Day trip to Rye

Rye Travel Blog

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The sign of the times! New lovely display boards for fast speed trains in St.Pancras. Olympics 2012, here we come!

Sleep was good, and the weather in about 12 hours had done a complete flip. When we reached London it was clear skies and mid 20Cs, now it was London-Londoney sort of weather, a bit gloomy, and surprisingly very chilly. I normally pride in not wearing a jumper even in this kind of weather, but I succumbed.

I saw my parents off who were headed to Edinburgh on the train, and then I made my way up to the plush new platforms of St.Pancras. I was quite impressed with the new timetable boards and the fast trains. These trains are so much better than the ones I saw in Italy. The journey to Rye was a bit of a bore.

The start of Mermaid Street in Rye, one of the most pictured streets in the UK after Arlington Row in the Cotswolds (which also, I had the pleasure of visiting)
We had to change trains at Ebbsfleet, but reached Rye about 1:15hrs later. 

I don't know what to make of Rye - I can tell you why I decided to visit this place. I was going through my "25 great day trips from London" and figured that Rye is one of the few places I've not been to (the others were a bit far, or seemed like a full day was needed unlike Rye where a couple of hours would suffice). When I left the railway station and started walking towards city centre, there was a part of me that was thinking "why did I choose this place, looks rather dull"; be that as it may, in the cold I might add, I walked towards the tourist information centre.

A little history about Rye - Rye was considered one of the finest of the Cinque Ports even though constant work had to be undertaken to stop the gradual silting-up of the river and the harbour.

The legendary Mermaid Inn where smugglers used to openly get together
With the coming of bigger ships and larger deepwater ports, Rye's economy began to decline, and fishing and particularly smuggling became more important. Because of imposition of taxes on goods, by the end of the 17th century smuggling became widespread throughout Kent and Sussex, with wool being the largest commodity. When luxury goods were also added, smuggling became a criminal pursuit, and groups - such as the Hawkhurst Gang who met in the Mermaid Inn in Rye - turned to murder and were subsequently hanged. With such an interesting history, I just had to explore.

With a tourist map in hand and the "path" drawn out, I made my way towards the biggest attraction of the town - Mermaid Street. I could see now why Rye is so popular with tourists. It's nothing new. I swear I didn't have any "ooh" or "aah" moments like I did when I first saw the Cotswolds, or the Lake District or more recently, even Whitby.

Another view of Mermaid St looking down
But the town is just so so English, so English that you have everything out of a tourist book in front of your eyes.

Mermaid Street for example - it's narrow, it's winding, it's uphill, it's got COBBLED PAVEMENTS and it's got houses with creepers growing on the walls. AND - lest we forget, it has an INN! Throw in some football stars and some rock stars and that's "cliched England" for you! I never thought that I'd be taking so many pictures here, but I did succumb. None were "new", but all were pretty nonetheless. I walked along the path to the Church, and from there to the tower, and in and around the city. One of the advantages of arriving in a "touristy town" early is that the crowds haven't come in yet. So I got plenty of time to take pictures of empty streets (and trust me, in every corner, there's half a dozen photo opp's!) and lovely gardens and the general English countryside.

By noon, the crowds had started to pick up. I treated myself to some cream tea (I hadn't so far!) which was sort of my lunch, bought a bag of crisps and headed back to the train station for the hourly train to London. I was sleepy! The weather still was a bit chilly but nothing too unbearable. All in all, very pleasureable trip so I'm glad I went.

Dr_Seuss says:
Interesting history :)
Posted on: Jun 14, 2010
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The sign of the times! New lovely …
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Overlooking the Sussex green
Overlooking the Sussex green
Rye
photo by: Vikram