Tucked away at the bottom of the British Isles lies the Medieval town of Rye. It’s modest in size but there’s heaps of charm packed inside its walls, from wobbly roofs to blooming tea rooms and bespoke shops to a 600-year-old pub. It’s well prepared for the tourist in pursuit of aesthetic pleasures, and who wouldn’t fall for that!
Our favourite stop off was Edith’s House, a cafe set up by two London actors who fell in love with the town, and it’s full of delicious cakes, snacks and a very friendly French bulldog called Roux!
Rye’s most famous street is Mermaid Street. It’s hundreds of years old and hoards of tourists tramp along its ankle-breaking cobbles. At sunset (with some of the best fish and chips I’ve had!) I really understood its appeal:
On the right of the picture you can see the Mermaid Inn, the street’s (and probably town’s) most famous building. It was originally built in the 12th century, but most parts you see date back from the 1400s. Smuggler’s stories and ghost tales surround it.
And if you weren’t content with rambling through the streets of Rye, there is another treat waiting 3 miles down the road: Camber Sands. Clambering up a steep sandy hill, at the top vast expanses of sand and dunes fill your view. The sand is so fine it feels like silk. The tides retreat so far back you’ve got a small marathon ahead of you to reach the water. It’s magical! You can explore the dunes and walk through the grasses, with little animal tracks weaving around you.
The beauty of Camber Sands is certainly not a secret, but there’s enough sand for everyone, and far enough away from any big town or city that you won’t be packed in like sardines. And if you get there early, even in high summer you will have the whole place to yourself – as we did at 7.30am.
7 in the morning isn’t too early to set off. But that morning we’d actually got up at 3.30… My aim was to try and capture the sunrise. We headed to Winchelsea beach, almost as vast again, only a lot muddier! The gradient is so shallow and the sandy mud so saturated there isn’t really a water’s edge; your feet just get soggier. Eventually you start feeling the tide against your ankles. It’s quite disconcerting. I’m used to steep beaches and the sea washing past you in waves; this tide just creeps almost silently around you. It’s easy to see how it catches people out.
Anyway, after a beautiful start, clouds covered the sun up so the colours never really opened up. But I still got a few nice shots :) :
We spent the afternoon lazing in Camber Sands, and by the early evening the other visitors emptied out. Once again the vast empty sands opened up to us.