345. Fairlight to Rye

After yesterdays unintended extended walk, I decided I would have a much shorter day. I managed to escape from Pontins at the ungodly hour of 06:00, handing my chalet key to the guy on the gate. I had decided to reverse my direction of walk today because of the bus timings, which meant an earlier start. It also meant I could park up at Rye railway station again to get the bus to Fairlight, a small village close to Hastings Country Park.

I caught the #101 bus service from Rye getting off  close to Fairlight and walking the short distance down to Hastings Country Park. Even at this time of the morning the car park was full of cars and camper vans. The weather looked a bit more settled with no showers forecast, just a grey overcast sky.

The topography around Fairlight would be a dramatic change from my previous flat sea-wall walks, as the much higher ground of the Weald anticline exposes a collection of sandstones, siltstones and mudstones, resulting in high unstable cliffs. One of the good things about reversing the direction of walk today was the fact that I would be starting on the high ground and walking to the lower.

I made my way downhill and onto the residential streets of Fairlight Cove and up onto Fairlight Hill. Close to the top I met an elderly gentleman who was training his Spaniel on game retrieval, we chatted awhile and he related a number of stories on attempts to reduce the continual erosion of the Fairlight cliffs. By the time I came to Cliff End I could look down on the Sea wall that ran along Pett Level. I descended down into the village of Cliff End and found the start of the Military Canal which I had previously come across on my walk through Hythe. I transferred onto the sea wall headed across Winchelsea Beach.

Early morning at Hastings Country Park looking across Rye Bay to Dungeness
The cliff-top road at Fairlight Cove
Looking down on the Pett Level and Winchelsea Beach from above Cliff End

The path continued onto and through the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Most the reserve was composed of shingle and was quite similar to that on Dungeness. The area was quite desolate apart from a building that came into view. This was the lifeboat house of the Mary Stanford. In November 1928 during a great storm, a distress call was received from the Alice of Riga steamship. The lifeboat crew of the Mary Stanford responded and launched into heavy seas. This lifeboat had no engine and was powered by oarsmen. Just after the lifeboat was launched a message was related that crew of the Alice of Riga had already been rescued and the lifeboat could stand down. Unfortunately, because of the poor weather conditions the flares could not be seen by the crew and sometime later the lifeboat capsized with all 17 crew members perishing.

I soon emerged at the mouth of the River Rother where it entered the sea at Rye Bay, the river had been ‘channelised’ back in the 1930’s. Here I met many other walkers who had parked at the large nature reserve car park at Rye Harbour. I passed by the impressive and newly built Rye Harbour Discovery Centre, closed today for staff training. The road into Rye itself had a good footpath and passed by a number of industrial works. As I entered Rye I  crossed over bridge’s spanning the small Rivers Tillingham and Brede, before arriving back at Rye Railway station.

The start/end of the Military Canal
Looking back at Cliff End from the sea wall
Heading along the sea wall at Winchelsea Beach
I passed this little bird who was very vocal, possibly a female Wheatear
The Lifeboat House of the Mary Standford
The mouth of the River Rother
The newly built Rye Harbour Discovery Centre
Locks on the Royal Military Canal at Rye
The River Brede at Rye

Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance = 6,406 miles


2 thoughts on “345. Fairlight to Rye”

  1. Fairlight Cove is falling gradually into the sea. I took this photo on a previous visit. Quite surprising to see a house literally hanging over the edge of the cliff (they usuaully get demolished before reaching that stage).

    Fairlight Cove

    I really enjoyed the coast around this area though.


  2. Hi Jon, what the old fella I spoke to on Fairlight Hill told me was that a few years back one of the locals who had some plant and machinery thought he could do a “Canute” and fix the problem himself. Unfortunately, he could not and there is a large digger buried underneath the slumped cliff face at Fairlight Cove. Also the stones which you can see in your photo also failed. Apparently they were placed individualy in a certain pattern and took ages to lay.


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