The small working village of Rye Harbour runs along at its own comfortable pace and it would be unusual if you passed someone without greetings being exchanged. There is something for everyone in Rye Harbour and all within easy walking distance from The Old Vicarage. The sky is always big, a massive expanse with some amazing stars on a clear night and the sea air is always fresh.
The Avocet Art Gallery and Tearoom (open Friday to Sunday) is right next door and serves gorgeous home-made cakes and light lunches. Browse their fantastic range of original paintings and limited edition prints .There is also designer silver jewellery, woodcrafts and ceramics too. The unique range is always changing and regular exhibitions showcase new collections. The perfect place to find unique gifts that remind you of your stay in Rye Harbour.
Walking & Bird Watching
For nature lovers the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is right on our doorstep. There are miles of flat easy paths and plenty of bird hides & benches dotted around to sit and take it all in. Ideal for walking, jogging or cycling.
For the adventurous walkers it is possible to walk westwards along the coast to Winchelsea, Pett Level and even onto the Firehills and Hastings Country Park barely stepping foot on a road.
It is a 10 or 15 minute stroll down the shore road ( a made-up road not open to public traffic) to the beach. Our beach is shingle, with a sand spit being revealed at low tide. The ideal spot for beachcombing. Or if it’s sandy beaches you are after, the famous Camber Sands are just across the river mouth which you can see across the River (although a 5 mile drive as you have to head back into Rye town to cross the river).
The tower just outside The Old Vicarage is number 28 and known as the Enchantress Tower; it can be viewed from the outside and gives its name to one of our bedrooms.
Henry VIII had this fort built to defend Rye from attack; it now lies just over a mile from the sea, within the Nature Reserve. It is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from August to October for those who want to explore within the walls, but you can walk to it at any time of the year and view from the outside.
Mary Stanford Lifeboat House
Reached by a short walk along the beach front this lifeboat house has not been used since the dreadful day of 15th November 1928 when tragically all 17 Rye Harbour lifeboat men lost their lives in what remains to this day, the biggest loss of life from a single lifeboat.
The Harbour & Boating
A short stroll from the Old Vicarage takes you to the harbour itself, where you can sit and watch the comings and goings of a working harbour. The RX registered boats from Rye’s commercial fishing fleet go to sea daily bringing back many delights such as Rye Bay Plaice or the renowned Rye Scallops, celebrated each year during a two week Scallop festival ( see Events for dates).
Visible from the Old Vicarage is the blue building that is the current RNLI Lifeboat Station. Manned by local volunteers with the new Atlantic B class lifeboat Hello Herbie II.
There is a public slipway located next to the Lifeboat Station. If you have your own boat or jet-ski you can purchase daily permits to use the facility. With a small chandlery and workshop right in the harbour it is an ideal base for a boating holiday. We can make room in the driveway for you to bring your trailer in off the road (depending on size!) and even secure your jet ski in the garage overnight if you’d like. If you prefer to let someone else take the strain of launching and recovery Full Throttle Boat Charters offer charters from the harbour.
Daily tide times are displayed in the porch at The Old Vicarage, so you can choose whether to walk on the sand, which is uncovered at low tide or be the first to beach comb along the line of the high tide once it has turned to run back out. The constant ebb and flow of the river can be watched from the Old Vicarage, on the highest Spring tides it even covers the salt marsh and reaches up to the foot of the flood defence banks. During these tides there is often a small Coaster (up to 150ft long) to be seen delivering cargo to the Wharf.
Cyclists are well catered for with most of the surrounding land being relatively flat. If you bring your own cycles we are more than happy to secure them in our garage for you overnight and if you don’t have your own bicycle there is no excuse as we have some available for you to borrow!
If your idea of a true break is being able to leave the car in the car park for your entire stay, it is quite possible. There is an hourly bus service into Rye Town during the day, Monday – Saturday, (no buses on Sunday I’m afraid) if you exhaust all that Rye Harbour has to offer.
Venture a little further afield and you will find many attractions to visit within a twenty-mile radius. Castles (Camber & Bodiam), Historic Houses (Smallyhythe Place & Lamb House), Gardens (Great Dixter & Sissinghurst), Market Towns (Battle & Tenterden), Steam Trains, (Romney,Hythe & Dymnchurch & Kent & East Sussex), Vineyards (Chapel Down & Carr Taylor) – and many more National Trust & English Heritage places.
So as many of our guests find, if you stay a few days you will have just scratched the surface of this little corner of East Sussex.