Rye is handily places for wonderful beaches (both the family resort kind, and the nobody-around-for-miles kind), picturesque towns, gardens, castles, galleries and museums. Here are just a few ways to fill up your days.
Dungeness is a wild, remote stretch of shingle, where hardy homeowners, rare birdlife and a massive power station live in harmony. Visit the lighthouse, covet the innovative architecture, see Derek Jarman’s renowned coastal garden (pictured) and ride the miniature railway. Time your visit to enjoy a lobster roll at the Dungeness Snack Shack.
Camber Sands is a huge, glorious stretch of sand, backed by massive dunes, just 4 miles away, or less if you walk/cycle. Take a bucket and spade, learn to kitesurf, play hide-and-seek in the dunes or just sit outside the beach cafes with a cup of tea and watch the world go by.
There’s a regular bus service from Rye to Camber Sands so you don’t need a car to get there from the town.
Winchelsea Beach is a large shingle beach, on the opposite bank of the River Rother to Camber Sands, accessed via Rye Harbour. It’s generally much quieter than Camber. Keep walking west and you’ll get to the beach at Pett Level, with Hastings and its sheer cliffs at the end.
Climb the turrets of this 14th-century moated castle (owned by the National Trust) with ruined interior. It’s a great place for children to let off steam – buy them a wooden sword in the shop, then let them run riot.
Bodiam station is a stop on the Kent and East Sussex Railway; you can walk the quarter of a mile from the station to the castle itself. The Bodiam Boating Station is also close by, for hiring a row-boat, kayak or SUP.
The atmospheric Jacobean home of Rudyard Kipling, who lived here from 1902 until his death in 1936.
Kipling regarded Bateman’s as a place of sanctuary; with its mellow sandstone architecture and tranquil garden, it’s easy to fathom why. The house is a memorial to the writer, left as he and his wife lived in it, and includes letters, memorabilia and Kipling’s library, where he would write.
Created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, this is one of the world’s most famous gardens, arranged as a series of romantic outdoor ‘rooms’ around a central Elizabethan tower, where Sackville-West used to write.
The garden is part of a wider 450-acre estate, and makes a fine base for a countryside walk.
Site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, this quiet town is anything but turbulent now. The ruined Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror to celebrate his victory, and the battlefield itself are open to the public courtesy of English Heritage.
The town has a pretty high street with lots of boutiques and independent shops – especially food shops, from a traditional butcher and fishmonger to ice cream.
Rye has some great restaurants, and most of them take full advantage of the area’s local produce, from Romney Marsh lamb to Hastings crab. If you want to dine out at the weekend, it is best to book.
This modern and airy Arts and Crafts-era former warehouse can make a nice change from the low beams and crooked staircases that characterise many of Rye’s eateries. The open kitchen serves up the freshest fish and seafood, including rock oysters, Hastings crab and Rye Bay fish stew