Quiet, rolling hills, Bodiam Castle (NT), with a gentler finish.
Standard walk: 18.5km (11.5 miles), 5 hours 45 minutes. For the whole outing including trains, sights and meals allow 11 hours
Short walk: 14km (8.7 miles), 4 hours 15 minutes.
Alternative linear walk finishing in Battle: 17.2km (10.7 miles), 5 hours 30 minutes.
OS LandRanger Map No. 199. OS Explorer Map No. 136. Robertsbridge, map reference TQ 733235 is East Sussex 22km south east of Tunbridge Wells.
4 out of 10 (2 out of 10 on Short Walk)
This High Weald walk passes through classic Weald countryside of rolling hills, woods, hop fields and orchards. A highlight of this walk is arriving at Bodiam Castle for tea, a perfect picture of a castle, nestling in the Rother Valley, with the hooting of the steam trains of the Rother Valley Railway nearby. From there the route continues on a gently undulating course to Salehurst, before a leisurely finish back into Robertsbridge.
You may catch the 254 bus (Mon - Sat hourly service until 17.20), from outside the road entrance to Bodiam castle. (west side - Castle Inn pub side of the road) to Wadhurst and Tunbridge Wells railway stations. Traveline 0870 6082608.
All the following are included in the pdf (above)
(a) Shorter walk: You may reduce the length of the main walk by over 4km (2.5 miles) to 14km (8.7 miles) by following the Short walk directions and then pick up the Standard walk directions from .
(b) Robertsbridge to Battle: 17.2 km (10.7 miles). A linear southerly walk to historic Battle.
(c) Robertsbridge Circular via Hurst Green walk: Alternative morning route via Hurst Green for the main walk.
(d) Alternative ending along the river Rother: If you would prefer to end the walk with a flat easy walk back into Robertsbridge from Bodiam castle, then follow the Alternative walk directions back to Robertsbridge from . This applies to the main walk plus (a) and (c) options and reduces the length of each walk by 0.5km. Please note between mid May and mid September the 700 metre footpath along the embankment of the river Rother may become overgrown. It is thus advisable not to take this alternative walk ending from Bodiam castle in summertime.
Bodiam Castle (tel 01580 830436, www.nationaltrust.org.uk) Built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrygge as a defence against attacks from France. England was at the time seriously under threat from a possible invasion and had suffered a number of raids, Rye and Winchelsea having both been sacked and burned in 1377. Bodiam being on the river Rother and 14 miles upstream from Winchelsea was consequently vulnerable to such raiding parties. However by the end of the 14th century this threat had very much reduced and the castle took on more the role of a comfortable home for the Dalyngrygge family. The only action that the castle saw was during the Civil War (1642-51) when the interior was more or less gutted after which the castle was left to deteriorate. A local Squire, John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, rescued the Castle in 1828, paying £3000 to save it from destruction. Although it was not until it was purchased in 1916 by Lord Curzon, who embarked on an extensive restoration and research programme that the fortunes of the castle truly improved. Lord Curzon bequeathed the castle to the National Trust. The castle is open 10am - 6pm, daily from March until October. 10am - 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays from November to February.
St Mary's Church, Salehurst was built largely during the 13th century, and has portions of early and later styles of English architecture. It is noted for its north and south aisles of seven bays each, dated from the 13th century.
Main walk: Take the train nearest to 9.50am (before or after) from Charing Cross station to Robertsbridge. Journey time is just over an hour. Trains back from Robertsbridge run once an hour.
Battle ending: Take the train nearest to 9.30am, (unless choosing to stop at Staple Cross in which case take the train nearest to 10.30 am).
Robertsbridge station car park currently costs £2.00 weekdays and is free at weekends.
The suggested lunchtime place is Waterside Café, Hawkhurst Fish Farm, TN18 4RT (tel 01580 754000), Open daily 9am - 4pm, 8.5km from the start of the walk. The White Horse Inn in Silver Hill, 5km from the start, is closed.
Alternative route via Hurst Green
Eurasia at The Royal George, 5.5km from the start, serves lunch (Th - Sun 12 to 2pm; Mon - Wed - no lunchtime service).
a) Short walk
The Castle Inn (tel 01580 830330), Bodiam 8km from the start of the walk, which serves moderately inventive food (11 to 3pm daily) and has a west facing garden. Alternatively lunch may be taken at the National Trust tea-room, Bodiam Castle 12 to 2pm. (Out of season: November to February usually open only on Saturday & Sundays, check www.nationaltrust.org.uk for up to date information.)
b) Battle ending
The Cross Inn (tel 01580 830217), Staplecross, 6km from the start of the walk. The Queens Head Seddlescombe, TN33 0QA (01424 870228), 11.2km from the start of the walk.
Virtually anywhere along the route would be a good picnic spot.
The suggested tea stop is at the National Trust tea-room (tel 01580 830436), Bodiam Castle open from 10am to 5pm, March - October. Out of season restricted opening, usually just Saturday & Sunday and closing at 4pm, check www.nationaltrust.org.uk for up to date information.
The alternate suggested tea stop is The Ostrich pub (tel 01580 881737), Robertsbridge which serves tea and coffee.