Things to Do, Places to Go
in and around Camber Sands
It goes without saying that the number one attraction at Camber Sands is the miles and miles of sandy beach, Camber Sands beach is one of the best beaches in the south of England for a bucket and spade sandcastle building day. Camber Sands is also well know as a centre for kite surfing and water sports.
However, there are loads of other things to do around Camber – choose from historic castles and gardens, family attractions and more. Here is our guide to some of the things you might do on your Camber Sands getaway.
Towns nearby to explore...
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. This little town 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. It has 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. Wander through the cobbled streets and narrow alley ways (known locally as twittens) and enjoy the views from its elevated position over the surrounding marshland towards the sea. The best views are from the Gun Gardens and the top of the church tower.
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. Winchelsea is a pretty town, although no larger than many villages, with an impressive church and a pub. It also has a well stocked delicatessen where you can also get a decent cup of tea or coffee.
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 and the Adventure Golf.
Believed to be the site of the great Battle of Hastings in 1066 the town grew around the Abbey of St Martin. Battle Abbey is 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.
Canterbury is just over an hour’s drive from our cottages at Camber Sands. Canterbury’s cathedral is probably one of the most famous religious buildings in the world. It and the many other ancient buildings in this city make Canterbury a popular tourist destination.
Historic houses and castles...
Bodiam Castle (National Trust)
Bodiam is one of the most impressive 14th century moated castles you are likely to see, built in 1385 to be both a defence and comfortable home. The outside wall is virtually complete and enough of the interior remains to give an impression of medieval castle life. A fantastic place for a family day out, kids love it.
Lamb House (National Trust)
This charming Georgian house in Rye has been the home of many authors over the years including Henry James and EF Benson. The cottage garden is delightful.
Scotney Castle (National Trust)
Scotney Castle 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 (National Trust)
A beautiful country house and working water mill once home of the Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling. There are lovely estate walks and gardens to explore as well as the mill which, although currently undergoing restoration, can still be visited and will be grinding flour again soon.
Smallhhythe Place (National Trust)
Smallhythe Place is an early 16th century house and colourful cottage garden which once belonged to the actress Ellen Terry. There is also a small theatre in the barn and vintage tea room.
1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield (English Heritage)
In the year 1066 the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed at the Battle of Hastings. This site is is widely believed to be the site of this battle. Visit the 1066 battle field, visitors centre and abbey remains for an interesting, educational and fun day out.
Camber Castle (English Heritage)
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 (English Heritage)
Dover Castle has centuries of history, from the Romans to the Cold War. You can visit the oldest serving lighthouse in the country, explore the medieval Great Tower, the underground wartime hospital and discover the Secret Wartime Tunnels.
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!
This glorious garden 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.
These gardens at Ticehurst are also wonderfully colourful, particularly in late spring when they hold a truly magnificent tulip festival.
Sissinghurst Castle (National Trust)
The late Vita Sackville-West’s gardens at Sissinghurst Castle 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. In springtime the daffodils are incredible.
Derek Jarman's Garden
Garden fans will also enjoy this small garden at Prospect Cottage, home of film producer Derek Jarman, at Dungeness. It is well worth stopping at on a drive out to Dungeness. Jarman’s garden is an eclectic mix of beach finds, sea kale, poppies and shingle around 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. 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. Some also have restaurants and shops stocking not only their wines but also offering local and regional food and craft products.
Just behind the Romney Marshes on the hills 11 miles from Camber Sands, Gusbourne Vineyard produces a range of award winning sparkling and still wines. All Gusbourne wines are produced from grapes sourced solely from their own vineyards. We recommend booking one of their guided tours and tastings or just pop in for a free self-guided tour. Dogs are welcome on the self guided estate tours.
Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard producing award winning wines, ciders and juices. The vineyard is open to visitors throughout the year, just pop in for a self-guided tour or book online for guided tours, dogs on leads are welcome.
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.
Seddlescombe 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 largest producer of English wine in the country. Chapel Down offer a variety of tour and tasting experiences, a well stocked shop and a two AA Rosette award winning restaurant. They also brew a selection of beers and distill some remarkably good gins.
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
The Kitesurf Centre based on the beach at Broomhill Sands in Camber 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 offers excellent BKSA courses and tuition in kitesurfing, kite buggies, kite land-boarding, river and sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) as well as power kite experiences.
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. They also have a great aqua park for ages over 6 years and up.
Full Throttle Boat Charters
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. Rye Golf Club is a private club, if you wish to play as a visitor you will need to check with the Club first.
Cycling and Walking
The quiet roads around the Romney Marsh are perfect for exploring by bike. The Sustrans Coastal 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.
There are both coastal and country walks from the cottages and in the local area. You will find maps and route suggestions in the cottages which are available to borrow during your stay.
Wildlife and 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
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has many miles of paths (many of which are wheelchair accessible), bird hides, salt marsh, lagoons and is dog friendly (the bird areas are well fenced in!). It is one of the most important conservation sites in Britain and is also recognised as a SSSI. There is an excellent visitors centre and cafe too which is dog friendly.
Hastings Country Park
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
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.
The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway
The “little train” is something that we enjoyed immensely as kids and is still a firm favourite with our families today. Its 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.
The Kent and East Sussex Steam Railway
The Kent and East Sussex 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.
Port Lympne Wildlife Park
Port Lympne is a breeding sanctuary for rare and endangered animals and 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.
South of England Rare Breeds Centre
The South of England 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.
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.
The Old Lighthouse
Clambers Indoor Play Centre
Great fun for the kids and a good rainy day option at Hastings.
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