High Weald

rye harbour view

Introduction: This 465ha reserve is one of the most important nature conservation sites on the Sussex coast, and is managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust in partnership with other organisations. National and international designations recognise its importance; with intertidal, saltmarsh, reclaimed saltmarsh, drainage ditch, shingle, sand, marsh, open water pit, and scrub habitats. This huge habitat variety has enabled over 3,300 plant and animal species to be recorded on site, including over 150 considered rare or endangered in Britain.

Location: 1.5 miles south of Rye, East Sussex, with the main access – and the Lime Kiln Cottage Information Centre – at Rye Harbour.

What can I do? Explore the Reserve and discover the varied wildlife and habitats. You can do this from the many paths that traverse the site, or from the comfort of a bird hide. The Reserve is an ideal place for visitors with limited mobility, as the ground is level and most footpaths have a good surface. There is a private road that runs through the Beach Reserve which is good for wheelchairs, and all four birdwatching hides are accessible to some wheelchairs.

What can I see? There is great birdwatching at any time of year, with frequent rarities. Typical plants include sea kale, vipers bugloss, yellow-horned poppy and sea pea. Invertebrates include almost 100 rare and endangered species, including the spangled button beetle and the medicinal leech.

What can I hear? Rye Harbour is most famous for its birdlife and typical species you might hear, depending on season, are little tern, common tern, sandwich tern, ringed plover, oystercatcher, redshank, lapwing and wheatear. Also listen out for the distinctive marsh frog!

Information available: A site map and booklet are available to download.  

rye harbour ternGrid reference: TQ945186(OS Map)
OS Map: 125 (Explorer, 1:25,000)
Opening times: All year
Prices: Free

Terrain: Flat concrete paths and stony paths to some hides

Nearest train station: Rye 1.5 miles

Nearest NCN route:: Route 2 runs just to the north of the Reserve between Rye and Winchelsea Beach, with an additional cycle loop passing through the Reserve on surfaced paths.

Where can I park? Car park at the entrance to the nature reserve

Where can I get further information: See the Rye Harbour section of Sussex Wildlife Trust's website.