Camber battens down the hatches

On sunny days in the holiday season the seven mile strand can attract more than 25,000 visitors

A cry for help from Camber to the prime minister and the local MP has apparently fallen on deaf ears as “stupid new rules” could see Camber invaded by the crowds who often turn up on the hottest days of the year bringing a wide area to a halt – and now potentially bringing a deadly virus with them.

Camber has already experienced problems during the lockdown as, with the council car parks closed, visitors (some of whom have been fined by police) have parked anywhere they can.

But with new, more permissive rules, it seems likely that visiting the beach is permitted provided you are with “your own household” and meet up with only one other person from a different household – and follow social distancing guidelines.

What’s left after a busy day on the sands at Camber

This is because you can (according to the new government guidelines) spend “time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking or sunbathing” and you can “exercise outdoors as often as you wish – following social distancing guidelines”.

The letter to the PM, circulating around Camber on social media, says “I am writing to you to express my concern for myself and people within my village of Camber Sands. Our village is a small coastal town with a beautiful beach as its main attraction..[and].. “day trippers” have come to our village breaking the lockdown rules since they were announced.

The lockdown is eased

“As law abiding locals we have all kept to the government guidelines because we want to keep ourselves and the vulnerable in our small community safe. [However] on the 10th of May you announced that the lockdown may be eased and people are now free to travel longer distances to “exercise”.

“This has brought great concern to us all, as this weekend that has just passed (May 9) we had seen a huge influx of people who are not from Camber coming into the village and using our beach for things such as BBQs, picnics etc (activities that were not then permitted).

A police car at Camber at Easter

“Our whole community understands that the police are trying their hardest to contain the problem by giving out fines to people who had travelled here – even attempting to close residential streets to stop people using them as car parks.

“Also the car parks in Camber were closed to stop people using them, yet “day trippers” are asking locals to park in their drives or (better still) they are blocking the locals in so they can’t get out of their drives. I hope something can possibly be done to prevent this from happening again until everything is safe”.

Rye News was told on Wednesday night that the central car park may be re-opening, but this report is unconfirmed. Rother District Council officials are said to be considering all the issues.

Local responses to this letter included “the stupid new rules mean people can come quite freely” though if they want to fish “they won’t catch anything… as the fish have found out what’s going on and gone into self isolation”.

Opening a can of worms

One local resident, Carol Macdonald, said she would be “battening down the hatches” as every summer brings marauding hordes to Camber and Boris Johnson has “opened a can of worms”.

“This is a village with elderly and vulnerable people” she continued, and “it is really the case that, if the car parks and toilet blocks are opened , or not, by Rother Council, Camber village is damned if they do and damned if they don’t – as it will be flooded with people with all those health implications”.

On peak sunny days during school holidays Camber Beach has been reported as having around 25,000 people on it – and police have had to divert traffic away from Camber as buses and cars grind to a halt.

People are still trying to visit Camber Sands despite the car parks being closed and public warnings

Image Credits: Tony McLaughlin , John Minter , Carol Macdonald .


  1. I enjoyed (if that’s the right word) your article on Camber battening down the hatches. I think Boris Johnson “opening a can of worms” may actually attract more fish & anglers to Camber sands in addition to the large number of non fishing day trippers.
    Greetings from Belgium
    John Fuller

  2. You could rely on what Boris Johnson called ‘the common sense of the British people’
    Good luck with that one!

  3. Surely the chances of people catching anything in the open air is minimal. If people try to maintain distance and don’t go about hugging every stranger in site on the beach then I can’t see the problem. I think some people are over reacting.

    Anybody would think that visitors to Camber are going to invade the local resident’s homes.

    And yes, I do think most people would show common sense!

  4. With the new opportunity of people driving further for exercise and picnic and sunbathing with social distancing..
    And having to go back to their own homes. Have they thought about Public lavatories being closed and no cafes or restaurants open to use them.
    Saw a man yesterday park his car in Salts carpark rush to the
    Lavatories there to find them locked..He even had a key for the disabled one..

  5. You state that ‘A cry for help from Camber to the prime minister and the local MP has apparently fallen on deaf ears …’ Has a letter been written to Sally-Ann Hart? If so I would expect a response.

    My view on this is that the government has changed the rules and whilst the ‘Stay Alert’ bit seems to be causing confusion, the message on travel is clear: you can travel as far as you want in England (not to Wales or Scotland though) and exercise, or sit down and take in the rays with members of your household + one other person who has to remain at 2 metres distant. So, my daughter who lives in London, can drive down and visit me on Saturday and as long as I meet her outside my house and we stay 2m apart, we can then walk from my house in Rye to Camber, walk, talk and have a picnic on the beach – this seems pretty clear. On Sunday I can drive up to London, meet her in Richmond and wander around Richmond Park as long as we stay 2m apart. You may not like it, but we live in a democracy and most of you voted for Sally-Ann Hart and Boris Johnston, who lead a government who have decided this is safe. We should make this as safe to do as we can and not opening car parks and public lavatories just seems a bit silly.

  6. The real issue is not whether people should be able to visit Camber, the rules clearly say they can. There are two relevant questions though – 1) what is the scientific evidence that suggests we are at a stage where this relaxation of restrictions is sensible? and 2) if it is deemed sensible by the government following that evidence what are the grounds and (as Phil Law points out) the sensibility of keeping car parks and public toilets closed ?
    My own view is that it’s a little too soon but it’s for government to decide providing they are prepared for the outcomes.

  7. Your headline warns of imminent ‘marauding crowds’. Are you even aware of what you’re suggesting? ‘Marauding means ‘ going about in search of things to steal or people to attack’. Are you serious?

  8. I really get fed up with ‘we don’t want you coming here to our village”. Not so hostile during normal times when the visitors keep all the businesses going?

    I’m certain that someone living in high rise block of flats with no garden in a city would look forward to a chance to enjoy the countryside. We’re privileged to live here and enjoy the freedom of our beaches and countryside, don’t blame city dwellers who want to enjoy it too.

    The government have made the rules, if you don’t like I’m afraid it’s just tough.

  9. Residents of Camber know when it’s a lovely day in the summer normally we get lots of visitors, but it’s not a normal situation.

    It’s Wednesday 20th May, Camber is inundated with visitors, parking everywhere, packed on the beach like sardines, driving around dumping their cars where ever, not a policeman to be seen, last week they were parked at the access to the beach turning cars away.

    The visitors have obviously no regard for the residents that live in this small village or themselves for that matter. Do they not understand what social distancing mean?? because they are not going to get it here today.

    Bank Holiday this weekend I expect the hordes will be here again. Selfish

  10. Just had a lovely afternoon on the beach at Camber, the main car parks are now open, and as it’s a huge beach there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy a bit of normality, whilst also maintaining the required levels of social distancing


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