Smuggling and owling (wool smuggling) were once popular activities for locals and visitors to the southern English town of Rye. Today, tourists are more likely to come for some of the tastiest fish and chips you’ll ever eat or perhaps a milk shake made with various different strengths from creamy white chocolate with 28% cocoa content to an eye-wateringly strong 99% cocoa content drink at Knoops cafe.
Once home to writers EF Benson and Henry James, the town sits several miles from the coastline, where a thousand years ago it was a major sea port. As the land was reclaimed by farmers and the rivers silted up, the town settled down as an agricultural backwater living of the wool trade off nearby the Romney Marshes. Today, watersports fans, tourists and yachties (there is still a small harbour open for business) fill its streets, squeezed into a camera-friendly cobbled-street maze within once fortified walls.
The town has two farmshops; Salts (saltsfarmshop.co.uk), which lies a couple of miles eastwards towards the sandy beaches of Camber Sands and Dengates, likewise outside the town, but a couple of miles north.
Rye is one of those towns that rewards those who visit and wander along its streets.
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