Rye – just not quite where we had intended. The plan for the day had been to finish at Rye, but it was barely lunch time and we both felt that we could continue the walk after a break so we had a long lunch stop at the Mermaid tea rooms at the bottom of Mermaid Street.
After lunch, our route took us through the centre of Rye to the end of the High Street and down a steep flight of steps which ended abruptly at our old friend, the A259. A short walk along the road and over the River Rother followed, and then we picked up a track beside the river. The views from this pleasant path, which took us almost to the sea on other side of Rye Harbour, were of sheep and boats and a huge wind farm dominating the skyline.
Soon we reached Rye Golf Course and through a gate we found a permitted path across the golf course, not on the map, but described in the guide book. The path followed the course of the old Camber Tramway which once ran from Rye to Camber Sands, providing transport for golfers and seaside trippers. There were remains of the tramway as rails in the ground and the golf links station.
We duly followed the path, keeping an eye out for flying golf balls, and enjoying a break on the sheltered side of a wind shelter. Suddenly we arrived at the end of the path and emerged in the car park serving the beach at Camber Sands.
Having found the bus stop, we decided to sit on the beach for a while then the bus took us back into Rye and we were soon back in our room at the Windmill and enjoying a hot shower and a rest.
Running Total 191.8 miles