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.
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A brief history of Camber Castle
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
Today, Camber Castle stands nearly 2 miles from the sea and is managed by English Heritage. You cannot access the castle by car, so you do have to walk.
Although you can only go inside at certain times of the year, it’s 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.
Admission to Camber Castle
You can visit the exterior of the castle at any time during daylight hours.
In the summer (August-October), Camber Castle is open for guided tours on the first Saturday of every month. The tours start at 2pm.
Admission to Camber Castle is £3 for adults and free for children (2023 prices). English Heritage members can enter for free.
If you are planning on visiting several English Heritage sites, it is good value to purchase annual membership.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other castles near Rye
One of the closest castles to Rye is Hastings Castle, which is just is 9 miles away.
Hastings Castle plays a significant role in English history, as it was the first Norman motte and castle to be built here. It stands on West Hill, overlooking the historic seaside town of Hastings. William the Conqueror ordered the castle’s construction, after arriving on English shores in 1066.
Today only the ruins of Hastings Castle remain. However, it is a popular tourist attraction in Hastings, as people come to learn about the turbulent history. It’s also worth a visit for the stunning views over Hastings.
One of the most beautiful castles in south-east England is Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge in East Sussex..
Bodiam Castle is a magnificent fairy-tale castle from the 14th Century. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, to defend the area from French invasion.
It is only 13 miles from Rye, so makes an easy day out if you have a car.
Bodiam Castle is now owned by the National Trust and is free to members.
Pin for later: A walk to Camber Castle, Rye
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