Fry-day at Camber Sands

The Camber cavalcade stretched from Salts Farm

Last Friday, July 31 I set off on a mission, my destination Camber Sands, my objective to witness at first hand what it looked like on a very hot day – a Fry-Day. I got stuck in traffic which started just after Skinners garage on New Road in Rye, and this was around 11 am. The queue continued all the way to central Camber, and it was slow moving – but at least it was moving.

After about 45 minutes I got through the worst and I parked up at Jurys Gap on the far side towards Lydd, left the car and started to walk back along the sea defences to see what was happening on the beaches. Unusually, the car park at Jurys Gap was full but, because there are no marked spaces, the gaps between the cars was much wider than in a normal car park, which prevented others from parking there. The height restriction on the main entrance didn’t seem to worry one driver though who damaged his top box as it was crushed under the barrier.

Later in the day parking started to get really silly

The soft verges at Jurys Gap are a magnet for parking and, despite the concrete bollards, the vehicles were squeezed between them, making the main road so much narrower as they were parked on both sides in places. A coastguard patrol vehicle took quite a time to negotiate through them despite its siren and blue lights flashing and, as for the double decker buses, well this was a different story – a difficult job driving to Rye at the best of times but today, a nightmare for the drivers, and a huge delay for the passengers having to wait.

The coastguard emergency vehicle had real difficulty getting through between the parked cars

The main beaches were absolutely packed, social distancing was difficult if not impossible, despite attempts by some of the visitors, the RNLI lifeguards were present, beach patrols too and, just out to sea, the lifeboat was keeping a close eye on swimmers. Thankfully all the toilets in the area were open, and a wrist band system for children who might get separated from their parents was in operation – but I did hear about one distraught mum who had lost her baby daughter and, fearing she had been abducted, she contacted the police, but they couldn’t attend for at least half an hour as they were also stuck in traffic. But the girl had been found wandering by two middle aged men who kept her safe until reunited with a hugely emotional mother. A happy ending to a story which could have ended so very differently.

In Camber village the parking was seriously problematic and I saw nobody policing it. Pavements were totally blocked in places by parked cars, and mums with prams were having to walk in the road between the queuing traffic to get past them, and tempers were fraying. But the vehicles just kept on coming, and soon the car parks were full, and pavements, verges and double yellow lines were soon filling up instead, and access between was getting more difficult. If an incident had occurred which required emergency services to attend you can imagine the outcome.

An angry local made their feelings known as they came home to find a car on their drive.

Looking at this logically, if you have been ‘holed up’ in lockdown or isolation for weeks on end and you have the opportunity to escape, why not head for the coast even though it was one of the hottest days on record. Living in a flat or confined space, who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to escape to the seaside for the day,  and you can’t blame the visitors for visiting, that’s what visitors do – they also spend money and help the local economy, but at a cost.

I imagine the clear up operation at the end of the day was not a pretty sight, I saw many people just drive off, leaving their bags of rubbish behind them, litter and empty bottles everywhere. People openly urinating when they had to and showing a total disregard for the area, the local residents and other visitors.

It must cost the council to clear up the mess, but I can’t help thinking they have missed a trick. If a traffic warden or two were employed for the day, the fines they could have generated by issuing tickets to illegal parkers could have generated thousands of pounds and, if the carpark at Jurys Gap was to become a pay and display car park, there would be thousands more.

These ‘thoughtful’ motorists couldn’t decide between yellow lines or pavement, so chose both.

Whatever measures were supposed to be put in place to alleviate the problems, caused by such large numbers of summer visitors to Camber, they either didn’t materialise or didn’t work. Camber simply cannot cope safely with the numbers of visitors who want to share our amazing beaches.

Policing the main roads which lead to Camber is essential. Controlling the illegal or inconsiderate parking is also top of the agenda. But adding toilets at Jurys Gap and making it pay and display, should cancel each other out, cover the costs, and produce some additional income if managed properly.

Common sense seems to go out of the window when the sand and sea is within spitting distance, but the situation will not improve until action is taken.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Rye News Library .


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your article.
    It is a double edge sword.
    The local businesses need the income. This year more than ever.
    The residents, in most cases, just want the ‘out of season’ peace and quiet especially this year. What a lovely quiet place Camber was before Boris lifted the lockdown!

    A few weeks ago the police closed the Camber Road when the car parks were full in response to pleas from the locals but the gridlock on the A259 and around Rye was awful as a result. Interestingly visitors were still prepared to abandon their cars in the Rye environs and walk to Camber; children and beach paraphanalia in tow.

    Maybe the provision of ‘park and walk’ rather than ‘park and ride’could be considered utilising one of the fields off the A259 for parking.

    All I know is we need to get imaginative. This is not an unsolveable problem, although Rother and East Sussex Highways would have you believe it was.

    I guess some sort of risk assessment has been done which says the risk vs cost is acceptable but even one life lost is too much in my view and it will happen if steps are not taken to deal with this matter soon.

    And I just want to say what a magnificent job the beach cleaning team do every morning despite the mountains of waste left behind by the visitors. Thanks for your efforts!

  2. Absolutely true. A very accurate description of what is happening here in Camber at the moment. We have been ‘abandoned’, and as you say, heaven forbid a serious incident requiring access. The local MP, Rother D.C. and Police promised that they had it under control after their recent meeting. That is just laughable. Yes, Camber has always been popular, the businesses need money, the locals need jobs, and the visitors want a day out to the coast, but enough is enough. People are just being selfish and disrespectful to the locals. The number of visitors has to be cut and additional parking and services put in place, including fines for illegal parking. All the agencies seem to pass the buck.

  3. I live in Lydd and with Camber being the way its it is impossible to come and go as these selfish people congest the roads from where we are to Rye . Locals are unable to use the beach but we have to clean up after these awful disgusting people
    I dread to think what their home must be like if they treat our environment the way they have. Apart from the fact they seem to have no idea that people actually live here they have totally no regard for anyone or a thing except them selves , they are disgusting . Being in lockdown is a very poor excuse for such selfish disgusting behaviour

  4. I live in Dungeness, and yes, we have a lovely area here. However, to take the kids to the local beach at either Camber or Greatstone is a nightmare and just not even thinkable at this time. To even get to the supermarket, shops, or appointment is also not thinkable because of the excess traffic everywhere. Yes, I agree people have a right to get outside and enjoy the summer and the fresh air. But it shouldn’t come at a cost to locals being unable to go about their day to day business. At the end of school, it took me over two hours to get to Rye to collect my son from school due to the traffic. I even contemplated not sending him the next day – why should my son’s education suffer. I feel for the people in Camber, I used to work there, and couldn’t imaging having to do the same job with the traffic the way it is. I don’t understand, as many have said, why the local people can be ticketed for parking (unloading) during quieter times, when they are not parking obstructively (It has happened to myself several times whilst I was working in Camber and Lydd), yet on hot days when people cannot even get out of their houses, let alone move about the village safely, it just seems to be overlooked. Using the fields, I feel, isn’t an option, as they are farmers fields, used as crops, etc. I believe I read after the earlier gridlock, that Camber would be treated as “event traffic” on hot days, however, this doesn’t seem to have come to fruition. I believe that higher parking fines, a visible traffic warden presence, and removal of cars parked which cause an obstruction is the only way to stop a catastrophe. Regarding the beach rubbish, if the visitors can take it to the beach, surely they can take it home, again, fines and visible patrols issuing fines would deter the problem. I believe, like on Romney Marsh, there are a lot of volunteer litter pickers, and having not seen a council litter picker/street sweeping person for months. I used to see them often with their carts. Makes me think the council have palmed the problem to the locals. Just a shame locals cannot enjoy their local area.

  5. I’ve lived in Camber 52 years I ran a business here too , so I totally understand the business owners need day trippers and relish when it’s great weather especially this year with Covid most of the businesses have adhered to all the government guidelines so they can open safely and that’s great,but where is the duty of care from the council and the police
    The parking has always been a problem but that’s because the police or council do not look at it logically and blame each other as to whose problem it is

    Firstly put proper posts either side of the road running from golf club to the camber signs posts on every other verge including at Jurys gap this is then a clear indication that people cannot park their cars there, and therefore it leaves the main road clear for emergency vehicles to get through and to keep the traffic moving yes it will be expensive to initially do but how much is a life worth if someone dies because the emergency vehicles cannot get through also an antiquated signs saying no parking with a £30 fine is not going to stop people parking On grass verges or any spare bit of road ,it’s a well known fact that day trippers from London etc know there isn’t any ticketing or any other enforcement in place That’s why we need traffic wardens like we used to have but again we are told they haven’t got enough in the budget but it amazes me that we were told there was never any budget for lifeguards on camber beach but once 7 people sadly lost their lives money was found to supply lifeguards. please don’t let the lack of budget mean someone Could lose their life due to the parking issues in camber

    I know how hard it has been with all the cost cutting in councils and policing but this is danger waiting to happen

    The village hasn’t got the infrastructure to cope with the amount of cars it’s not the people that are causing the disruption and distress as we welcome the village being busy but as long as they show respect while they are here which during this virus there has been total lack of it by some visitors
    Please bring Camber into the 21st century and make it a happy and safe place to be not just for visitors but the locals as well


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