Archive for East Guldeford

A Good Thing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 28, 2018 by cliffdean

Friday: the East Guldeford loop with Slow But Sure: down the Rother to the rivermouth, across to Camber and the Wainway Wall, back through Moneypenny. In the bright sunshine, a Mistle Thrush is singing in the tall trees by the fishing boats.

Since I was last here, something amazing has happened. For years, the banks of the river have been piled with rubbish, appalling amounts of plastic which shamed a picture-postcard town which prides itself as a prime regional tourist destination. (In fact, a blind eye is turned to litter in other parts of Tinseltown, especially the Cattle Market car park. On return from Cuba a couple of years ago I found it shockingly filthy compared with Havana.) Well, I hadn’t done anything about it either – such a mass of junk could not easily be cleared. (Wrong.) I’ve been searching through my photos for a “before” image for comparison but failed to find one. turning a blind shutter too.

Sometime around Christmas a lady came into the RHNR information centre to report how saddened she’d been by the squalor of the riverside upstream of Rye, asking if the reserve could do anything. I explained that the reserve has its hands full clearing the beach but suggested some potentially helpful contacts. I later discussed the problem with Andy Dinsdale, who organises Beach Cleans in other parts of Rye Bay (see Rye Bay Beachcombing Facebook page).

And that was it, till suddenly I see that the owners of Rye’s Mermaid Street Cafe had just got in touch with their friends and organised work parties, contacted Rother DC to cart away the spoil. In just two sessions of this brilliant Citizen Action they made an incredible difference.

Photos thanks to Rye Bay Beachcombing on Facebook

Since the refuse had accumulated over decades, it seems reasonable to hope that after this mass clearance little effort will be required to maintain a clean riverbank.

Thanks to Tim Waters for making Rye Harbour look like Mariupol

Following this metaphorical ray of sunshine, a thick mist drifted in. Apart from the usual Redshanks and a lolling Common Seal, wildlife sightings were restricted.

Once we got out to the Wainway Wall, we found a herd of 115 Mute Swans – about a quarter of the Romney Marsh winter population, accompanied by an Egyptian Goose, and lurking in the reeds round Moneypenny Pit, a long white neck ended in the long yellow bill of a Great Egret, now a regular bird in many of our wetlands.


An Unanticipated Insight Into The History Of Wheelbarrows

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 11, 2017 by cliffdean

During a walk from Rye through East Guldeford to Camber & back up the Rother some vexing questions were tackled thanks to the Wonders of the Internet.

The first concerned the tools available to those who constructed the huge mediaeval sea defences such as the Wainway Wall. While I’d go for (wooden) shovels loading pack-horses, another view was that wheelbarrows would also have been used. I contested this since I had some dim & distant recollection that these essential items, rather than having been created by God as a helpful afterthought sometime late on the Sixth Day, had not been introduced since the thirteenth century.

A few minutes’ squinting at my phone, without glasses and in bright sunlight, revealed that, though I was not wrong, the story is a long one, meriting an extensive entry on Wikipedia. The first records come from China in the second century CE. These generally had a centrally-mounted wheel and could carry large loads of drawn by an animal & steered from behind by the carter. Some even had sails to assist them.

“…during the Red Eyebrows Rebellion (c. 20 CE) against Xin dynasty‘s Wang Mang (45 BCE–23 CE), the official Zhao Xi saved his wife from danger by disguising himself and pushing her along in his lu che barrow, past a group of brigand rebels who questioned him, and allowed him to pass after he convinced them that his wife was terribly ill”

Some evidence exists that they were used in Ancient Rome:

“The 4th century Historia Augusta reports emperor Elagabalus to have used a wheelbarrow (Latin: pabillus from pabo, one-wheeled vehicle]) to transport women in his frivolous games at court.”

Their role in transporting women is clearly a chapter still to be written.

The wheelbarrow did not appear in Europe however until the late 12th/early 13th centuries, and these models had the familiar front-mounted wheel. There is no account of the wheelbarrow’s whereabouts during the intervening centuries.

While there seems to be no Wheelbarrow Museum, there is one for Lawnmowers, from which you can purchase a Wheelbarrow Mug. And while you’re waiting for that to arrive, you can watch many videos of Extreme Wheelbarrowing and Wheelbarrow Tricks on Youtube.

Well, that was enough excitement to keep us going till we arrived in the land of Evolving Bungalows they call Camber.

Here, collapsing wrecks, vacant lots and humble 60s style structures, erected at a time when Camber was on the edge of the known world therefore exempt from architectural values, are being designerised into cool new seaside hideaways.

Which led us across the road, up the back of the dunes (where Elms predominate, I noticed for the first time) and across Rye Golf Course where we naturally fell to speculating on the exact location of the Camber Sands Station on the old tramway route. While the Camber Golf Links Station remains in good condition, with rails too, the terminus seems to have vanished entirely.

Martin King has sought out some old maps and a  Google Earth image showing the station’s original site.

Last thing: 4 Common Seals hauled up on the side of the Rother just past the industrial zone.


Not A Bird Race

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 7, 2017 by cliffdean


The Slow But Sure team has by now done the tried’n’tested Coastal Walk so many times now that they are sick of it. A new itinerary offered fresh thrills until it was noticed that more than half lay in the wrong county; a truncated version was geographically correct but lacked any woodland…but what the hell. East of the Rother it had to be, notwithstanding an absence of Nuthatches. Treecreepers. Marsh Tits. Never mind.

Setting off from the urban birdscape of Rye, we quickly found a Grey Wagtail on mud by the fishing boats and soon after that some Corn Buntings flew off the saltings – tantalising since the no longer frequent former habitats west of the river. Rock Pipits, Redshanks, Shelducks…I’m not going to list every species – far too boring apart from a pair of Egyptian Geese flying across – harsh calls like a reversing tone.

Northpoint Pit though, is very poor these days. Once upon a time it had a range of diving ducks, grebes, even Smew but now not even Coot. In winter, it’s not that disturbed either. There were at least a couple of Kingfishers.

The golden light of the photo above quite quickly gave way to the gloom and cold onshore breeze of subsequent ones. Quite a few extra birds were pilfered from the reserve across the river, including Brent Geese, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Egret & Pintail.


Cracking shot by Tim Waters

The cold open beach turned up one Sanderling so confiding it was almost trampled by one “team” member. Apart from that…an unwelcome reminder that those of us who thought they knew the names of all the seashells had forgotten most of them. We could of took the path behind the Sea Buckthorn & kept out of the miserable wind.


Cracking shot by James Tomlinson


Arriving at Camber (Great Tit!  Greenfinch! Chaffinch!) with more than an hour to go before “lunch”, and feeling that Scotney might be A Pit Too Far, we cut back across to the road where we admired a dramatic example of Holiday Bollard Carnage (photos would be too shocking) then crossed for a Via Dolorosa tick in the form of the celebrated Red-necked Grebe. This is now a very infrequent bird for this area, and one meriting re-acquaintance to avoid embarrassing misidentifications of Great Crested.

The last I had seen were fabulous breeding pairs on a very hot Corpus Christi at Bialystok fish-ponds, among Poles in summer wear, songs of Great Reed Warbler, Little Crake & Common Rosefinch and the choir in the church across the road.


Cracking Shot by Dave Rowlands

On the sandy meadows: Song & Mistle Thrushes; from the last willow, a Green Woodpecker. Out across the arable land were hundreds of wailing Lapwings & Golden Plovers. Reed Buntings erupted from the ditches and Skylarks from one rough field on the way to the Little Bustard Shrine. Distant Buzzard & Great White Egret, very fleeting Merlin and finally, as drizzle set in, a Peregrine. No Tree Sparrows.

So it wasn’t a race, just another walk. But for 8 miles. 70 species were not bad, especially without woodland. Though if you correct this total by factoring in Walking Righteousness, it comes out at 100+. But it wasn’t a Bird Race.


E Guldeford & beyond

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 16, 2016 by cliffdean

20160216_090304_001The north side of Rye was full of birds – the wrong sort as far as bird-watchers are concerned, since no group of tripod-bearers was gathered on the pavement to admire the many noisy House Sparrows, Starlings, Jackdaws, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons & Chaffinches like there was at Pett Pools for a single ibis.

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Most pictures by Tim Waters

And when fog drifted in, though the houses behind us were half-lost, their chattering, whistling, cooing bird chorus extended out across the serpentine ghost-creeks of long-lost Appledore Water.

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For a while only the tops of the turbine blades could be seen swishing above the fog-bank.

For a while, only Skylarks & distant traffic, until we doubled back to the Moneypenny willows where once more there was a tangle of birdsong: Robin, Great Tit, Dunnock, Song Thrush & House Sparrow.


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Tucked away in the pits were Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Heron & a reticent Chiffchaff, against the backing drone of a grain drier. (And while on the subject of Clapped-out Vehicles, here’s a beautiful one stumbled across by Mike M in France:)



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Further out onto the marsh along the Wainway Wall, a breeze had cleared fog then dropped away completely. The turbines stood unproductive, the sounds in the stillness were of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings. Golden Plovers and heavy machine guns.

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This photo is reduced too much to see, but the pasture past the sheep is full of Lapwings, Starlings & Golden Plovers – all in thousands but the plovers maybe 3000. Who knows – maybe more? When confronted with clouds of birds, I give in. The 62 Mute Swans were more my skill-level.

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A Buzzard hunched on a power lines, a Merlin pounced on some unfortunate victim and a Kingfisher dashed past us.

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We walked/hobbled/limped eight miles & saw/heard / smelt/ intuited 58 species.

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Levels & Dunes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 30, 2015 by cliffdean


Sunday: Over the humps and hollows of old sand-banks blown across the erstwhile Appledore Water, leaving behind for a while the urban birdsounds of Rye – House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Herring Gulls – but never escaping the howl of accelerating motor-bikes (already racing through the 30mph zone at twice that speed).




Perfumes of clover and beans.


Reedy ditches chugging with Reed Warblers or clogged with nightmare Crassula. Skylarks singing; Curlews edged from the river by the rising tide; a Kingfisher – a stubby dot – hurtling across pasture; Lapwings rising in advance of a patrolling Land Rover; young Starlings announcing the stealthy approach of a subtle Sparrowhawk.




Few birds though, across the broad horizons, apart from Rooks. The airborne larks are invisible for the most part; the Yellow Wagtails absent but for a few in a bean field; just a few male Reed Buntings on the look-out. But further over toward the wind-farm some raptors can be seen, though it takes some Naming of Landmarks to direct everyone towards them. There’s a Kestrel hovering, a bulky Peregrine sitting on a gate-post and 3 Buzzards circling by the turbines.

A Brown Hare lopes through the long grass of a long-dry creek, only the black tips of its long ears projecting from its brief refuge in a rill.

Motor-bikes take the curves of the Camber Road at speed.


More and more, along the back lanes and peeping through the bushes, one sees That Grey which means Designers Are Here. Say Goodbye to humble bungalows and Hello To Style. A gap in the traffic permits us to cross into the ridged world of sand, Sea Buckthorn, toppled block-houses and golf.


There are Common Whitethroats singing here, a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and, unexpectedly (because the vegetation doesn’t look tall enough) a Blackcap. A really surprising number of Meadow Pipits in display flight, for unlike some golf courses, manicured and sterile, this one retains many areas of rough, speckled with intense pink Pyramidal Orchids. The best bird of all, though, is a boldly coloured, boldly clicking and flicking male Stonechat, obviously on territory though there’s no sign of mate or offspring. It’s a scarce breeding bird at this end of the county and, although they have bred before along the lower Rother, a pleasure to find.


On the return from Rye, traffic is backed up from a police road-block at Winchelsea and diverted across Pett Level. A motorcyclist has been killed on the A259 at Icklesham.