A village invaded


Having lived in Rye Harbour for fourty years before moving back to Rye three years ago I’ve noticed a distinct change in the traffic and road condition. Rye Harbour at 5pm on a Wednesday and the car park was packed. The approach road to the car park and holiday camp was also busy with parked cars, the main road through the village also has so many cars around the area of Tram Road. It is a common bottleneck. It’s obvious why it’s become so busy and that’s the new visitors’ centre, it was always a concern that this would happen so no surprises there then.

The state of the road itself through the village would be a credit to some third-world countries, no good blaming the trucks, the vast majority don’t come that far. There is a nucleus of hard working villagers who are rightly proud of their village but I feel for them with this invasion taking advantage of the £3m centre that appears to have blighted the lives of the locals.

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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  1. I sympathise with Tony Edwards, but is he certain that the owners of the cars in question are there for the birds? I don’t think so. It is a dog walkers’ paradise. Let them off the lead at the beginning of the “Dog Poo Track”, walk straight past the fabulous new Discovery Centre (who wants to know about birds, etc?), not notice that their dogs have relieved themselves, including near the lovely new seating on the gravel near the cafe where I have seen toddlers playing, and then, after a glimpse of the sea, (if they get that far) wend their way back to the cars, completely oblivious to this revolting mess.

    Our marvellous nature reserve caters primarily it appears to dog walkers. My frequent belly-aches about this are politely acknowledged and my suggestions regarding a sign for dogs being on leads (so that their owners can pick up after them) declined. At the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Woods Mill Nature Reserve “There are no dogs allowed (except assistance dogs) at Woods Mill nature reserve, as this is our environmental education centre. We request that dogs are kept on leads, especially during the bird nesting season, to minimise disturbance to vulnerable wildlife”. A pity this doesn’t apply to our superb nature reserve which I no longer feel able to visit. I do not have a dislike of dogs, incidentally, just their thoughtless owners.

  2. Margot Dixon as a dog walker I have to agree with a number of your points about dog owners.
    My biggest concern as a Rye Harbour resident is the speed of the cars coming through the village. I havenearly been run over a few times. Once a bin lorry was double parking temporarily and a car overtook at speed and mounted the pavement I was walking along. The bin men stood with mouths open and told me to chase the car into the carpark! I was too shocked to do so!
    I have suggested sleeping policemen all down through the village but this would require street lighting which is not acceptable to some residents.
    The caravan site has the sleeping policemen and it makes for a greatly safer environment!
    Are we waiting for someone to be killed? We have lots of children and elderly in the village who are at risk. I was able to flatten myself against a wall to avoid being hit and I am lucky enough to be both elderly and fairly nimble!

  3. Dogs ,cars, blame who you like but the real Crux of the matter was little thought was given to the immediate environment when this new centre was built, money was plentiful and sadly that seems was the order of the day,with no thought or consideration for the villagers, and others trying to negotiate the dangerous junction at the top of the harbour road.

  4. I so agree with all the comments. I lived in Rye Harbour many years ago and now, sadly, don’t visit mainly due to the proliferation of loose dogs. Margo is right about the amount of mess left. I greatly dislike loose dogs and particularly the owners who say, “ Don’t worry he or she will just lick” , no thank you.

  5. I agree with much of the above. My husband and I are dog owners and have walked dogs on the reserve for years. I have to say though that we have always cleared up after them when necessary. My biggest beef is that the majority of cyclists using the metalled road do not ring their bells when they are approaching walkers from behind. There are so many cyclists using the road now and I have nearly been knocked over on a number of occasions. I wish there were signs at both ends of the road asking cyclists to use their bells when appropriate.

  6. There were many objections to the new centre from villagers who were concerned about the resulting traffic impact on Rye Harbour. These concerns were completely ignored. The fact that the number of cars has increased with the opening of the centre surely indicates that the centre is responsible rather than a coincidental increase in dog walkers!

  7. I was born and lived at Rye Harbour for twenty years and visit every so often, The Harbour road is what I can only describe as being a disgrace, how the residents put up with this excuse for a road is beyond belief especially after the government are funding the roads to be resurfaced via the councils in the area (tell me I’m not just dreaming)

  8. I couldn’t agree more with Tony Edwards, I walk my dog there regularly and was reminded of how quiet it was 10 years ago by a Facebook memory which popped up. On a Sunday – possibly 20 cars in the carpark and a few walkers, bird watchers and dog walkers.

    I don’t think you can blame the new Discovery Centre, the throngs of people arrived during lockdown before it was open, I think Barry Yates, the Reserve Manager could verify.

    It’s a shame that this quiet village has become so popular with visitors but please don’t blame the new centre. Everywhere in the UK has become crowded, the roads are unbelievably busy as people stay at home rather than abroad.

  9. Blaming the invasion of Rye Harbour on the opening of the Discovery Centre clearly suits an agenda. I would argue however that it is far from the reality. The Harbour has got busier in each of the 6 years I have lived here. In the last few years the walks around the nature reserve have regularly featured in the National Papers “20/50 favourite walks”. Robert Bathurst has been here advertising the Reserve and area on ITV and the Harbour featured on a Michael Portillo “Great British Railway Journeys” earlier this year on the BBC.

    Rye Harbour has been extremely busy since the first Covid lockdown last year when many people thought it would be nice to take their daily exercise walking or cycling around the reserve. And of course it is very nice. Then, you have the added factor of people taking holidays in the UK rather than going abroad. I imagine the Caravan Park has had its busiest year ever this year. All the holiday lets have been fully booked for months since holidays in the UK were permitted again. Day trippers come in their scores however many are surprised it is so far to the beach. Several have never seen a gull before or a tide that goes in and out. It’s a more relaxing alternative to queuing to get to Camber.

    The William the Conqueror is now an eating place where you can get a drink, rather than a pub that does food, attracting a different clientele.

    The Discovery Centre only opened its doors in early July. I don’t think it has made any difference to visitor numbers to Rye Harbour – they have all been coming anyway. One of the things that I hope will be a benefit from the Centre will be its educational role in teaching children to appreciate nature, to look after the environment, to tidy up and take their rubbish home and to not let their dogs leave their mess everywhere.

    The road – our potholes are never deep enough to be filled because the tarmac is laid on concrete and not thick enough. Traffic is a nightmare made worse through on line shopping with several white vans a day making deliveries, the size of the cars. Some visitors are even reluctant to go into the car park as I expect they don’t want to make a small donation to the upkeep of the car park and toilets. Others think the bus turning circle is a car park. Reducing the speed limit to 20mph in the village would help.

    The worst change of the last couple of years however is the number cyclists who insist on riding along the footpaths – both sides of the road in the village, where there are several front doors opening directly onto those footpaths. If this does not stop, one day some one will get hurt very badly- there have already been very near misses.

    Despite all this there are far worse and much busier places to live.

  10. My perception of living in the village is pretty much identical to Andrew Whittaker’s – I don’t see what difference the Discovery Centre has made to visitors in the wider context of Covid and lockdowns. What is clear is that the open-access of the nature reserve and the quiet character of the village is a major contributor to the local economy, with a lot of local jobs now dependent on visitor numbers.

    Access for visitors clearly needs to be improved, including the Harbour Road, the cycle path/line on the pavement and the dangerous junction with the A259. East Sussex’s failure to even acknowledge this is an issue is particularly galling.

  11. Regarding the main road at Rye Harbour, a bit of a lame excuse to say the tarmac is not thick enough, I have to chuckle to myself. Driving a car takes skill and judgment ,what you don’t want is to keep avoiding potholes in the road, hopefully no one will get hurt!!

  12. Nobody has an issue with the new visitor centre, as i have said in my previous post, its the infrastructure that was not put in place when it was built, road improvements including some yellow lines to make the village more accessible to visitors and locals alike,which has caused numerous problems, and of course the dangerous junction at the top of the harbour road,that someone is in denial of.


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