Batemans to Bodiam Castle

  • Total Distance: 13.75 miles
  • Time:               5½ hours
  • Maps:              OS Explorer 136 & 124

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Bateman’s is Kipling, enticed by its warmth and seclusion, nestling below Burwash by the River Dudwell, he lived there until 1936. But Bateman’s is the start of the climb up to Brightling Needle and just one of Mad Jack Fuller’s Follies.

There is a Pyramid in the churchyard and a Tower on the path to Darwell Reservoir. The Observatory can just be seen but Mad Jack was not all just fun, for it was he that saved Bodiam Castle from demolition, thank you Jack.

At Robertsbridge, ‘Three Castles’ returns to a lowland valley walk where once ‘Hoppicker’s Specials’ ran from Robertsbridge Station towards Bodiam Castle and beyond. The trains may return once the line is restored but for the moment the final few miles must be walked.

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The Walk

From Bateman’s, past the Mill Pond and following the River Dudwell, is a quintessential English landscape of rivers, old meadows and pastures and trees on the rising hillsides that is echoed in Kipling’s ‘Pook of Pook’s Hill’.

The climb to Brightling Needle, at 614ft, is more gradual than first thought, looping around and up the hill following the remains of an old road. There are some stiles to negotiate and it is likely that some of the fields on the climb up to Brightling will contain cattle.

A short walk along Brightling Road, with views from the ridge as far as Sandhurst Windmill (Bodiam Castle to Sissinghurst Castle), leads to the descent from Brightling and Mad Jack’s follies along footpaths, green lanes and an undulating walk down through the Brightling Estate to the Darwell Reservoir Woods.

A short climb leads to Kent Lane before a gentle descent to the outskirts of Robertsbridge and the walk up to the centre of the village. The final few miles make up the lowland walk along the Rother Valley to Bodiam Castle.

There are some stiles to negotiate along the tracks and fields and a little road walking on country lanes. In wet weather it can be very muddy in places.

After Bateman’s, there are no pubs, shops or tearooms en-route until Robertsbridge – so be warned.

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