Getting Around

The Nature Reserve and birdwatching hides are open at all times along a network of footpaths - these are shown on our reserve map page

Entry is free. 

It is an ideal place for visitors with limited mobility because the ground is level and most footpaths have a good surface. A private road runs through the Beach Reserve that is good for wheelchairs and all five birdwatching hides are accessible to some wheelchairs.

Access for disabled people

There is a large car park at Rye Harbour that is run by Icklesham Parish Council who ask for a donation to fund this and the adjacent toilets. The toilets have facilities for disabled visitors who have a RADAR key (available from your local council).


In the car park there is an unstaffed kiosk with information displayed on the outside.

If you have visited before, you may have used our Information Cabins. These have been shut since March due to Covid-19, and these will not be reopening.

However, we have recently almost completed a new visitor centre called the Discovery Centre, which will be accessible, have staff and volunteers on hand, have a cafe, toilets, shop and lots of information about the special wildlife on the reserve.

Sussex Wildlife Trust anticipates that the Discovery Centre will be complete in the New Year of 2021, to enable opening in April 2021, but these timescales may be impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

Here are some FAQs and where we regularly update the status of the Discovery Centre.

October/November 2020

Please note that, next to the Discovery Centre, there is temporary section of the road currently rougher underfoot than the tarmac. 

Due to essential works relating to the Discovery Centre, there will be occasional days when that section of the road will need to be closed for the safety of the public and construction workers.

Please keep an eye on this page and check before you travel.

Birdwatching Hides

Beach Reserve

  • John Gooders Hide – fully accessible.
  • Guy Crittall Hide – fully accessible.
  • Ray Parkes Hide – accessible to electric wheelchairs and scooters and some manual wheelchairs (loose stones along path).
  • Steve Denny Hide – accessible to electric wheelchairs and scooters and some manual wheelchairs (loose stones along path).

Castle Water

  • Ken Halpin Hide – in dry weather accessible to electric wheelchairs and scooters; path not easy for manual wheelchairs.


From the car park, a private, mostly tarmac road leads down to the River Mouth. This is some 1200 metres. Along this route there are regular (approx. 100m.) refuges with seating for you to stop and rest.

The Discovery Centre is 450m, the John Gooders Hide is 700m and the Guy Crittall Hide, Ray Parkes Hide and Steve Denny Hide are a further 1500m. These hides give excellent close views of breeding seabirds, ducks and waders and much, much more. The Ken Halpin Hide is close to Camber Castle and overlooks Castle Water giving good views of ducks, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier and Bittern.

WARNING – the private road is used by some large vehicles, especially mid-week during the winter, so please use the refuges along the road to give them plenty of room to pass.

Please maintain social distancing in all of the hides.


The Beach Reserve with its long tarmac road is particularly suitable for wheelchairs and before the Covid-19 crisis, we had mobility scooters for hire - RH mobility scooter.

Due to the current Covid-19 situation, we are currently unable to offer the hire of mobility scooters at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. This will be regularly reviewed in line with Government advice and guidance regarding the use of shared equipment. The Reserve walks and hides remain open with good accessibility to many areas.

Self-propelling, folding wheelchairs can be hired in Rye from Rye Hire click here for details.

Electric and some manual wheelchair users can get around the short circular route that takes in River Mouth and the Gooders, Parkes and Denny Hides.

Public Footpaths

The Rye Bay Countryside area has a wealth of footpaths to explore, with most being fairly easy going. The area is mostly covered by the Ordnance Survey Explorer 125 map. Several circular routes are possible from our map of the nature reserve page.

For the more adventurous, several long-distance footpaths pass close by, including the 1066 Country Walk, the Saxon Shore Way, the High Weald Landscape Trail, the Sussex Border Path and the Royal Military Canal Path. Click here for more details.

ViewRanger Walking Route

Download Rye Harbour Ramble


Cycling is an ideal way to take in the delights of an area as large and flat as the Rye Bay Countryside. The area is well served by several National Cycle Network trails.

Cycles of all kinds as well as self-propelling, folding wheelchairs can be hired in Rye from Rye Hire click here for details.

For further information, free printable leaflets, and routes for cycling in the area, please visit East Sussex County Council's Cycling in East Sussex page and Kent County Council's Cycling in Kent page.