Walking the High Weald

Talking the Walk

3 Castles Blind Vets Pt 2

The second part of the story, from Goudhurst to Bodiam with tales of Papal spies, murder, furnaces and forges, Mad Jack Fuller and aliens in Roberstbridge


A Treasure Trove of History in the High Weald

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

The new History Walk from the author of 1066 Harold’s Way

3Cs Cover

There is a treasure trove of history in the High Weald.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House is a walk that discovers the history and beauty of the High Weald and explores the castles and houses and towns and villages along the route.

At the heart of ‘Three Castles’ are Bodiam and Scotney Castles, built to defend against a French invasion. Sissinghurst Castle’s foundation was from the wealth of wool and Bateman’s from the noise and clamour of iron. Once at the heart of England’s iron industry the High Weald’s furnace fires have long gone and the works of man have returned to farming.

But Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House is more than just footsteps, it allows the imagination to be part of the history that brings the High Weald to life.

  • Stand where the Riot Act was read on Benenden Green
  • Marvel at Mad Jack’s Follies and climb the Tower
  • Search for the smuggler’s graves in Burwash Churchyard
  • Repel the Hawkhurst Gang at Goudhurst
  • Imagine life as a hop-picker in the cottages by the River Teise and much more

There are tales of smugglers, Napoleon’s horse, aliens in Robertsbridge, Mad Jack Fuller, Bloody Baker, Admiral ‘Foulweather Jack’ Norris, and the Captain Swing mechanical riots that swept the country in the early 19th century.

But be careful when you walk for there’s a ‘Vengeful Dragon’ hiding in Angley Wood.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House is available from:

  • Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones and all good bookshops.
  • Price: £9.99
  • ISBN: 9781910440056
  • Publisher: Bretwalda Books

Talks The Speakers List


  • 1066 Harold’s Way
  • Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House
  • The Saxon Times publication 2016

Short Walks

  • A Green St Leonards Walk
  • 1066 Two Battle Circular Walks
  • 1066 Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Vinehall

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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