Temperatures soar in Camber chaos

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Mounting chaos at Camber

As UK temperatures hit record highs of 33.3C (91.94F) on the Bank Holiday weekend, August 24-26, Rye’s jazz festival pulled in the crowds, while Camber ground to a halt as the South East headed for the sands.

Elsewhere, though, life was slightly calmer as local farmers harvested their crops on the Marsh (below left) and visitors enjoyed really fresh fish meals at Dungeness (below right).

Harvest time on Romney Marsh, near Newchurch.
Dungeness: Crowds flock to the fresh fish stall for lunch at Dungeness during August Bank Holiday weekend.

Rye, however, was noisy and lively with festival concerts in St Mary’s Church and just as much music in the streets. But back at the railway station rail replacement buses were on standby (just in case) because of the extreme temperatures promised.

The elusive four-carriage train.

Four-coach trains were also promised because crowds of sun-seekers were expected, and a four-coach train had been seen the weekend before. However that was because a fallen tree stopped trains going into Hastings, and two trains were joined together and sent back to Ashford.

Other problems affecting train services included sheep on the line, a points failure, and also an angry swan with its foot stuck somehow under the track – which was a challenge for the rail staff!

On Monday, however, the first bus of the day set off quite normally with a full load – some for Pontins and others for jazz at The Gallivant, whose car park was packed.

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

Meanwhile cars were starting to queue at Camber’s main car park, the beach patrol was busy handing out wrist bands to minimise the number of lost children, and Rother District Council’s coastal officer and a couple of policemen were awaiting the frequent quota of domestic disputes on the beach.

The lifeguards were also ready – though the inflatables got there before their warning flags – and the lifeguards may have been one of the early victims of the growing traffic. Meanwhile though, back in Rye, the bands were hitting the streets.

DAT Brass Acoustic SoundSystem outside the Rye Lodge hotel

The 10:19am bus back to Rye took nearly 20 minutes to load up with departing Pontins’ guests whose luggage was sometimes bigger than they were – and the solid queue of cars already stretched back past the golf course to Salts Farm – and the circus.

And an unmanned electric signboard suggested that Camber might be suffering a few delays …. as our local correspondent Carol Macdonald reports :

“Camber is an iconic beach but…. this past weekend, the bank holiday weekend, the weather was forecast to be exceptionally hot, sunny and ripe for swimming in the sea.

One of several crowded car parks on a warm weekend

Therefore Camber – a village – once again experienced the turmoil of the crowds descending upon the few official car parking facilities and once again the residents experienced some nightmarish scenarios – with parking (see top photo) on both sides of the main road through Camber often causing obstructions.

Residents know better than to venture out on days like these, but it was again disastrous for those not familiar with Camber’s problems. Buses ceased to function at all – giving up in the mornings. And taxi drivers would not touch the trip.

Camber was gridlocked – and the beach was almost at saturation point at high tide.

Many roads were closed to traffic in the Citadel

Back in Rye roads were also closed – but as part of a pre-arranged plan (see photo above) to keep people and cars apart, but moving!

And music was everywhere from Hilders Cliff at one end of the High Street to the Strand at the other end of town.

A band in the Strand attracts the crowds

Image Credits: John Zammo Barlow , Chris Lawson , Rye News library , Ray Prewer , John Minter .

8 COMMENTS

  1. Very dissapointing, spent 35 pounds on tickets to Rye in order to visit Camber Sands just to find out all buses had been cancelled in the afternoon so had to go back home

  2. There’s an awful lot of negativity in this article I think. Most people I have spoken to thought that the BH weekend was a very enjoyable success. I’m bound to say that at a time when our town needs all the help it can get, I would be put off by this reporting if I was a visitor. Please can we have a bit more balance and more enthusiasm! There are a lot of local business owners working very hard to make Rye a success and who deserve your support!

  3. Quite agree. Rye Jazz has come of age and a welcome addition. Never seen the bars and restaurants so full. And from what we could see, the festival brought in those wanting to spend and have a good time in an adult way.
    Bring on 2020.
    Tim Cocking

    • Then perhaps the Festival can be persuaded next year to have a clean up crew round the town very early each morning. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings the town was absolutely filthy.

  4. It seems fairly obvious from this reporting that the problem is too many private cars clogging up Camber, to the extent that public transport cannot even run properly. This is private car madness. We need to nudge people out of cars and on to public transport, bikes, or electric bikes. There are several thriving companies in the Rye areas offering e-bike sales or rentals. No question this is the way to go for a sustainable transport future. Imagine if all those folk who wanted to visit Camber or Rye Harbour were able to do so by e-bike. We need more investment in our infrastructure to make cycling and walking safer and easier. Health, low carbon, communities….need I say more?

    • Spot on, Nick, well said! We simply have to develop immediate and medium term policies which limit the use of private cars and also limit lorry movements. But, however necessary, that requires courageous, stable government….

  5. I am a resident of this area and the bank holidays are a nightmare. I am sorry to say the tourists are selfish and inconsistent and the amount of rubbish they leave is a disgrace which is cleared up by local volunteers

  6. I’m baffled as to where the other five miles of the “seven mile strand” of Camber beach you quote above has gone. As far as I’m aware, it’s around two miles from the lookout post at Jury’s Gap to Rye harbour entrance – and slightly more than half of that stretch is shingle!

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