What shall we do today?
Certainly, if you are here with children, you’ll find it hard to drag them off the sands to do anything else. And if the weather’s not good enough for sunbathing but you’d still like to explore the beach, how about going on a Dune Safari? There’s a full guide to what you can see here.
But what about when it’s wet?
Or if you feel the need for a bit of stimulation and a change of scene?
You’ll find links to a wide range of things to do on this page – a mix of things we’ve enjoyed ourselves and that guests at Dunescape have recommended.
And if you need to check out the weather forecast, you can do that here
You’ll find a range of family-friendly activities here. Those that are good for rainy days marked with a *. For some entries, that may mean part but not all the venue – such as a house but not the garden – is suitable.
*A day pass to Pontins Camber Sands £5 an adult, £2.50 per child, or double that if you want a meal thrown in.
There’s a full list of indoor and outdoor activities here Pontins has a heated indoor swimming pool for when the sea’s less than inviting.
*Rye Heritage Centre
*Hastings Smuggler’s Adventure, Blue Reef Aquarium, 1066 Story at Hastings Castle. All here
*Stade Family Fun Park– seafront amusements and rides, plus world-class crazy golf. Seriously, they’ve held the world championships there. No website but find it on the seafront running west from Hastings old Town
*Bexhill Leisure Centre, indoor pool with flume at Bexhill
*Tenterden Leisure Centre indoor pool at Tenterden
*Kent and East Sussex Steam Railway, Tenterden to Bodiam
*The Mill Toy and Pedal car Museum – right by the station at Northiam on the railway listed above.
*Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, miniature coastal railway, often running steam trains during holidays
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park
South of England Rare Breeds Centre, Ashford
Lathe Barn petting farm, Burmarsh, Romney Marsh
There are other family-friendly farms listed here
Walks and cycle rides
There are 250 miles of footpaths and bridleways in the Rye Bay area including long distance and circular walks.
Camber to Rye on the cycle path (left). The route runs from the eastern edge of the village to Rye following the route of an old tramway, built in Victorian times when Camber’s golf course opened and the first seaside visitors came.
Camber Castle walk
Camber to Lydd on the cycle path. The path begins at the eastern edge of the village, and runs along the top of the sea wall, so you get great sea views; passes through the car park on the kite surfers’ beach; and then turns inland just past Jury’s Gap, shadowing the road.
Short walks around Iden
Longer Walks (all on the Explorer 125 map)
Rye to Appledore and Ham Street along the Royal Military Canal. This route exploits the Marshlink railway that runs from Rye to Ashford and serves the villages of Appledore and Ham Street, with good pubs along the way.
You can walk out and train-it back.
Rye to Peasmarsh and the High Weald. This walk starts off alongside the Royal Military Canal from Rye, then follows the River Rother to Peasmarsh. From there you climb up to the High Weald and join the High Weald Landscape Trail path for a spectacular descent back into Rye.
Adrenalin and other sports
There is kite surfing on the beach to the east of Camber, a wind surfing school on the way to Rye, and boat trips for both fishing and sightseeing from Rye Harbour. You can learn to fly a light aircraft, or race go-karts. Perhaps you’d rather hire some bikes. You’ll find links to a full range of activities here.
Wind surfing, dinghy sailing and kit surfing: Rye Watersports
Water skiing, jet skis: Action Watersports at Lydd
Flying lessons, from a learn-to-fly taster to a private pilot’s licence programme, from Lydd Aero Club, Lydd Airport They have a simulator, too, if you’d rather not leave the ground.
Go-kart racing at Lydd Kart Circuit
Horse riding. Grove Farm, Iden
Cycle hire, Rye Hire, Rye
Sea fishing at Dungeness: Fair Chance, 01797 363544
Sea fishing and resources at Hastings
Fishing inland around Rye
Historic houses and other heritage sites
*St Mary’s church, Rye. Fantastic views (left) over the town and the surrounding countryside from the tower.
*Lamb House, Rye. Former home of writers Henry James and E F Benson (whose books are in the bookcase upstairs at Dunescape)
*Rye Castle museum. At the Ypres tower and East Street in Rye
*St Anthony of Padua, Rye
Bodiam Castle. The perfect, moated castle at Bodiam
Battle Abbey. Former monastery on the site of William’s defeat of Harold in 1066. At Battle
Great Dixter House and Gardens. Legendary gardener Christopher Lloyds’s remarkable gardens, seven miles from Rye
*Smallhythe Place. Victorian actress Ellen Terry’s early 16th-century house and cottage gardens. Near Tenterden
Film-maker Derek Jarman’s shingle garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness
Port Lympne Gardens, Port Lympne
*Sissinghurst Castle and gardens. Vita Sackville West’s former home at Sissinghurst
*Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s former home, Burwash
Countryside, birds and nature
Dungeness bird observatory, an important migration point, is a staging post for both British and Continental landbird migrants, and well-placed for the observation of seabird passage. Regular special events
Rye Harbour Nature reserve (left), extends south from Rye along the River Rother, past Rye Harbour to the sea; westward to Winchelsea Beach and northwards along the River Brede. Great for walks and wildlife
Hastings Country park, over 267 hectares of ancient woodland, heathland and grassland together with 3 miles of dramatic cliffs and coastline. Guide here
Guestling Wood, a typical High Weald ancient woodland with a network of paths and rides http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/our-woods/Pages/wood-details.aspx?wood=4060#.T0KCjXIzVe4
Boat trips on the river Rother
Cinema, arts and entertainment
Kino, Rye or Hawkhurst
Odeon Cinema, Hastings
Electric Palace Cinema, Hastings
De la Warr Pavilion, art exhibitions and live events, Bexhill
White Rock Theatre, traditional seaside shows, Hastings
Farms, vineyards, Sussex food and drink
Rye Farmers’ Market. Every Wednesday, Strand Quay
Salts Farm Shop, just as you join the A259 on the way to Rye
Carr Taylor Vineyards, Tenterden
Chapel Down Vineyard, Tenterden
Other local vineyards and brewers listed here: http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/leisureandtourism/foodanddrink/vineyardsandbreweries/default.htm
The Filo Brewing Company and the First In Last Out pub, Hastings old Town
Not the bog-standard stuff, the interesting version. Hastings Old Town and St Leonards have won great reputations for a fantastic range of interesting art, antique, homeware and other independent shops, plus great bars, cafes and restaurants.
Rye – good on art, books, homeware and gifts from independent shops
Hastings Old town – many unique independent cafes, homeware, art shops, bookstores and more Here’s our take on the old town’s High Street, which we reckon is one of the finest streets you’ll find anywhere for shopping, browsing, eating and just hanging around. You’ll find our shop-by-shop run-down here
St Leonards – many unique independent stores
Tenterden small town centre with a ‘county’ feel