Monday, June 05, 2000

Walk 14 -- Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to Rye

Ages: Colin was 58 years and 28 days. Rosemary was 55 years and 155 days.
Weather: Dull and overcast, with quite a stiff breeze coming from the south-west.
Location: From Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to Rye.
Distance: 4½ miles.
Total distance: 99 miles.
Terrain: Along roads, mostly.
Tide: Coming in.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: The ‘Interman Arms’ at Rye Harbour where we drank ‘Young’s Special’.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We packed up our camp on the outskirts of Hastings. We drove to Rye and parked just across the River Brede in the Rye Harbour Road where a footpath leads across the fields to Camber Castle. We walked to Camber Castle (still closed!), then across the fields as we had come the day before to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve entrance on the shore.
At the end, we drove home to Bognor.

We ate our sandwiches just before we arrived at the Nature Reserve entrance because we found a ‘fogey’ seat (so-called because they are set up all over the place for old fogeys like us!) overlooking the shingle fields but nicely sheltered from the wind which was a bit parky today. I climbed up on to the shingle bank to look at the sea, but not only was it too cold to be comfortable up there, the shingle was very uneven and would have been difficult to walk on. So we settled on the road for walking which was a bit boring but at least it was barred to all traffic including bicycles! Visibility was poor, anyhow, and we couldn’t even see the horizon out to sea.
The shingle bank is being taken over by plants, which keep it stable, and the glorious flowers certainly brightened up a dull day. There were various pools to our left, cut off from the sea by the shingle bank which acts as a sea wall, and numerous water birds were using them for nesting. We could have gone into a hide overlooking one of them, but Colin reckoned he could see all he wanted to from where we were, so we didn't bother. (I reckon the truth was that he was anxious that the pub might close before he got there, so he wanted to push on!) We did see, and hear, a number of terns screeching overhead and dive-bombing anything which moved near to their lake; but they didn’t dive-bomb us because we were nowhere near their nests. It reminded us of a visit we paid to the Farne Islands about three years ago where we were attacked quite viciously by terns for walking past their nests!
As we approached the river and the harbour entrance, we could see a number of small boats, including a couple in full sail, going in and out because the tide was in. But by the time we arrived at the river they had all gone and there was nothing to watch! It had looked a bit strange from the distance because it looked as if they were sailing along the shingle to go inland. We could see two ‘pill-boxes’ at the point and Colin reckoned that they were one each side of the harbour entrance with the river flowing in between, I reckoned they were both our side of the river. I was right!
There were a few people hanging around the harbour entrance, fishermen and a couple of cyclists, and they were the first people we had met since leaving the car. The fog hooter in the middle of the river was very noisesome—we had been listening to it getting gradually louder for the last mile as we approached the river. As we began to walk north beside the river it disappeared from our hearing quite suddenly because it was pointing out to sea.
We watched wheatears and oystercatchers on the shingle, and then we saw redshanks with ridiculously red legs! They kept perching on fence posts and the end of a seat making an enormous amount of noise and allowing us to approach quite close. We didn’t know where their nests were, and they were determined to distract our attention away from them! It was wonderful to see all these different birds at such close quarters. As we left the Nature Reserve, there was another of those Martello towers, built to repel NapolĂ©on nearly two hundred years ago, and a pretty little church. But Colin was now determined to find his ‘real ale’ pub along the little street of houses, and walked in at 2.53pm—it shut at 3 o’clock! So World Peace was again preserved as we gratefully sank a pint each!
We couldn’t continue along the river bank to the bridge because it was all ‘strictly private’ with fences and other such paraphernalia to impede our progress. So we were forced to walk along the road for the last mile or so, dodging the traffic through a noisy, smelly, half-derelict industrial estate. It was awful! It is high time the local Tourist Board took a look at these things, there is no reason why the river bank there could not be opened up as a public footpath for people to wander past doing no harm to anything or anyone. As it was we were dicing with death on that road, and I bet the owners of all those ‘private’ notices don’t pay personally for the upkeep of the river bank either. We couldn’t even see the river until we got back to our car, where we noticed that all the boats in the harbour were now floating—they had been stranded on the sand by the tide when we left. We met another walker going the other way half way along the road, and he remarked how dreadful it all was. As we were changing out of our boots he came back and stopped for a chat. He was a Canadian from Alberta, one of the most scenic parts of that huge country—no wonder he thought walking that road was dreadful!

That ended Walk No. 14, we shall pick up Walk No.15 next time at the same point on the Rye Harbour Road where the footpath to Camber Castle branches off. After partaking of a cup of tea from our flask in the car, we drove home to Bognor. The fact that it took us over two hours made us realise how far we have walked already on our ‘Walk Round Britain’—nearly a hundred miles!

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