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Towns nearby to explore
Rye - Perched on an outcrop of sandstone overlooking the marshes, Rye is probably one of the most visited small towns in England and Mermaid Street is almost certainly the most photographed street. The Mermaid Inn itself may date back to 1156, but like most of Rye, it was burned in 1377 by the French and only the cellar survived. However in 1420 it was re-built as it is today. Rye is steeped in history and its buildings and cobbled streets have changed little in the last 500 years.
Rye has a long literary history too, having been home to many authors over the years, including EF Benson who lived at Lamb House (National Trust) and used Rye as the setting for his Mapp and Lucia stories. The BBC’s dramatisation of Mapp and Lucia was filmed on location in Rye.
Today Rye is a vibrant hub for the local community. Its streets are lined with many and varied independent shops, ancient inns, great eateries, tea shops and cafés and other historical buildings, many of which remain private homes.
We would encourage all our guests to take a least half a day to explore Rye, wandering through the cobbled streets and narrow alley ways and enjoying the views from its elevated position over the surrounding marshland towards the sea.
Winchelsea - Just a couple of miles outside Rye, lies the historic town of Winchelsea, built in the 13th century as a port (although it now lies inland) it is a splendid example of a medieval planned town, with a grid pattern of streets. A pretty town, although no larger than many villages, with an impressive church, a pub and well stocked delicatessen where you can also get a decent cup of tea or coffee.
Hastings - Once the premier port of the former Cinque Ports, Hastings has a long maritime history and is still home to Europe's biggest beach-launched fishing fleet. The medieval old town and the Stade area are particularly interesting. There’s also a fantastic new pier and the Jerwood Gallery is a must too. Those with children will not want to miss the Bluereef Aquarium.
Battle - Believed to be the site of the great Battle of Hastings in 1066 the town grew around the Abbey of St Martin, now cared for by English Heritage as a visitor attraction together with the battlefields. The town has some lovely Georgian buildings, a Norman church and some interesting small shops and cafes.
Historic Houses and Castles
Lamb House (NT) in Rye has been the home of many authors over the years including Henry James and EF Benson.
Bodiam Castle (NT) is one of the most impressive 14th century moated castles you are likely to see.
Scotney Castle (NT) has a “deliberately derelict” 14th century castle, a country house and landscaped gardens all within a beautiful country estate. The Azaleas in late spring are just mind-blowing.
Batemans (NT) country house and mill once home of the Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.
Smallhythe Place (NT) is an early 16th century house and cottage garden which belonged to the actress Ellen Terry.
Battle Abbey (EH) is widely believed to be the site of the Battle of Hastings, visit the 1066 battle field, visitors centre and abbey remains.
Camber Castle (EH), our “local” castle, built for Henry VIII to protect the port of Rye lies between Rye and Winchelsea. Now a ruin, there are informative guided walks but check the website for times.
Dover Castle (EH) has centuries of history, from the Romans to the Cold War, visit the oldest serving lighthouse in the country, explore the medieval Great Tower, the underground wartime hospital and discover the Secret Wartime Tunnels.
Hastings Castle, built by William the Conquerer in 1067 was Britain’s first Norman castle, although now in ruins you can explore the original layout and enjoy some breathtaking views of the Hastings coastline.
Wandering through a beautiful garden is one of our favourite ways to spend an afternoon, especially if it involves tea and cake, as it nearly always does!
Great Dixter in Northiam is one of our favourites. It was the family home of gardener and garden writer Christopher Lloyd, and is always a riot of colour, particularly in the summer months.
Pashley Manor Gardens at Ticehurst are also wonderfully colourful, particularly in late spring when they hold a magnificent tulip festival.
The late Vita Sackville-West’s gardens at Sissinghurst Castle (National Trust) are also well worth a visit pretty much any time of the year. Sissinghurst is probably most famous for it’s White Garden but the herbaceous borders, the vegetable garden and parkland are equally impressive. The daffodils in springtime are incredible.
Derek Jarman's Garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness is worth stopping at too; an eclectic mix of beach finds, sea kale, poppies and shingle surround his iconic black and yellow cottage.
Wine production in the south east of England dates back to Roman times and, as with other forms of agriculture it has had its ups and downs, but today it is definitely on the up and wines from our area now regularly receive awards in international competitions. All the vineyards below are easily reached by car from our cottages, all welcome visitors and many offer tours and tastings and have restaurants and shops stocking not only their wines but also offering local and regional food and craft products.
Biddenden Vineyards - Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard producing award winning wines, ciders and juices. The vineyard is open to visitors throughout the year, admission & tastings are FREE, dogs on leads are welcome.
Carr Taylor Vineyard - a family estate which has been producing award-winning sparkling, still and fruit wines since 1971. The vineyard is open to visitors throughout the year, with self-guided tours and tasting available all year round. Guided tours and tutored tastings available and need to be pre-booked.
Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard - England's oldest organic vineyard (established in 1979) produces award winning whites, rose, red and sparkling wine, as well as fruit wines, cider, and fruit juices. Open daily for self-guided vineyard tours, woodland nature trail and wine tasting.
The Chapel Down Winery - The largest producer of English wine in the country. Chapel Down offer a variety of tour and tasting experiences, a well stocked shop and award winning restaurant.
Wildlife & Nature
Our cottages are located in the Whitesand area of Camber Sands between the vast sand dunes and the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) protected marshland so there’s plenty of wildlife right on your doorstep.
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has many miles of paths (many of which are wheelchair accessible), bird hides, salt marsh, lagoons and is dog friendly. It is one of the most important conservation sites in Britain and is also recognised as a SSSI.
Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve is home to many species of birds, animals and plant life. The varied landscape includes meadows, pasture, wooded valleys and clifftop paths with some stunning views of the South East coastline.
Dungeness RSPB Bird Reserve is set back from the sea with miles of open shingle, fresh water pits, grassland and meadows. There are nature trails, hides and an excellent visitors centre.
Camber Sands has plenty to offer watersports enthusiasts of all abilities both on the sea and in the freshwater lakes. Camber Sands offers the ideal conditions for kite surfing and has become a leading centre for this sport with an extensive dedicated zone for kiters. Our cottages are just minutes from the surf and have plenty of space for storage of gear. For those that prefer something only a little less adrenaline-filled there is land boarding, sailing, wake boarding, water skiing and jet skiing.
The Kitesurf Centre offers kitesurfing, land boarding, power kiting and stand up paddle boarding, equipment hire and repair as well as excellent BKSA tuition for all levels.
Camber Kitesurfing also offers excellent BKSA courses and tuition in netsurfing, kite buggies and kite mountain boarding.
Rye Water Sports, based on a freshwater lake just outside Camber, offers dinghy sailing, windsurfing, standup paddle boarding and kite surfing.
Action Water Sports offer fun water-based activities for all the family on their private freshwater lake including wake-boarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, fly-boarding, paddle boarding and fun rides for those who’d just rather be towed along behind a speedboat.
Full Throttle Boat Charters based at Rye Harbour offer power boat and RIB charter as well as exhilarating RIB boat trips.
There are several golf courses in the area including Rye Golf Club, Littlestone Golf Club and Lydd Golf Club, all within a few miles of our cottages.
The quiet roads around the Romney Marsh are perfect for exploring by bike. The Sustrans Costal Cycle Path, which passes right through Camber, is perfect for family rides.
Ebike Hire offers a range of pedal cycles and electric fat bikes, great fun for exploring the coast, lakes, nature reserves and villages of the Romney Marshes.
More Things to do with the kids
Of course, the number one attraction is the sand, miles and miles of it, but if you don't want to spend all your time at the beach, or the weather won't allow it, there are plenty of family attractions in addition to all the castles, gardens and activities mentioned above.
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is something that we enjoyed immensely as kids and is still a firm favourite with our families today. The one third size steam and diesel locomotives travel over 13 miles between Hythe and Dungeness and provide a unique way to experience the Romney Marsh landscape.
Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway is a full size steam railway running between Tenterden and Bodiam. It hosts many special events throughout the year including Thomas the Tank Engine and Santa Specials.
Blue Reef Aquarium, Hastings, gives children the chance to interact with the more friendly sea creatures as well as see stingrays, reef sharks and other aquatic animals and fish.
Hastings Adventure Golf, is right on the seafront at Hastings near the Old Town and offers not one, not two, but three great 18 hole courses to try. They are all huge fun, but our favourite is the Pirate Golf.
Discover the secrets of the smugglers at Smugglers Adventure, Hastings, where you can take a journey though underground caverns and learn more about the area’s smuggling history.
Port Lympne Wildlife Park is home to over 700 animals, including the largest herd of black rhino in the UK, gorillas, giraffe, tigers, lions, leopards and bears.. A truly memorable family day out.
The Rare Breeds Centre at Woodchurch is also a great place to get hands on with the animals, with farm animals, trailer rides, birds of prey, creepy crawlies and indoor play areas too.
The more energetic might like to climb to the top of the Old Lighthouse at Dungeness for spectacular views across one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe.
Clambers Indoor Play Centre at Hastings is also great for letting off steam with the usual mix of slides, climbing equipment and ball pools.
Visit Englands Coast for more ideas
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