Wednesday 17 July 2016
Hastings to Rye
Hastings Touring Park
I decided to leave my tent where it was and walk ‘light’ for the day as I could get a bus back from Rye. I was intending to walk to Camber Sands, where there is the only campsite for the next 30 miles. However, it would have cost £53 for me to pitch my little tent for the night. Ridiculous. (It was another of those detestable parks with “computer says ‘no'” staff.)
I left early and walked through Hastings Country Park on the top of the cliff, part of the High Weald AONB.
It was sunny, hot and hazy under a bright blue sky. A beautiful day. The views from the cliff top were extensive, although I couldn’t see France.
I was following the Saxon Shore Way, a 163-mile long path that follows part of the coastline from Hastings around to Gravesend. At least this path was relatively well-marked.
I passed through Fairlight Cove, a small town surrounded by lots of trees, and on to Cliff End. Here was the start of the Royal Military Canal. This amazing defensive structure (the 3rd longest in Britain after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke) was completed in 1809, having been begun 5 years earlier when the threat of a Napoleonic invasion was high on the agenda, just before he was defeated. The canal was still finished, although in most places it is not as wide or deep as it was intended. It is 28 miles long and cuts off the vast, low-lying marshland that sits behind the pointed corner of land that is Dungeness. So Napoleon’s Army might have landed on the flat beaches but hopefully it would have come unstuck at the canal that bisects the land from Hastings to Folkestone.
I walked inland, along the canal bank, as far as Rye, passing Winchelsea on the way. I had to walk inland to Rye in order to cross the River Rother. It was an open walk next to the water and I saw plenty of dragonflies, swans, ducks, a couple of buzzards and a kingfisher.
As well as the wildlife I could see all across the edge of the flat marshland that led to Rye Bay.
In the middle of the flat land was Camber Castle; strange to build it in such a location I thought.
Rye is a beautiful old, walled town, perched on a small hill overlooking the River Rother and the surrounding marshland. I wandered up and down the narrow cobbled streets admiring the architecture.
It was very hot so I stopped for a break at the Mermaid Inn, in the heart of the Mediaeval citadel. Apparently some of the bedrooms have secret passages.
After cooling off I carried on wandering, stopping only to buy an amazing pork pie from Simon the Pieman’s shop to keep me going.
I was going to catch the train back to Hastings but hopped on a bus instead. I was surprised to find it more expensive than the train.
The heat had sapped my energy and I needed another stop in a cool, dark pub in Hastings Old Town. I was back early afternoon so I had time to wander along the Stade Beach again and to visit the Fishermen’s Museum before I caught the East Hill Lift back up to my campsite.