Walk 7 – Cliff End, Pett to Rye Harbour, Sussex
The tide was still gently receding under a royal blue sky as I crunched along the pebbles beneath Cliff End, Sussex. I started the walk at Rye Harbour car park, following the concrete track all the way to Cliff End – a joy for walkers, cyclists, push and wheelchair users.
This flat, wide path, passes Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and if you have time, there are several hides for viewing a multitude of species.
Nearing the Colonel Body Memorial Lakes, farmers were corralling sheep into a grey barn which spat them out through a little door way – I'm glad I'm not a sheep.
Royal Military Canal
Further across the green expanse of Pett Level is the Royal Military Canal, 28 miles along and part of the Saxon Shore Way. A great spot for twitchers.
Fuelled on caffeine, I turned my back on Cliff End only to be met head-on by a myriad of wooden sea defences, briefly freed from their salty tomb.
Nearing Winchelsea Beach, the groynes retreated and the pebbles are now grains of sand and mud. Glorious, dangerous mud.
In the soggy shallows don't be surprised to find 'rocks' that closely resemble tree trunks and branches. These petrified remnants of an ancient forest take you back 6,000 years when the area was richly forested, and the British Isles were still joined to the Continent.
Back to the mud. As the low tide reaches it full extent, it is a delight to walk at the waters edge on its trickling return. You can fully appreciate the glistening swathe of sand reflecting the sun's rays and moody clouds.
But the tide's speed can catch out the unwary and large channels of 'invisible' mud will gladly engulf you to your knees, or worse. So please, if in any doubt, return to the shingle – you'll be glad you did.
Before reaching the mouth of Rye Harbour, look out for the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Station, which still stands guard atop the shingle beach. On 15th November 1928, the Mary Stanford lifeboat was lost at sea whilst on a rescue in terrible conditions. The crew is still remembered today by RNLI members.
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
A crumbling sea wall and marker buoy indicate the walk's end. Which is useful, otherwise you'll be up to your waist in sea water. If you wish to explore the wall, it is very slippery so take care.
I like this walk. Although not overly long, the diverse terrain always throws up something different. On the outward stretch you have the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve with its feathered visitors, and the Pett Level farmland with its woolly mowers.
The return is a complete contrast. Colourful shingle banks, jutting groynes and a peaceful ocean of sand, complete a lovely day out.
On this walk…
- Petrified forest
- Seals can be seen at the harbour mouth (if you're very lucky)
- Lovely sunsets
- BEWARE of the mud!
- OS Explorer map 124 Hastings and Bexhill
- OS Explorer map 125 Romney Marsh, Rye and Winchelsea