A walk to Camber Castle (Rye), East Sussex

by Jan

Camber Castle in East Sussex is one of King Henry VIII’s magnificent defensive castles.  Despite its name, it’s not actually in Camber, but nearer to Rye and Winchelsea.  It was even called Winchelsea Castle at one point.  The castle is not accessible by car, but we did a very pleasant walk to Camber Castle from Rye Harbour.

In this post I have outlined three Rye Harbour walks to Camber Castle and the benefits of each.  I have also included directions on how to get to Rye Harbour and what to expect when you get to Camber Castle.

History of Camber Castle

Inside Camber Castle, Rye, Sussex

Camber Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539 to protect the English coast from invasion by France.   In fact, the castle started on the coast.  However,  years of silting created shingle ridges which reduced its access to the sea.

Camber Castle was used for defence until 1627 when it became redundant, as by then it was so far from the sea.

Camber Castle today

Walking to Camber Castle, Rye, Sussex

Today, Camber Castle stands nearly 2 miles from the sea and is managed by English Heritage.  It is open for tours in the summer, but is currently not open, due to Covid restrictions.

However, we were able to walk all the way round the perimeter of the castle.  It was easy to peer inside and get a good idea of what the castle would have looked like.  Its walls are solid and have clearly stood the test of time against the elements.

You can see from the plan outside the castle, that it has remarkable flower shape walls.  It would be great to take an aerial photo, but drone restrictions are in place over the castle.

Today the 500-year-old shingle ridges provide an important and unique eco-system.  This is perfect for a variety of flowers and wildlife and the area has now become part of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

How to get to Rye Harbour

It is only a mile from Rye to Rye Harbour.  You can easily drive on the A259 and the journey only takes about 6 minutes.

Alternatively, you could take the 313 bus or walk.

Parking for your walk to Camber Castle

Car Park:  Car Park, Harbour Road, Rye, TN31 7TY

Boy sitting on Castle wall enjoying the view Camber Castle, Rye, Sussex

Options 1 and 2 – Start at the corner of Rye Harbour Road.  There is a car park near by, but it is easier to park on the layby.

Option 3 – It would be better to use the Rye Habour car park.

Option 1 - a short walk to Camber Castle (2 miles return)

If you want a simple, short walk to Camber Castle walk 1 is your best option.  It is a pretty walk that follows a route along a stream and across fields.  The terrain is easy and reasonably flat, so is an ideal walk for families.

However, you do retrace your steps and return the same way, so the scenery is less varied than in the other two options.

Top tip:  Don’t wear open-toe shoes, as there is a lot of sheep’s poo about!

Camber Castle Walk Option 1, Rye, Sussex

The short walk to Camber Castle starts at the corner of Harbour Road, next to Brede Lock.  There is a sign to Castle Mill Cottages, which says it is a private road.  However, the footpath is public, so you do have right of way.

From here follow the footpath, starting with the River Brede on your right.  When you reach Castle Mill Cottage, bear left, and go through the gate.  Continue with a picturesque stream and reed bed on your left.

When you get to the end of the houses on the other side of the canal, cross the gate and head across the sheep field towards Camber Castle.

After your visit to Camber Castle, retrace your steps to return.  It is about 1 mile each way.

Option 2 - a circular walk to Camber Castle (3 miles)

If you prefer a circular walk, option 2 has a different start, but then returns on the same path as option 1.  You will follow a disused railway track, pass Castle Water, and return by a stream.  So you can see that this walk has more diverse scenery than in Option 1.

There is also an option to extend your route by heading to the birdwatching hide overlooking Castle Water.

Camber Castle Walk Option 2, Rye, Sussex

As before, start at the corner of Harbour Road, next to Brede Lock.  This route starts by following the line of the old railway until you reach a gate beside the reed bed.  From here, you turn right and cross the footbridge.   Click here to access the full route.

Option 3 - a longer walk to Camber Castle (6 miles)

This third walk is perfect for nature-lovers or those who want a longer walk.  The route starts at Rye Nature Reserve and takes you across one of the most important conservation sites in Britain.

Camber Castle, Walk option 3, Rye, Sussex

This Site of Special Scientific Interest covers miles of wetland, salt marshes, freshwater gravel pits and sand dunes.  It’s a great route for nature-lovers, as you will see a rich variety of bird species on your walk.

The walk will also pass a bird watching hide for those nature lovers who want to take a closer look.

For this trail, park at the car park at Rye Harbour and take the entrance into the Nature Reserve.  You can then follow the way-marked trail to Camber Castle.  Details of the route can be seen here on the map of the Nature Reserve.

Once at Camber Castle, the route passes round Castle Water and returns on the Harbour Road.  It is the longest option of the 3 routes but has the most diverse scenery and wildlife of the three.

If you want to extend your walk even further, you could start in the town of Rye and walk from there.

Other castles near Rye

Hastings Castle

Ruins of Hastings Castle, looking down on Hastings, Sussex

Hastings Castle was the first Norman castle in Britain.  It stands on West Hill, overlooking the historic town of Hastings.  Today only the ruins remain, but it’s worth a visit, just for the views.

Bodiam Castle

Wooden Walkway across moat to Bodium Castle, East Sussex, England

Bodiam Castle is a magnificent moated castle from the 14th Century.  It is about 13 miles from Rye and now owned by the National Trust.

Have you done any good walks near Rye?  Please feel free to comment below.

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