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Posts Tagged ‘royal military canal’

An historian writes

Southwards along the Royal Military Canal towards Cliff End

Southwards along the Royal Military Canal towards Cliff End

While writing this post about a recent trip to Rye and the Pett Level, I discovered that the 28 mile Royal Military Canal was constructed at a cost to the public purse of £234,310 which at the time – the early 19th century – was a huge amount of money. The more I read about the Canal, the more it became clear that parallels can be drawn between the construction of the Canal – which was beset by difficulties and overran in terms of both time and money, and was, by its completion, effectively obsolete as the threat of Napoleonic invasion had dwindled – and many construction projects today, proving that the ‘white elephant’ is no modern phenomenon.

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A walk chock full of history across flat marshland and rolling cliffs

Rye to Hastings, East Sussex

Strand Gate, Winchelsea

Strand Gate, Winchelsea

This was quite a strenuous walk: over 15 miles, deceptively easy-going at first across the flatlands of Rye Harbour and the Pett Level, followed by steep climbs up over sandstone cliffs and down into deep wooded gullies. But it was well worth the effort, visiting two charming towns steeped in history, and some glorious coastal countryside rich in wildlife. Including the now-obligatory visit to two wonderful churches, I also managed to pay my respects to a comedy legend, and followed the line of an obsolete defence against Napoleonic forces. All along the route I found evidence of a coastline in constant flux and at repeated risk of invasion.

Halfway to Rye on the train, I realised I’d forgotten my camera. So the pictures in this post, taken with my phone, are a little bit blurry and indistinct, but should give an idea of the landscape encountered on this walk. Think of them as an Impressionist revival.

Start: Rye Station TQ918205

Finish: Hastings Station TQ814096

Length: 15¼ miles/8 hours

How to get there: Rye is on the Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings – I went from St Pancras on Southeastern’s High Speed service to Ashford International, then changed onto Southern’s service across the marshes that clings to the coast towards Brighton; Ashford can also be reached by regular (cheaper) Southeastern services from Charing Cross or Victoria. The return from Hastings is either by Southeastern back to Charing Cross via Tonbridge, or by Southern back to Victoria via Lewes

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