Camber Castle was built by an order from King Henry VIII to protect England from potential attacked by France and Spain. It is an approximate 1-mile walk from the town of Rye and this is the main detractor for many tourists. It is a very easy flat walk, though, through fields full of reeds, birds, grasshoppers and sheep. The lack of visitors makes for a secluded walk, where one truly feels like the only person in the world! I took a 4.5-mile circular route through the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, marked by the East Sussex Country Council, to reach the castle, located within it.
Built between 1539 and 1544, the castle used to be on a small peninsula surrounded by the sea but now lies in the middle of the reserve. It was meant to be destroyed when the sea receded and made the castle obsolete by the end of the 16th century, but for some reason, most of the walls are still intact today. There is some erosion evident in the sandstone and limestone structure but details in the walls - stones carved as Tudor roses and lions' heads - are still visible. It is a fascinating site where you can imagine what it would be like, living as a member of the garrison, anticipating attacks from your enemies.
The castle is open to visitors every weekend afternoon, between 2 and 5pm, from July to September. The notice board does suggest that tours are available during the rest of the year but must be booked in advance. The guide was a lovely man with a real passion for the castle and was able to answer most of my questions. He even took the time to point out some 16th century graffiti to me - a carving of Henry VIII's face in the wall! This suggests that he had visited the castle but another possibility is that it was copied from a coin.
Although work has been done in the upkeep of the castle, there are some areas that can be potentially dangerous. Steps are very steep and there is limited visibility in some of the unlit tunnels, where headroom is also limited. Young children should not be left unattended. But do not let this warning put you off! This castle is fantastic!
Entrance is £2 for adults and £1 for concessions. Children and English Heritage members are free.