Monday, June 26, 2000

Walk 15 -- Rye to Camber Sands

Ages: Colin was 58 years and 49 days. Rosemary was 55 years and 176 days.
Weather: Dull and overcast, but the sun came out towards the end of the walk. Warm and comfortable.
Location: From Rye to Camber Sands.
Distance: 6½ miles.
Total distance: 105½ miles.
Terrain: Along pavements in Rye, then along a grassy riverbank which was very pleasant to walk on, then a soft sandy beach (a bit too soft in some places!), and finally along a concrete sea wall with a shingle gap in the middle for about 100 yards.
Tide: Out, but coming in.
Rivers to cross: Nos.5, 6 and 7, the Brede, Tillingham and Rother at Rye.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: The ‘Ypres Castle’ in Rye where we drank ‘Adnams Broadside’ and ‘Harvey’s XX’ mild.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We camped the night before at Stelling Minnis. After a leisurely breakfast, we drove to Camber Sands and parked the car. Then we caught a bus through Rye and got off at the Rye Harbour Road, just a few yards from where we finished the last walk.
At the end, we drove to Old Romney to have a meal at yet another ‘real ale’ pub, then returned to our camp at Stelling Minnis.

The river divides into three at Rye, and you have to cross each branch separately. First we crossed the River Brede, then it was only about a hundred yards around the corner where we crossed the River Tillingham. We walked along a pleasant greensward, where there are notices asking you not to feed the birds because they are becoming aggressive, and sat on a seat to have our lunch.
Colin was anxious to get to the pub before it closed, so we went into the town and it was soon found—it was open all day! It is called ‘Ypres Castle’, and is tucked in under the wall of Ypres Tower, a 13th Century fort. We sat in a little enclosed garden to drink and it was very pleasant.

We had a walk round Rye, it is a lovely little town with cobbled streets and ancient buildings.
Along with Winchelsea, it allied with the Cinque Ports of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. By the 13th Century these ports were so powerful they made their own rules and acted almost as an independent state. They controlled most of the trade between Britain and Europe, but the harbour here at Rye silted up and so it lost its importance. The title ‘Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports’ is now an honorary title only and is presently held by the Queen Mother who will be a hundred years old in about six weeks time!
We didn’t go to the famous ‘Mermaid Inn’ where buccaneers and mercenaries used to hang out in yesteryear because we have been there before and reckon it’s a rip-off set up for gullible Americans! We planned to climb the church tower, but changed our minds when we saw the price had gone up to £2 (it was 50p last time we were here!) Come off it, it isn’t that high! We found an ancient water tower which was interesting, but like all these Victorian water features the pump was broken and it can no longer be used. We found two pie shops and bought a pasty in each, then we returned to the river and continued our walk. We trudged through some boring boatyards, then nearly missed the way where some ‘bijou’ residences have been built with ‘strictly private’ notices all over the place. The ‘public footpath’ notice was there, but very insignificant so that it could easily be missed—Colin found it so we walked boldly and loudly through! Then on by some gardens and we were at the bridge over the River Rother. The bridge was very busy with traffic, and also with children just turning out of a local school.
Immediately over the bridge, we turned sharp right, through a gate, and we were in a different world! A grassy river bank with only the sheep for company, and the occasional bird. Among the gulls, Colin was convinced that he saw a ringed plover, and later on a reed bunting which is a rare sight these days. We followed the raised river bank which was a lot straighter than the curly river edge, and was the proper path so we didn’t have to keep climbing over fences! As we approached the sea, we took a short cut ‘at your own risk’ said the notice (we were very brave!) across an area which sometimes gets flooded at high tide. It was as dry as a bone except for one muddy stream which we managed to jump across without too much difficulty. The last half mile or so was a gravel track used by the local sailing club.
It was a very clear day, so the foghorn in the river entrance was not going. We were pleased about that because it was on our side and we walked right underneath it to get to the ‘corner’—Colin insisted on it, saying it is in the rules! We sat on a wall near there and ate our pasties. One was very much nicer than the other, so when we had each eaten half we swapped—aren't we nice to each other?
Then followed a very pleasant walk along the sands to Camber. The sand was soft to start with and we had fun leaving footprints.
However, that was quite hard going so we walked further up the beach on the edge of the shingle, then later on the sand was hard so we were OK. When we came to the spot where our car was parked in the road just over the sea wall, we decided to take a break. We drove the last mile along to where the military range starts, parked and had a cup of tea.
Feeling refreshed, we started to walk back to where we had picked up the car so we could walk the last mile in the right direction. After about 200 yards, we stopped to talk to a man who had parked his car there and was admiring the view. He was very excited because he had seen two stoats that morning! He then offered us a lift to wherever we wanted to go, so we asked him to take us back a mile and we got out where we had originally parked our car and resumed our walk from the exact spot where we had left the sea wall. It wasn’t very exciting, and only took us about twenty minutes, but it saved us a bit of time.
We ended our Walk at the start of the military range, where the Army had been firing all day. The red flag was down by then, but it was too late to walk any further. We had made enquiries in the morning and we know that tomorrow they are firing from dawn to about 11pm, so we will have to leave the next 5 miles out for the moment.
We are too young to die!

That ended Walk No. 15, we shall pick up Walk No. 16 at the other end of the military range towards Dungeness. We drove into Old Romney where we had our dinner at yet another ‘real ale’ pub, then drove back to our camp at Stelling Minnis.

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