Robertsbridge Circular walk
Quiet, rolling hills, Bodiam Castle (NT), with a gentler finish.
A castle & a steam railway
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.
The main walk is 'square' shaped, with Bodiam Castle (and a pub) at the third corner.
You may catch the 254 bus (Mon - Sat hourly service until 17.20), from outside the road entrance to Bodiam castle (going west, 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 . This takes a direct route to the castle, missing out the first 2 'corners' of the main walk.
(b) Robertsbridge to Battle: 17.2 km (10.7 miles). This is an entirely seperate walk, a linear southerly walk to historic Battle.
(c) Robertsbridge Circular via Hurst Green walk: Alternative morning (the 'first corner') route via Hurst Green and the Royal George pub, 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 not advisable in summertime.
Bodiam Castle (National Trust, tel 01580 830436), 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. Links: Wikipedia
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.
Alternative route via Hurst Green
a) Short walk
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.
This walk was originally published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is dated.
After the walk, please leave a comment, it really helps. Thanks!
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk