The Rye Ancient Trails offers a fantastic route showcasing the best running terrain in the area. Don’t expect fast times and smooth surfaces. Do expect amazing views, a few stiff climbs, the odd rabbit hole, some single track and numerous gates (35 on the 30k) and stiles (29).
Please take care, stay focused and be especially careful on road crossings and country lanes. Take the time to thank the marshals and taste the local food on offer at the drink and feed stations. There’s a free beer (courtesy of Three Legs Brewing Company) waiting for you at the finish.
The races (both 30k and 15k) will start outside The George in Rye on the High Street, with a short climb to take runners past St Mary’s Church and the town hall in the heart of the ancient Citadel before leaving the town via the historic Landgate and heading for the surrounding villages.
Enjoy the flat road section alongside the Military Canal before climbing ‘The Mount’ – for spectacular views of Romney Marsh. The course then follows public footpaths to the Domesday village of Iden, its Norman church and The Bell Inn, your first water and feeding station (at approximately 5k). Each station will have water, coke, jaffa cakes and jelly babies. They will also feature locally sourced drink and food. The Bell Inn is providing homemade biltong for the Iden station.
You will then pass through orchards, vineyards and ancient woodland before a road section through Peasmarsh (second water and feeding station here at approximately 9k). The 15k and 30k courses split in Peasmarsh, with the 15k turning left and left again at Jempsons to cross fields to the top of School Lane. Take care and obey marshals as you cross the A268.
The 30k also turns left at Jempsons, but continues up Tanhouse Lane and then Mill Lane to join the High Weald Landscape Trail just past the Flackley Ash Hotel. The trail here is through coppiced woodland. It then turns on to the Sussex Border Path across farmland and through woods before a road section on Hobbs Lane into Beckley where there will be a third feeding station (approximately 12k). Footpaths will take you to the 12th century St Mary’s Church in Northiam (there will be a fourth feeding station here (approximately 15k), outside local landmark, Will’s Café and Bakery, which will feature their famous bread pudding.
You will then return on the same stretch of footpath (please give priority to returning runners at stiles and gates), turning up Church Lane to All Saints Church in Beckley which dates, in part, from Saxon times. From there, the route crosses fields (the fifth water and feeding station is at approximately 21k) and then passes through a long, beautiful stretch of ancient woodland (watch out for deer and wild boar!) before meeting up with the 15k route back at Jempsons, Peasmarsh where you’ll again pass the Jempsons water and feed station (5k to go).
From here, the trail goes up and down via School Lane, before the longest hill of both routes (look back for the view at the top) to the Church of St Peter and St Paul, which dates from 1070.
Then it’s downhill all the way, following the High Weald Landscape Trail past orchards and then across farmland, with long views of the sea and Rye’s citadel to guide you back into Rye (watch out for the kissing gate 400m from the finish!) where you will finish on the playing field behind the Rye Sports Centre.
You can view the routes here:
and check out some images from the route below, courtesy of Roo Fowler photography.