Home » How to walk from Hastings to Rye – England

How to walk from Hastings to Rye – England

by zoe tehrani

This 13 mile walk from Hastings to Rye is located in the historic county of Sussex (East Sussex to be specific). The two towns are linked by a walking route called the Saxon Shore Way. The first part from Hastings will be a mostly coastal walk along the England Coast Path, then about 7 miles in you will turn inland to get to Rye. 

Now, I’ve called this a walk, but really it’s more like a hike. Very, very hilly. Well, the first section is anyway. So be prepared to sweat and burn those legs. 

I did this walk as part of my mission to walk all of the England Coast Path. Technically I missed a bit when I turned inland at Pett Level, but it just made for a nicer walk this way, walking through Winchelsea. So I’m not disappointed in myself one bit….I might have to go back and walk that small section of the coast I missed though, lol.

Logistics for this walk, including an interactive map, and links to some other coastal walks will be at the end.

-Logistics for this walk, including an interactive map,  and links to some other coastal walks will be at the end-

The walk from Hastings to Rye

Hastings

Upon arriving in Hastings you will want to head towards East hill (it’s the big green area on google maps). For easiest navigation just head down to the seafront and turn left. After a short walk take the first left after the castle and you will start to walk through the more charming Hastings old town. You can see the hill up ahead from here so just head towards it. I do however recommend taking a bit of a stroll around the old town. 

In the streets of Hastings old town, a photo of a white walled house with a blue sky back drop.

Interestingly, after going there I later discovered Hastings old town has been voted Britains best walking neighbourhood.  

The quaint streets are crisscrossed by narrow passages known as twittens. You will find cute independent cafes, boutique shops, a thriving art scene, medieval houses, some dating back to 1450. I could talk a lot more about this but I will save it for another blog post. 

East Hill

Now, to continue on with the hike, take the steps up to East hill. There is a lift but you won’t be taking the lift because you are hiking and that’s cheating. Once you get to the lift station you will get your first magnificent views looking over Hastings. 

A view overlooking the buildings of Hastings, with a blue sky backdrop.

Now, take the steps to the right and you will soon reach a large open green space. From here you can enjoy more views over Hastings. 

A view overlooking the buildings of Hastings as it meets the ocean.
The rooftops of Hastings.

Walk across the green, keeping right and at the other end you will reach a gate which says ‘no entry, danger’ etc. So, from here, if you take the path going right that will be the danger area where the cliffs are unstable. If you continue on straight you will eventually find yourself walking through woodland.

The woods

From this point on I cannot direct you. I got mega lost. There were many trails leading in different directions so I just picked whichever ones called out to me. Through forest, almost fairytale like surroundings, having to duck down sometimes to fit under the branches of the trees. The lighting getting darker as I went deeper under tree cover. 

A small path surrounded by trees and foliage on the Hastings to Rye walk.
A path under all the trees blocking the sunlight on the Hastings to Rye walk.
Warning sign of the dangers of cliff falls if going to the beach.
I didn’t go this way.

When I realised I had no idea in which direction I was now walking I got my phone out for navigation. Oops, I accidentally shut down my map and now had no signal so it wouldn’t load again. 

Don’t judge me for using my phone and not a real map. I have no desire to carry a large map with me on my hikes because it’s just faff. It’s also unnecessary for a coastal hike because its impossible (or so I though) to get lost when following a coastline. 

What to do?

That’s when I could hear a cow mooing in the distance. I knew if I headed towards the moo I would get to open field where I could then use the sun and wind for navigation…or my phone signal would return. 

A dirt path under darkness with steps surrounded by trees.

Back on the coastal path

Following the moo I found the main path again and returned to the mission ahead. Now, for some sections of the next part of the walk, you can’t actually see the ocean because the bushes are in the way. However, every so often there is an opening to the right or if you look back where you get stunning coastline views. 

Looking back at the green landscape with bushes and trees and a glimpse of the ocean on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.
The coastal path surrounded by greenery with the ocean backdrop on the walk from Hastings to Rye.
A view looking back of the green and orange landscape where it meets the ocean on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.
Looking back at the green landscape with the trail visible in the distance on the Hastings to Rye walk.
The trail with a wooden fence running alongside it with the ocean backdrop on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.
The trails in a green field with orange tones on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.

Continuing along you will walk up and down big hills quite a few more times before reaching the village of Fairlight Cove. The is no more uphill for a while as you now begin to slowly descend. Keep an eye out for the stumps with the Saxons Shore Way/National trail signs as you will be walking a bit on road before turning onto a dirt track again. 

A suburban scene of a residential road with houses.
The village
A view looking back at a village on a hill next to the ocean on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.

Pett Level

Next, you will get a glimpse of Pett Level beach as you slowly descend to it. The trail doesn’t go to the beach itself but rather along a canal running alongside the beach, before turning inland.

A view looking down at Pett Level beach with wind turbines in the distance on the Hastings to Rye coastal walk.
The beach

Once turning inland, you are no longer directed by the direction of the coastline, but there are wooden stumps at regular intervals marking the Saxons Shore Way trail. You will be guided along a path surrounded by fields with cows and sheep keeping the canal to your left. 

A canal with people playing on the side on the Hastings to Rye walk.
A canal surrounded by green foliage and houses on the left side.
A green grass trail with a blue sky backdrop on the Hastings to Rye walk.
A green field full of cows with a blue sky on the Hastings to Rye walk.

At the end, you cross the canal then head in the direction of your 2 o’clock to reach a very steep but very short uphill. 

A view overlooking green fields with orange bushes and a blue sky backdrop on the Hastings to Rye walk.
The view from the top of the hill.

The lambs

OH MY GOD.

As I walk through a field I notice a cute lamb…..Then I realise there are lambs EVERYWHERE. So many lambs that some are even sleeping all over the trail. I had to be super careful not to disturb these sleeping babies as I made my way through. 

nb. I’ve been extra creative with the sheep edits. The grass was actually green and the sky was blue.

A mummy sheep standing next to her lamb.
A field of sheep.
A lamb.

It gets better…

I came across a sheep that had literally just given birth to two lambs. You can see they still have the birth gunk all over them.

Two just born lambs in a field with their mother.
Lambing season signage.

Winchelsea – the 11mile mark

Winchelsea is a small picturesque town just 2miles short of Rye, your destination. I’m going to be honest with you, as I was walking past the train station, I checked the train times and saw a train heading towards London would be coming through in a few minutes….. 

I just couldn’t resist getting that train. So I got it lol. 

In all fairness, it was coming up to 6 pm, and once getting to Rye there wouldn’t be much time to explore there. Also, remember I had recently had hip surgery and I’m not supposed to walk this much yet. 

Plus it was a cute train station. By cute, I mean it was just a train track that you have to walk on to get to the platform.

Train track with a small platform in Winchelsea.
This is the station. The whole station lol.

Anyway, I need that sense of completion, so I did return at a later date to Winchelsea so I could complete those last two miles lol. 

Back to finish the walk from Hastings to Rye….3 months later

So, continuing on. Actually, let’s take a step back. I need to explain which way you walk when you get to Winchelsea. Once you reach the main road out of the field, turn right and follow the road as it curves round left. Follow this road to the end. You will pass this pub before the end.

A pub in Winchelsea, with two cyclists peering in the window.
The New Inn in Winchelsea

At the end, turn left and continue on, over the train track till you reach the end of the road. There will be a sign directing you right to Rye.

Close up flowers and bush with a yellow and green field in the background and a blue sky spotted with fluffy white clouds.
Views like this just past the train tracks
A path on the left with a strip of green grass next to it then and orange coloured filed with crops. The sky is blue.
This is the road you walk on once you have turned right at the Rye signpost.

After a short walk, the road will bear left at a cute house. Don’t follow it. Instead, go straight ahead onto the trail below. Then just follow this till you reach the main road and you will reach Rye.

A cute house surrounded by fields and a dirt track marking the route for the Hastings to Rye walk.
You will be facing the other direction. This is just me looking back.
Zoe Tehrani looking out over the corn fields, on a sunny day on the walk from Hastings two Rye.
This is me also looking back. Just incase you weren’t sure what my back looks like.
A path surrounded by green grass, bushes and trees under a hill. Some rooftops are visible through the bushes on top of thew hill.
The last little section before you reach the road.

At the main road, turn right to walk to the town centre. You could follow the signs into town, however, I’m going to recommend one last little turn to you. When you walk over the bridge turn right onto the path that follows the river. This is a super pretty little section. 

Lots of greenery with a glimpse of a river.
The path on the left with greenery to the right and a glimpse of the river. On a sunny day with blue sky.
This is what you see if you take that right turn.

Rye

Welcome to Rye, with its cobblestone lanes and medieval half timbered houses. 

A cobblestone street in Rye with a blue sky backdrop.
A cobblestone street in Rye.

It is quite possibly the quaintest town I have been to in England…or maybe even ever. Secret passageways, tales of smugglers, home to poets and artists. There is so much to say about Rye that it deserves its own blog post. Maybe that’s one for the other website.

Logistics for the Hastings to Rye walk (hike)

  • Start: Hastings
  • Finish: Rye
  • How to get there: Hastings has direct trains and indirect trains from London. Rye only has indirect. Now listen closely. For the cheapest travel you should buy a return ticket to Hastings, but you must buy the train that requires one change. Not the direct ticket. Let me explain. The direct train doesn’t go past Rye. The indirect train involves a change at Ashford International, and the next train you go on, takes you through Rye before getting to Hastings. Then to return, take the fast (indirect) train from Rye to London St Pancras. It’s about 1.5 hours out, then 1 hour (ish) back.
  • Distance: 13 miles. There is the option to shorten it to 11miles by finishing in Winchelsea (the train In Winchelsea will take you to Rye).
  • Elevation gain: 1,483 ft
  • Time to complete: 5 hours.
  • Terrain: Very hilly for the first half, with steps at the start and a dirt track the rest. For the second half, a mix of dirt tracks and asphalt on mostly flat ground (with some very small hills).
  • Difficulty: Medium-Hard

Map – Walking from Hastings to Rye

Click on the little box in the corner to follow the trail.

Top tip

  • Start this walk early. It’s a long slog for the whole walk, but Hastings and Rye are so charming you will also want time to spend at both places. I started at 1 pm which was way too late and left me little time for extras. 
  • Walk in the direction I did. The first half from Hastings is the tough part and it’s better to get that out of the way whilst you are fresh.

More coastal walks to try in South East England

If you want some more hills and a challenge, then I would recommend:

Or alternatively, if you would like something less hilly, you could try:

If you want something that incorporates both cliffs and woodland, you could try:

If you would like more information on walking trails in England you can check out the National trails website.

Pin it for later – A guide for the Hastings to Rye walk

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8 comments

Bunny July 27, 2019 - 5:28 pm

I love this Zoe, more realistic, practical and inviting that any walks or hikes around the coastal path guides /books I have read so far – Wheres next ?

Reply
zoe August 11, 2019 - 5:34 am

thanks mother 🙂

Reply
Abi August 2, 2020 - 8:26 pm

Hey,

This was the most HELPFUL guide for this walk. I completed the full stretch today with thanks to you – it was a beautiful hike!

Keep us posted on any more 🙂

Reply
zoe tehrani August 6, 2020 - 4:47 am

Amazing! I’m so glad I could help. I agree it’s beautiful. I have a few more posts coming soon!

Reply
Fred August 3, 2020 - 3:29 pm

Great post and thanks for all the images, it really gives a sense of the different types of terrain along the way. We’ve been umming and ahing about where to go for a long weekend and Hastings has just landed a spot for a night based on this.

Reply
zoe tehrani August 6, 2020 - 4:46 am

Oh gosh, no pressure then haha. I’m glad I was able to help. Hastings is lovely and I really enjoyed this hike. Hope you enjoy!!!

Reply
Akos September 12, 2021 - 2:15 pm

Hey! I just completed this hike, mostly based on your guide, which was – as always – very helpful. I did some parts differently, let me summarize my impressions in case others are interested.

From the train station I first climbed to the West Hill (Castle Hill Rd) and descended to the old town from there (instead of going directly to the shore from the station). The disadvantage of this is that it adds one extra hill to climb, but on the positive side, you get nice views of Hastings Castle and the Old Town from the other direction.

After the East Hill, I took the “danger” route. It is indeed unmaintained and uneven, but I would say that unless you have some physical condition, it’s not a tough one. It is also quite short. However, I would definitely advise against it in rainy/slippery weather.

At Pett Level Beach I did not turn inland, but continued on the shore until Winchelsea beach. This part was quite monotonous, but then turning inlands at Winchelsea beach I could pass by Camber Castle. It is closed currently, but it was nice from the outside too. There were also plenty of cows and sheep on this path.

Finally, as you also noted, I’d advise everyone to calculate some time to stroll around in Rye, it’s a lovely town.

Reply
zoe tehrani September 29, 2021 - 3:20 pm

ooooh yes, thanks for these suggestions Akos 🙂

Reply

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