places to go & see...
Samphirecamber is less than five minutes walk from the absolutely stunning beach, Camber Sands. In all seasons, it's a very special place. So it's not surprising that you will often see film crews there. It made a cameo in Carry On film 'Follow That Camel'; was the backdrop for that iconic fashion shoot with Kate Moss; and more recently stood in as an alien planet in Dr Who.
It frequently makes the list of the top beaches in England by the likes of Time Out, The Independent, Daily Mail & Good Housekeeping. Stretching over seven miles, much of it is made up of golden sand and it's home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex.
If you're up for something a little more active than a sunbathe or a stroll, then the Kitesurf Centre is just what you need!
It's a leading BKSA kite school, offering kitesurfing lessons, kiteboarding courses, powerkiting, kite buggying, kite landboarding & SUP. The school is a five minutes drive from the house.
The beach welcomes dogs all year round, though in the summer months, look out for the area that's designated for our four legged friends. It's the stretch of beach nearest to samphirecamber. Camber Sands is also a great spot for families, with plenty of space and good amenities close at hand. See what mumsnet has to say about it!
Rye is a three mile drive from samphirecamber or if you're feeling more energetic, it's a 20 minutes cycle along the cycle path from Camber. However you get there, it will be worth the visit.
You'll find one of the best preserved medieval towns in England - brimming with history, charm, great places to eat, shop and enjoy. There's always something on in Rye, click here to find out more. It's home to the enchanting cobbled Mermaid Street, the impressive Norman church of St Mary’s, a rich selection of specialist shops and a thriving fishing fleet. Check out Basil's recommendations for places to eat and shop in Rye.
The famous Mermaid Inn was the haunt of notorious smugglers, the Hawkhurst Gang. Rye was once surrounded on three sides by the sea and its maritime heritage dates back to Norman times. To defend it against frequent attacks from the French, Rye became an ‘antient town’ of the powerful Cinque Ports Confederation.
Rye has produced and attracted many fiction writers, some of whom lived at Lamb House, one of the town's historic residences and now owned by the National Trust. They include Henry James and E.F. Benson. Both the House and the town feature prominently in Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels, as Mallards House and Tilling respectively.
The artists Paul Nash, Edward Burra and Captain Pugwash creator, John Ryan all lived in Rye. Today a wealth of art and photography galleries thrive in the town.
Rye Harbour village is a few miles out of Rye and is a wonderful spot for both walkers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Its fascinating Nature Reserve is worth a visit whether you want to discover its wildlife and habitats, explore its history, or simply experience the landscape and enjoy a walk beside the sea, whatever the season. You'll find the plant samphire growing here. It's what inspired the name of the house!
The Nature Reserve lies within a large triangle of land extending south from Rye, along the River Rother, past Rye Harbour to the sea, westward to Winchelsea Beach and northwards along the River Brede.
You'll also find a unique and interesting harbour, which runs along the river Rother. It has a busy yachting centre, a fishing fleet and some commercial shipping. The village also has a lifeboat station, two pubs, an art gallery, cafe and a village shop.
A Martello Tower was built at Rye Harbour to defend the area against possible invasion during the Napoleonic wars. The church of the Holy Spirit at Rye Harbour stands in a beautiful location with a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster in 1928.
Heading east out of Camber, you'll find Dungeness about an half hour car trip down the coast. There’s something distinctly different about Dungeness. It might have something to do with the strange combination of nuclear power stations, battered fishermen’s huts, lighthouses, the ‘acoustic mirrors’, concrete oddities and the largest expanse of shingle in Europe.
It’s no wonder then that this headland on the Kent coast has attracted both artists and nature lovers for years. Be sure to check out Prospect Cottage, where film-maker Derek Jarman once lived and the famous garden he created.
The large ‘acoustic mirrors’ are also worth a visit - these concrete structures were England’s first early warning system before the dawn of radars.
For bird lovers, there’s an RSPB observatory as well as two hides on the beach, offering ideal vantage points for spotting the migratory birds and seabirds that stop off at Dungeness. If you’re lucky you might spot firecrests, long-tailed Tits or Lapland buntings.
For the past 87 years the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway has been an integral part of the landscape of the Romney Marsh. Known as “Kent’s Mainline in Miniature”, the world famous one-third full size Steam & Diesel locomotives have powered their way along the 13½ miles of track
from the Cinque Port town of Hythe, to Dungeness.
Winchelsea is an historic ancient town which stands two miles west of the town of Rye. It was founded in 1288 as a port town to replace Old Winchelsea, which was overwhlemed by the sea during the 13th century, and is a great example of a medieval planned town, with a grid pattern of streets.
One of the founders of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, preached his last outdoor sermon in the town in 1790.
Today, Winchelsea is an unspoilt and well worth exploring, with delightful walks and fine views towards the coast. There is a pub serving lunchtime and evening meals. You'll also find the Winchelsea Farm Kitchen - a glorious deli selling many lines of local produce and a cafe with a garden to the rear.
You'll find the surviving town gates, the medieval Church of St Thomas and a small museum which is open daily during the summer months. In the churchyard is the grave of the comedian Spike Milligan.
The Winchelsea Archaeological Society holds an annual series of historical tours around Winchelsea in order to increase public awareness of the importance of the local heritage and build long-term public support for its conservation.
Winchelsea has more medieval cellars than anywhere else in England, apart from Norwich and Southampton. There are 56 known medieval cellars (and a few post-medieval), although only 33 are currently accessible. All date from the late 13th century and most were built to service the wine trade with Gascony. The cellars are only open to the public during the tours, which explain how and why the cellars were built, set against the dramatic historical background of medieval Winchelsea.
Tenterden, the long-dubbed "Jewel of the Weald", still sparkles. Crammed full of heritage buildings and one-off shops; thriving festivals and nearby vineyards - there are plenty of reasons to visit.
Tenterden's townscape is idyllic. Swathes of greens are lined with trees; a wealth of ancient architecture includes white-painted weatherboarding, tile-hung fascias and unique 'mathematical tiles'. It creates a relaxed, irresistible environment in which to browse and shop.
The vineyards encircling Tenterden provide a tempting focus for a gourmet day trip. Amongst them is Chapel Down Winery, producer of world-acclaimed vintages. Take in a tour and tutored tasting, then a memorable meal in the vineyard's much-acclaimed Swan restaurant.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway provides don't-miss steam-powered vintage voyages, puffing through undulating Wealden landscapes to fairy-tale Bodiam Castle.
The town's fascinating history is told at Tenterden & District Heritage Museum where displays outline hopping and brewing heritage and a prestigious Cinque Ports past.
Nearby, sits 16th century Smallhythe Place. The charming former home of famous Shakespearian actress Ellen Terry, its nationally-significant theatrical collection includes a stunning beetle-wing dress.
This cosmopolitan town is home to the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe, the remains of the first castle in England to be built by William the Conqueror, a preserved Old Town and a strong local arts community. Hastings is also home to the Jerwood Gallery, a stunning new art gallery housing a collection of 20th and 21st century British art that has never before been seen by the public. It is located in the Stade area, in the middle of the fishing quarter.
Around the time of the Norman Conquest Hastings was a thriving fishing and trading centre and the original port lies deep below today’s town centre. In 1287 the Great Storm hit the southern coast of England and caused the cliff and half its castle to fall into the sea, ruining its harbour. The town then moved eastward.
Hastings is a Cinque Port, and up until the 16th century, with other coastal towns provided the ships and men who guarded king and country from frequent and vicious attacks in return for special privileges. This unique confederation of South East England Channel ports was the original force behind England’s maritime power.
Hastings is really three towns in one joined by a level promenade; the Old Town to the east, the bustling contemporary shopping Town Centre in the middle and St Leonards to the west featuring the classical elegance of James Burton’s architecture and the fashionable Norman Road – recently named as the new ‘Portobello Road-on sea’ by The Times and offering a great collection of antique shops and vintage galleries.
Today, nestling between the East and West Hills, the Old Town is a charming mix of half-timbered houses, narrow streets and passageways, locally known as ‘twittens’. Both the Shipwreck Museum and the Fishermens Museum vividly recall old seafaring days and famous local sunken ships. Next to the museums are the impressive tall black Net Huts, Hastings Fish Market offering fresh fish caught in an environmentally friendly way, fish stalls, seafood restaurants and cafes.
The Old Town is a browser's paradise as its streets are filled with antiques and independent shops, cafes, artists galleries, delis and so much more. A must for those who are on the hunt for intersting curios and objet d'art. It's well worth a visit to soak up the atmosphere and lose yourself in all that the place has to offer.
Deep in the West Hill you will see Hastings smuggling heritage come to life at Smugglers Adventure in St Clements Caves and below you will find Pelham Beach, a delightful blend of shingle and sand. At the top of the East Hill is Hastings Country Park, 660 acres of ancient woodland, grassland and heathland that stretch across five miles of exposed cliffs and rugged terrain. You can reach the country park by taking the East Hill Lift, the steepest funicular railway in Britain.
Photo credit: Barbara Lowe