We are now offering this popular walking holiday on a self-guided basis. For details, please see the webpage. Below is an account written by one of the walkers on a guided group experience of Rye & Winchelsea Walks.
Fourteen of us gathered in early June at the George Hotel in Rye for a welcome drink, introductions and a chat about the coming two days of Rye & Winchelsea Walks. We walked to the beautiful church in the centre of Rye to meet our Blue Badge Guide, Jane, for a tour of this fascinating town. Rye is crammed with layers of seafaring, smuggling, literary and religious history. The tour gave us a glimpse of many facets of Rye and a basis on which to look at the town and countryside over the coming days. We dined back at the George Hotel and got to know each other over delicious food and a glass or two of wine.
Following breakfast the next day, we jumped on board the minibus to travel the short distance to Rye Harbour to start our walk. The sun shone and although the breeze was brisk we enjoyed walking over the marshes and through the nature reserve. It was fun spotting birds from the hides and marvelling at the plants and flowers growing on the shingle. We looked across Camber Sands and out to sea where the water was sparkling in the sun.
Our path took us inland around water filled pits on the reserve and across the fields to Camber Castle where a Nature Reserve Guide Barry gave us a fascinating private tour of the Castle. He explained the history and architecture of the Castle and showed us rare plants growing in the walls. We also inspected pellets regurgitated by local owls and these contained animals skulls and bones – it was intriguing.
We sat in a peaceful bird hide overlooking Castle Water for lunch before starting our walk back to Rye. Our path took us across marshland crisscrossed with streams and ditches and along an old railway line back into Rye. Some of the group visited the Heritage Centre and enjoyed the Sound and Light show before all headed back to the George for tea and a rest.
A number of us met at 6pm for a walk down to the Mermaid Inn, one of the oldest buildings in Rye, thought to have first been built on the site in 1156. It has a rich and exciting history of involvement with the Town Corporation, religious persecution and smuggling – a fantastic mixture! The whole group then met in The Ambrette on the High Street for a superb supper.
Our path to Winchelsea the next day took us along the banks of the River Brede, across marshland with great views back to Camber Castle and ahead to Winchelsea. A path alongside the Military Canal took us through peaceful, sunny and gentle countryside until we climbed up onto the road into Winchelsea through New Gate.
Winchelsea is a much gentler town than Rye, set out on a grid pattern at the centre of which stands the magnificent St Thomas’s Church. After a visit to the church and churchyard we visited the New Inn pub for lunch and a final chat about our two days holiday. Some of the group stayed on longer in Winchelsea to visit the Court Hall and Museum before catching the bus back to Rye; the rest of the group set off on the 1066 Walk back to Rye passing under Cadborough Cliffs. Our path took us back in the town where we said farewell.
A lovely holiday enjoying the interesting and scenic landscapes of the Rye & Winchelsea Walks with good company, masses of history, sunshine and great walking.
– By Barbara Hamilton