As part of a series of trips to see more of our adopted home, in late September we took a two-day trip to Rye. Train connections between London and Rye are plentiful and convenient, but we decided to drive from London because we wanted to see some things outside of the town. With beautiful fall weather and a full tank of gas, we set off!
We took a small detour to start, stopping in Dungeness to see its Old Lighthouse. The town (if you can call it that) is a bit odd, especially with the imposing nuclear power plant sandwiched between the Dungeness National Nature Reserve and the sea; it seemed deserted on our visit, but we imagine it’s livelier in summer. We walked along a short boardwalk to the beach, where we could see in the distance the chalky cliffs near Dover 15 miles away.
Our next stop was Rye Harbour, where we grabbed a cream tea at Avocet Tea Room for lunch and walked into the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. On this occasion we walked to the beach from the town, but we came back to the reserve a second time the next day to walk to the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House (from a parking lot at 50.912324, 0.726700 in Winchelsea).
At last in Rye proper, we checked into the Whitehouse hotel on High Street (which served a delicious breakfast of pancakes and granola the next morning) and started to explore. One could walk every street and lane of the “citadel” (the old medieval center) in about an hour (assuming no stopping), but stopping is inevitable given the town’s cobblestone charm and attractive architecture, not to mention the panoramic views afforded by the citadel’s elevated position. Mermaid Street is well-known, but other quaint views can be had at Lion Street (looking up toward St. Mary’s), Church Square, Watchbell Street, Traders Passage (especially looking north-northwest from near the top), and the curve where High Street becomes The Mint.
We appreciated what remains of the old town walls from the Gun Garden, where we also spied the English Channel in the distance. After a stop for a snack at Knoops (hot chocolate, pistachio lemon cookie, shortbread, chocolate brownie), we browsed the shops (housed in jet black wooden houses) off the Strand, discovering a perfect souvenir at Crock & Cosy. Next, we followed the short river path at 50.950153, 0.726771 for views of the cutesy the Rye Windmill B&B.
Before our dinner at the Globe Inn Marsh (falafel burger, couscous), we drove out to Camber Sands for golden hour. We took a long early evening stroll along the sandy beach, stretching on for miles and drenched in the sun’s yellow-orange light. The salty air and sounds of crashing waves reminded us how drawn we feel to the seaside.
After a scrumptious day-two lunch at The Fig (bean burrito, halloumi wrap), we hopped into the car and made our way back to London. Rye (and its environs) served as a relaxing and charming respite from bustling London, and we hope to discover more British gems as we continue to explore our own backyard!