Day 378 Following the Saxons and a Military Canal

Wednesday 17 July 2016

Hastings to Rye

14 miles

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.)

Camping by the road at Camber Sands – it could have been me for £53 per night!
I left early and walked through Hastings Country Park on the top of the cliff, part of the High Weald AONB. 

Hastings Country Park
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. 

looking down on Covehurst Bay and Fairlight Cove
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. 

the start of the Royal Military Canal at Cliff End
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. 

walking alongside the Royal Military Canal, near Rye
Winchelsea (including the Strand Gate) on the hill rising above the Royal Military Canal
As well as the wildlife I could see all across the edge of the flat marshland that led to Rye Bay. 

the flat marshland, grazed by sheep, between the Canal and Rye Bay
In the middle of the flat land was Camber Castle; strange to build it in such a location I thought. 

Camber Castle
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. 

one of the steep cobbled streets inside Rye Citadel
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. 

The Mermaid Inn
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. 

Rye’s sole remaining landgate of the 4 built from a grant given by King Edward III for fortifying the town in 1329
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. 

looking at Rye perched on the small hill, viewed from Rye Harbour
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. 

East Hill lift viewed from Stade fishermen’s beach
I spent the evening in the on-site bar again. It was bingo night and fairly soulless but I was too tired to walk into town. 

One thought on “Day 378 Following the Saxons and a Military Canal

  1. Chris F October 6, 2016 / 4:41 am

    £53 at least Dick Turpin wore a mask………and the Camp Site looked proper pants. At least Rye was beautiful to go along with your gorgeous day…..shame about the Bingo I bet you were hoping for Karaoke so you good blast out your favourite Abba songs. Well Done Juice…..


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