Rye town is a charming network of cobbled streets and lanes with architecture dating back to medieval times, and most importantly is known for its membership of the historic Cinque Port Confederation, of which memories of GCSE history come flooding back to me.
Rye has an abundance of quirky shops selling all sorts of memorabilia, antiques and souvenirs, a museum and beautiful cinema amongst its attractions. The town is dominated by the 12th Century church and clock tower which boasts one of the oldest working turret clocks and is a must to ascend to appreciate the town and surrounding countryside from an elevated view.
Food is another good reason for coming to Rye, especially if fish is your fancy and, needless to say, locally caught fish is a speciality. There are many good restaurants and cafes to choose from and I can personally recommend Webbe’s at the Fish Cafe and the beautifully maintained Mermaid Inn, originally dating to 1156, for a little more sedate fine dining.
But Rye is only part of the story for East Sussex and if its something quirky you are after, hop on the Romney & Hythe Dymchurch steam railway and head down to Dungeness. Classified as Britain’s only desert due to its exceptionally low rainfall this massive shingle headland is an area of international conservation importance and boasts a diverse range of plant, invertebrates and birdlife. Even the warmer waters from the outflow of the nuclear power station which dominates the skyline contribute to the diverse ecosystem.
The stark landscape and many of the old fisherman’s cottages dotted around boast a varied celebrity status. Dr Who is one of many TV shows which have been filmed here, Pink Floyd featured it on an album cover (A Collection of Great Dance Songs) and the late film director Derek Jarman’s cottage still attracts visitors to its fascinating shingle garden. One of the renovated cottages was even awarded the accolade of ‘2016 House of the Year’ on the TV show Grand Designs.
Still feeling fit after climbing the Rye clock tower? The old 140’ (40m) high lighthouse offers even more impressive 360° views this fascinating headland. Once back on terra firma, weather permitting, a fresh fish lunch on the beach served by the nearby Snack Shack doesn’t get much better.
Images (c) Colin Hockley
Tell me more about Rye and East Sussex
Where to stay in Rye
Rye is a perfect base to explore East Sussex’ surprisingly diverse coastline with its quirky landscapes, bracing walks, wildlife and fascinating history. Standing on the edge of town, dominant on the banks of the River Tillingham stands the Rye Windmill B&B.
Where to eat in Rye
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