Let the train take the strain

04 July 2018 | Posted in Barry Yates , Rye Harbour
Let the train take the strain
Rye Station

… was the 1988 slogan to encourage people to use trains, and 30 years later there is an even greater need to encourage the use of public transport. At peak times, here in the crowded southeast, our roads are blocked with cars and car parks are overflowing and we all suffer with frequent poor air quality.

The Climate Change Act of 2008 set a long-term framework for greenhouse gas reduction in the UK and requires the Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. So, as an environmental organisation SWT wants to encourage more people to consider exploring the countryside by public transport, rather than by car. There are many great wildlife sites in Sussex to visit by rail or bus, and here are just a few suggestions made to me by people who do just this…

Abbott's Wood, Ardingly Reservoir, Arundel, Amberley, Arlington Reservoir, Ashdown Forest, Beachy Head, Beacon Hill LNR (Rottingdean), Brooklands Lagoon and Park (Worthing), Castle Hill and Stanmer Park (Falmer), Chichester Harbour, Cuckmere  Haven, Filsham Reedbeds (St Leonards), Forewood (Crowhurst), Friston Forest, Gillham Wood (Cooden), Hollingbury Wild Park LNR (Brighton), Lullington Heath, and Newhaven Tide Mills (Newhaven Docks station), Malling Down and Southerham Farm (Lewes), Pagham Harbour, Pevensey Levels, Pulborough Brooks, Rodmell Brooks (Southease), Rye Harbour, Seaford Head, Shoreham Harbour, Widewater Lagoon & Beach (Lancing),

When planning your trip this website may be useful www.traveline.info

As the manager of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve I am concerned that our recorded increase in visitors causes problems on our local roads and car parking on “Peak Days” - which are New Year’s Day, Bank Holidays, fine summer weekends and Boxing Day, but most visitors at peak times are coming for walks to the beach and not to see the wildlife. Our “Peak Months” are July and August. The estimated 362,783 visits in 2017 represented a 63% increase from 2001 (when car counting began) and a 9% increase from 2016!

Car park 2017

 So we want to promote travelling by rail and visiting at “off peak times” which are Spring, Autumn and Winter. We have been working with the Sussex Community Rail Partnership to promote the Marshlink line (Ashford to Eastbourne) by leading  guided walks to Camber Castle that start at Rye station.

Visiting Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, right over in the far east of Sussex, can be straightforward by train. Arriving at Rye from London, Ashford, Eastbourne or Brighton in Spring you should first listen out for Turtle Doves, Blackcaps and Nightingales from the platform! Then a 10 minute walk through the town and you are at the northern part of the reserve, Castle Farm. Walking the mile to Camber Castle through fields of sheep, you pass a 1940’s Stanton Shelter and then across old shingle ridges to Henry VIII’s fort and then to the nearby hide overlooking Castle Water giving good views of wetland wildlife year round, now including Marsh Harrier, Bittern and Great White Egret. 

Winter bittern 1020385

Follow the footpaths to the south and you pass other gravel pits that are great for wintering ducks, then the southern part of the reserve and the shore for seabirds. Walk east towards the river Rother, passing the Mary Stanford lifeboat house with its sad history and then visit some or all of the other four hides, look over the saline pools with their islands full of nesting birds or roosting waders, the shingle ridges with colourful flowers or the new saltmarsh with flocks of wintering waders, including the Golden Plover. In Rye Harbour village there is a range of facilities for refreshment before you walk back through Castle Water to Rye (or you can catch the hourly bus back – not Sundays).

Small hut 01310

It’s about 7 miles of walking, but it’s flat and full of wildlife at any time of year – you can see 60 species of bird, but in May nearly 100 is possible. See the footpaths from the map or leaflet on our website www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/ryeharbour where you’ll also find details of monthly wildlife and local facilities.

So why not give it a try and let the train take the strain.