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Portsmouth to area around Rye, Battle

We're planning a trip for September. After spending a few days in Portsmouth, we'd like to visit the area around Battle, Rye, and Winchelsea, preferably staying in Rye. We're having difficulty finding efficient public transit for this leg of our trip. Coach and rail both seem to require multiple changes. Is there some local transit that we've missed? Thank you in advance for your help.

Two changes on the train - Portsmouth to Brighton, Brighton to Eastbourne then Eastbourne to Rye.

Not sure about buses.

You’re not missing anything - trains favour popular routes and a kind of hub/spoke system - so it’s easy to get from various points on the south coast up to London. But getting along the coast by train is trickier. Rye is only a small place anyway rather than a major rail destination so it doesn’t have a massive number of rail routes heading into town.

Posted by
6113 posts

The previous post has covered the rail options. Driving would take half the time of the train. It’s the same for Rye to Battle.

Posted by
5189 posts

We've been to Battle via a combination of driving and rail. We drove from Portsmouth and parked at Eastbourne before taking the train to Battle. We opted for this choice due to the expected trouble finding parking space due to the 1000 year celebration of the Battle of Hastings (we were right to be concerned). We opted for Eastbourne because there was ample parking space around the station. Either way, it's a reasonably easy drive completely all the way or via train with a couple of changes, nothing too challenging.

The drive is not particularly scenic, comprising mostly of the A27 which is for the most part a dual carriageway passing throung a number of villages, none of which are particularly attractive from the roadside and plenty of roundabouts that serve to disrupt the flow of the journey. Part of the rail journey from Eastbourne includes a nice part across the coast, literally running right alongside the sea.

It is possible to make the journey by bus but I've no experience of it and it appears such a convoluted affair that it would givve me a headache simply trying to research the route. If you have no intention to drive then my recommendation would be to travel primarily by train. I have no experience of using the buses in Battle or Rye. Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings is easily reached on foot from Battle train station, roughly ten minutes. I naven't visited Rye or Winchelsea so can offer no advice in that respect.

Posted by
619 posts

Winchelsea is an interesting place, and well worth visiting. The original town was an important sea port and right on the coast. In the 13th century the old town was completely destroyed in a storm, and replaced by a new town on top of the cliff. This was a "planted" town so built on a grid system, like most U.S. towns. That style is uncommon in Britain, and usually indicates a town dating from the Norman times. Ludlow is another example.

The new town was never really successful, and did not develop as its neigbours Rye and Hasdtings did. The church was never finished, and the buildings are an odd mixture. However, it is very distinctive and has a long and well recorded history, while avoiding some of the inauthentic quaintness of other English towns which rank higher on the tourist list. What you see at Winchelsea is genuine and old.

Some of my family lived there for many years.

Posted by
4477 posts

inauthentic quaintness

This term requires an explanation and examples!

Posted by
619 posts

"inauthentic quaintness"

There is a pub near where I live. It looks like it was converted from two or more old cottages, with a varied roofline and different wall finishes on the different parts. The roof has slumped because of the weight of the tiles, or because the beams have warped. It's a good pub, more of a family restaurant than a pub nowadays, and has different sections inside divided up by walls where the lath and plaster has been removed. It has open fires and a nice feel, and is very popular.

I saw it built about 30 years ago. There is an identical pub in Gloucester, with an identical slump in the roof, and I think I have seen the design and layout in other places as well.

It's a successful pub, and probably like what people think a pub should be. Personally, I don't think pubs were anything like that 150 yaers ago. They would have been smaller, possibly with one or two entirely separate rooms. The food and the drink avaiulable would have been different and quite limited. They were often places for men to hide from their families.

But people, especially tourists, like pubs which look like that. The English countryside, including the Cotswolds, is full of them. We are going to one today. But it's marketing rather than natural evolution that has made them the way they are. Everything is carefully planned and thought through. You will enjoy them, but don't imagine you are sampling a great tradition.

The same is true of the architecture and streetscape in many towns and villages.

Posted by
5189 posts

For inauthentic quaintness you can't beat 'historic' Smithville, NJ

Actually it's not very quaint, it's cloyingly fake but many people enjoyed it. I actually preferred the run down, over priced, out dated and surrounded by some very dodgy characters Steel Pier in nearby Atlantic City. At least you could argue that it was authentic.

Posted by
539 posts

Thank you to all who responded. We appreciate the information.