I have visited the village resort of Camber Sands many times while staying elsewhere in the Rye Bay area of East Sussex. The village itself is Camber and the beach Camber Sands. The latter is a several mile stretch of dunes. It has frequently been used as a film and television location, standing in for exotic locations or Normandy beaches. The time before my last visit George Clooney was filming there.
The most popular part of the beach nearest the village can get extremely busy on hot summer days. Children and adults losing their bearings in the crowds happens quite often so you do need to take a bit of care. In the summer there are lifeguards to help with this. If prepared to walk a bit though your group can always find a quieter spot and some breathing space.
Children love Camber because of all the sand to play in whether the tide is in or out and it is great for kite flying. I recommend the beach for star gazing too or ship spotting with binoculars. A little caution is needed if swimming in the sea or just paddling with inflatables. The tide going out is very strong and wind can suddenly pull inflatables out. Orange flags flown mean it is too dangerous for inflatables, red means no going in sea at all. These situations are not the norm though.
The windyness mentioned makes picnics occasionally challenging because of sand blowing about but for me that's just part of being on a sandy beach. You can pick up cold drinks, buckets and spades, sun lotion and the like in the villages little shops but if you are self catering you would need to visit nearby Rye for a supermarket and market. The main accommodation is a noisy Pontins caravan and chalet park but in Rye you can find small inns, b and bs etc.
Rye Harbour and Dungeness nature reserves are close by as is Camber Castle (nearer Rye, certain weekends only open, foot access only) You are not far from Hastings's many attractions and larger shops. I think Camber Sands makes an enjoyable visit and recommend it.
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Most years it is me who chooses our holiday destination and quite often I end up taking us to the other side of the coast down in the South West of England, though this year I decided to allow my husband to choose our destination and for once we found ourselves travelling to the South East coast.
Also for the first time we actually set out at 6 in the morning and found ourselves in Camber Sands at 10.00am with plenty of time before our check in was due and so was able to build a first impression of the immediate area straight away and unfortunately my first impression was not brilliant.
GETTING TO CAMBER
Camber Sands is situated near Rye in East Sussex.
To get there via car make your way towards Hastings then head out along the coast road and take the A259 to Rye. Once in Rye you will see signposts to Camber which are all pretty straightforward. If you are coming from London then take junction 10 from the M20 and follow signs for the A2070 to Lydd or Brenzett. Once at the roundabout in Brenzett continue going for a couple of miles and take a left turning into Camber. You know you are heading the right way if you appear to be in the middle of nowhere!
For Sat Nav's follow the postcode of TN31 7RL
With public transport you will need to get a train to Rye station and catch the 711 bus at the bus stop opposite. This will head towards Lydd/Folkstone via Camber which is approximately three miles.
As we drove towards the coast into Camber my first impressions were that we were literally in the middle of nowhere! Apart from a lot of fields and some big windmills I could not see a thing more. As we reached nearer to the centre of Camber large sand dunes rose up in front of us blocking the sea in the most part.
WHERE TO STAY
We were staying in the Pontins which was directly on the coast road. As far as I could see there was only the Pontins and a smaller bring-your-own camp site next door to it. As this site only allows one review on a Pontins which I have already done previously I feel I must mention this Pontins in this review as it made such an impact on our holiday and the area - and unfortunately it was not a great impact!
I wont go into too much detail of the Pontins as this review is not solely about it though a few things I feel need mentioning as to come to Camber for a holiday you do not have many choices as to where to stay and I feel that you should know in advance the places available and where to avoid!
I have always found Pontins pretty good and usually they offer quite good entertainment to children and adults alike though if you are planning on staying here then do not expect too much at all. The entertainment at night was repetitive, unorganized and to be blunt; boring. We barely stayed for the adult entertainment as after seeing an hour of it we had had enough, though every night for our daughter's sake we saw the children's entertainment and I found that it had a lot to be desired for. Children were ushered from one room to another never knowing where to go next and the music choices were repetitive with a terrible sound system. One thing which my daughter wanted to see was the animal characters such as Zena the Zebra though they never turned up for more than five minutes a night and only on stage with no chance for my daughter to go and meet them. As for entertainment around the site there wasn't really anything apart from a drab arcade. No children's outdoor activities like we are used to apart from a few small things which were always shut and the appearance on a whole was as though you were walking into a busy council estate with apartments built so close together it felt claustrophobic.
Inside the accommodation was the only real plus point with two up two down one floor apartments with large rooms which were very tidy and for the most very clean. The outsides unfortunately were not so tidy with panels rotting away and such.
I certainly would not recommend staying at the Pontins in the area though apart from the other camp site where you take your own caravan or tent (which also looked bare) then you are out of luck actually having a place to stay in Camber. Other nearby places to stay mainly consist of bring-your-own camp sites, the nearest one being about five miles from Camber in Lydd. This site is quite small though does seem to have more around it than right in Camber. The other side of Lydd you will find a small farm site which is also a possibility to stay though other than that you are looking further out in places such as Hastings.
Now, I have already mentioned that Camber seems really in the middle of nowhere which on the map it does show that there is not too much in the immediate area though it also gives the impression that there is more there than in reality. For example it shows 'Camber Castle' on the map which castles are something myself and my husband enjoy, though when we looked for it there was nothing there! Just an open space behind some houses which may have originally been home to a castle though no longer.
Camber Sands, or Camber as it is more accurately called, it literally surrounding one very long semi-circle road which leads around open fields down to the sea. We should have realised when we saw a very large windmill farm that this was a place of high winds though we didn't think much of it until the sun decided to go out on our second day and the wind started whipping through the whole place. There are a few houses in which local inhabitants live though most are run down farm houses which do not make the area look very attractive at all. A couple of the houses have been turned into small café's though we did not go in any of these as they did not look at all inviting. One house café was open from 7.00am and although we walked past it a few times towards the beach we felt that it looked tiny and unclean and so gave up on that idea.
The main 'attraction' of Camber is the sandy beach which runs approximately 7 miles on the coast of Camber. This beach is also surrounded by very high sand dunes which if you try to get over them you will find that you are exhausted before the day has even begun. The first day we were there we took the dunes to the beach as we had been directed this way and trying to get up one alone is hard work though with a two year old who had to be carried up as it was too steep and slippy, it became near impossible! Luckily coming back out of the beach we found a better entrance to the beach which was just left of the main entrance of the Pontins. I think this is the only part in which you can go to the beach without climbing the dunes and you also have a small car park here with a couple of tiny beach shops selling the usual things such as beach balls and dinghy's though to be honest I've seen better beach shops in the countryside!
The beach itself was beautiful, probably the only real thing in actual Camber which was! The sand was lovely and golden and very soft sand in the main part. If you walk a mile either way you will find more stones within the sand though in the centre part of the beach there are no stones to see at all apart from some little shells which are mainly by the sea. As Camber is such a small area, the beach does not get too crowded either which is great. Unfortunately we were not able to spend a lot of time on the beach as the weather became very poor over the week we stayed there though we did take a walk there a couple of times and our daughter (or was it my husband!?) had fun building sand castles.
The tide of the sea does go out quite far and it was a bit of a trek to get down to the waters edge at one point we were there. As we walked down there I did notice quite a lot of muddy, yucky sand left by the sea. This was possibly the only real negative about this beach.
There is a small café on the beach which offers a range of hot and cold food and drink though is very pricy. You are able to sit indoors or on the patio outside or of course take it back to where you were sitting on the beach. They are very welcoming and lovely in this café.
There are also a few watersports available on Camber Sands due to the high winds though we did not actually do any of this. To find out more about this you actually need to go to the surrounding areas;
Rye Watersports 01797 225238 or visit their site at www.ryewatersports.co.uk.
Action watersports in Lydd just a few miles from Camber. 01797 321885
The dunes as already mentioned are very high and steep and run along the whole length of the beach. At some points at lower parts you are able to walk along the top which is a lovely walk with some nice sights to see and many small animals and other habitat which live in the dunes.
Camber village is not really so much of a village than a few small shops and café's dotted around in various places, none of which are really signposted. As already mentioned there are a few lame beach shops in the beach car park and also a couple of pubs and café's. The local pub offers some lovely food though is very pricy. It does not look much on the outside though on the inside seems very inviting. There is a general store on the entrance to the Pontins which is open for the public as well as Pontins campers. This is a small shop though does have a range of food to offer though for the nearest supermarket you will have to take a trip into either Romney for a Sainsbury's which is about seven miles away or for a Tesco a little further into Ashford which is 20 miles away.
So in a nutshell, that is Camber! If you are one for the quiet and being in the middle of nowhere with not much around apart from the beach and some dune walking then perhaps this place is for you. If you want more from your holiday then I would advise you to go elsewhere as there is nothing at all really in Camber and the holiday camp offers even less! Of course, if you have a car then there are some lovely areas around in which to visit which we were quite happy to do, though be prepared to clock up a lot of miles in your car!!
AROUND THE AREA
Camber is set in the heart of 1066 Country named for the well known 'Battle of Hastings'. Once you get out of Camber itself you can find some lovely quaint little villages or if you prefer a little bit more life, you can take a trip to Hastings which is approximately 14 miles away though is quite a straightforward drive.
We spent a lovely day down in Hastings and it has a lot of things to do both on sunny days and rainy days. Here you can find a lovely sea life centre which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed and was a shelter from the rain at the time. Of course prices are quite steep for what it was though you are able to return there all day so we found ourselves wandering into the main town centre for lunch and then returning later in the day to hear some more talks on the animals. My daughter, of course, found the talks boring and would rather have jumped in to the water to play with the fish!
The main town itself is quite large with a mix of the usual town shops as well as many seaside type shops in which I love! You are also able to eat in various pubs, café's, takeaways and fast food places so you won't go hungry.
There is a lovely little boat museum which contains various boats outside which have been washed up and so forth in the past with great accounts of Hastings boating history. It may sound a little boring though it is only small and completely free.
Hastings also has some great remains of a castle with the low price of £3.20 for admission. With admission to this you can also get 1/3 off of the price at both Smugglers Adventure, which is an adventure in a set of caves high on the hill where you learn the history of smugglers in Hastings - somewhere I really wanted to go though unfortunately did not get to, and also underwater world.
There are also some lovely gardens and of course the beach in which you can spend some quality time so there is plenty to do here and probably the best and most livliest places around Camber.
A very unoriginal name for a village in this area though one to visit. We spent a day here visiting Yesterday's World (Which I have written a more comprehensive review on) which is full of great old attractions and a lovely play area for the children. There is also Battle Abbey opposite to Yesterday's World which includes some lovely walks on the battleground.
Battle itself is a beautiful little village and certainly worth a day trip!
Bodium Castle is also well worth a visit according to the locals and is situated about 10 miles away from Camber. Unfortunately we did not get here though apparently it is the best castle in the area.
If you like art then head to Rye Art Gallery just down the road from Camber or if you would prefer to play golf you have a large golf course in both Rye and Camber.
There are many other small places to see and visit around the area though you do need a car or you will be facing a lot of public transport. There is a bus stop right outside Pontins in Camber which will take you to most places around the area or there is a lovely train which takes you between a few little villages which is worth a look even if you do drive.
Of course there is also Kent attractions if you go out the other way to Camber though most attractions this way are even further to drive to.
So although there is nothing in Camber there are a number of decent things to do if you don't mind driving plenty and for the main part, the local area is very attractive to look at so many photo opportunities!
In the main our holiday was a good one though the constant driving to get to anything really was annoying at times. I guess this is what I get from letting my husband choose the holiday destination without researching it!
Camber is overly quiet with nothing do in the immediate area apart from play golf, walk along the dunes or go on the beach and only one of the three interested me and that was the beach. If you are planning on going to this area then I certainly recommend Camber beach with the beautiful golden sands being about the best in the area. Unfortunately the accommodation around is another matter and I would probably say if you want to visit Camber Sands then look further a field for a better site or other accommodation as the Pontins here does not live up to expectations in the slightest!
Do I recommend going here?
It is certainly not the worst place to go on holiday though if you want a lively place then perhaps Camber is not for you. Be prepared to drive a lot to go anywhere and look around for a better place to stay. If you are just looking for a beach and walking holiday with a little golf thrown in then perhaps this is somewhere you may enjoy though be prepared to be blown away by the wind!!