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Wild Rye: Discover our Wetland Wildlife

Bittern in Winter

School Visits

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a mosaic of habitats beside the sea with shingle, saltmarsh, rivers, pits, grazing marsh and reedbeds, and full of wildlife for you to discover. The nature reserve has a Community Wildlife Officer to lead your group, plus equipment such as binoculars and shrimp nets to enhance your group's learning experience.

There are two main areas of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve:

  • The Beach Reserve – dominated by newly formed shingle ridges, which are home to many specialised plants, birds and insects including the Little Tern. There are 4 bird watching hides and our small visitor centre, Lime Kiln Cottage.
  • Camber Castle – built for Henry VIII, sits on 500 year old shingle ridges that are covered by a flower-rich grassland. Between the beach and the Castle are a series of gravel pits formed by shingle extraction which provide important areas for birds and other animals including Water Vole and Medicinal Leech. Near the castle is a bird watching hide and areas suitable for pond-dipping.

You are encouraged to book a pre-visit to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve with a member of staff. We can also help with running educational visits, depending on demand.

Information for teachers

An information sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.

Programmes of study

While the Nature Reserve most obviously lends itself to the Science, Geography or History curriculum, it can equally well serve as a stimulus for writing, Art, Maths or Music. Possible themes could be Habitats, Adaptation, Settlements, the Changing Coastline, Birds, Camber Castle, Pond Life.

Feel free to contact Nature Reserve Staff to discuss your requirements.

Visits are appropriate for Key stages 1-4 and A-level. There is a Children's Pack available for Key Stage 2.

The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Key Stage 1 and 2 programme is available by clicking here.

There is a range of Rye Harbour Worksheets available to view and download from here.

Booking Information

Self-guided group visits are free, but we would still like you to book with us, so that we can expect a group.

  • £3.00 per pupil per full day
  • £2.00 per pupil per half day
  • Accompanying Adults Free
  • Minimum Charges: £40 per half day, £80 per full day
  • Visits should be provisionally booked directly with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve by e-mail: rhnroffice@sussexwt.org.uk or telephone 01797 227784, ask for Lucy Bowyer.

    Please complete the Rye Harbour Educational Visit Booking Form.

    Bookings will only be confirmed after receipt of the completed Booking Form. If the Booking Form is not returned within four weeks, the provisional booking will be cancelled. Groups will be invoiced after their visit.

    Wet weather facilities

    There are very limited wet weather facilities at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

    It poor weather groups can shelter in the large birdwatching hides, or the World War II blockhouses.

    We can arrange for coach access to the shore and castle.


    There are no toilet facilities on the Nature Reserve itself (except in emergencies), however public toilets can be found in Rye Harbour village, near to the car park and at Dog's Hill Road, Winchelsea Beach.


    Visitors should bring food and drink appropriate to the length of the visit and the season.

    There are no consumables for sale at the Nature Reserve, but there is a village shop and a café.


    We can provide worksheets, clipboards, flip chart, pond nets and a limited number of binoculars.

    Please make sure that each pupil brings a pencil.


    It is important that all visitors bring suitable clothing with them.

    Windproof and waterproof coats and also sturdy shoes are appropriate all year round.

    In summer, hats and sunscreen are also necessary.

    In winter, warm clothes will make a visit to the exposed beach much more comfortable.

    Health and Safety

    Children must remain under teachers’ control at all times and teachers remain responsible for the children during a visit.

    Teachers are also responsible for all First Aid arrangements and must carry the necessary First Aid Kits and a mobile telephone.

    We require a ratio of one adult to ten or fewer children (not including any Nature Reserve helpers).

    Visiting schools must have public liability insurance to cover their own potential liabilities.

    A Risk Assessment is available before your visit.

    Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has insurance, covering its potential liabilities.

    How to get here

    Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is situated two miles south of Rye, East Sussex.

    The main entrance to the Nature Reserve is in the village of Rye Harbour near the public car park and Martello Tower.

    High vehicles such as coaches can not enter the car park but can park adjacent to it.

    View a map of the area

    Please contact us for more details.

    The Nature Reserve can also be accessed from Brede Lock near Rye (for Camber Castle) or the village of Winchelsea Beach

    Further information

    Much more information and resources can be found on our mulimedia page.

    Please encourage staff, helpers and pupils to explore it before their visit.

    Contact details

    Lucy Bowyer
    Community Wildlife Officer
    Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
    Lime Kiln Cottage
    Rye Harbour
    East Sussex
    TN31 7TU

    (01797) 227784

    e-mail: rhnroffice@sussexwt.org.uk