urban75 walk club: Robertsbridge and Bodiam Castle
Report by urban75 editor, April 2005
A walk along the Sussex/Kent borders from Robertsbridge via Bodiam Castle and back
Part two: Bodiam Castle and back to Robertsbridge
Lamb on the move!
Walking along a sunken path that brought the floor of the adjacent field up to eye level, we noticed a field full of sheep and lambs. This little fella caught sight of us and ran towards us!
Lambs in spring,
To a chorus of "aww! how cute!" we looked on as these beautiful lambs ran right over to us and then baa'd in a manner sure to melt even the most carnivorous of hearts.
This empty hop garden strikes a desolate chord.
Walking up a rapeseed hill
It was quite a strange experience to walk through the middle of this field full of tall - and very bright - rapeseed plants. Incidentally, the name is derived through Old English from a term for turnip, rapum.
The absolute highlight of the walk was seeing the majestic sight of this incredible castle rise up from a valley as we crossed the brow of a neighbouring hill.
Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrygge as a defence against attacks from France after nearby Rye and Winchelsea had both been sacked and burned eight years previously.
With Bodiam being only 14 miles upstream from Winchelsea on the river Rother, the town was very vulnerable to raiding parties.
Entrance to Bodiam castle
By the end of the 14th century the threat to Bodiam had diminished, so the castle took on the role of a comfortable family home for the Dalyngrygges.
Despite its formidable appearance the only action that the castle saw was during the Civil War (1642-51) when the interior was gutted.
The castle was left to deteriorate for centuries until a local Squire, John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, forked out £3,000 to save it from destruction in 1828.
Not a great deal happened until it was later purchased by Lord Curzon in 1916, who set about on an extensively restoring the castle.
Lord Curzon (bless 'im) bequeathed the castle to the National Trust and it's open to the public between 10am – 6pm, (March until October) and 10am – 4pm weekends from November to February.
Weird duck like thing,
This curious half-duck, half-turkey hybrid with attitude was strutting its stuff by the moat at Bodiam.
Ancient graffiti, Bodiam castle
Throughout the castle, there's lots of old - and not quite so old - graffiti to be found, etched into the stones.
View from the top
You can climb very, very steep stone spiral staircases to reach the top of the castle walls. The view is great from the top!
The well, Bodiam castle
The Postern Tower contained two residential stories (with fireplaces and latrines) and a pigeon loft to provide meat through the winter. In the basement can be found this large well.
Entrance, Bodiam castle
Once protected by a cunning series of bridges and paths which forced attackers to approach with their unshielded right sides exposed, only a simple bridge provides access to the castle.
A ruinous Barbican (centre of picture) lies outside the Great Gatehouse along the causeway.
A last look at the castle before we headed off to the nearby Castle Inn for drinks.
Fact fans might like to know that the castle contained some 33 fireplaces, 10 spiral staircases, and at least 28 latrine chutes.
Empty car park attendant's box
I liked the lighting in this shot of the Bodiam Castle car park. Happily the ominous cloud in the background kept away.
The walk took us out of Bodiam where we left the main road by the bridge over the River Rothy. A few hundred meters away is the preserved Bodiam railways station, the current easterly terminus of the Kent and East Sussex railway.
I was a tad surprised to find a sign for a local boot fair written in a Russian Constructivist font!
Bridge over the River Rother
The bridge over the river Rother at Bodiam, midway between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings, has a long history.
Built on a site of a Roman road, the first reference to a bridge on the site is in 1385, with the present single track, hump-backed triple arch structure being built in 1797 for the County of Sussex by Richard Louch for £1150.
Major maintenance work in 1990 has ensure the bridge's future for decades to come.
On the home straight towards Robertsbridge
The walk took the form of an 18km circular journey, and with only two miles to go we were looking forward to arriving back at the station in no time at all.
Battling through the undergrowth
It may not look much, but this 1km stretch was an absolute nightmare, as it involved negotiating a never-ending forest of stinging nettles, low flying brambles and leg-grabbing undergrowth - while precariously perching on a super-slippery ledge with a river flowing swiftly two metres below. On both sides!
Oh, and one of our party was blind, so Eme had to explain - as best as she could - the forthcoming perils! She did a great job and we all made it safely through.
Robertsbridge, East Sussex
Unfortunately, we didn't have chance to look around Robertsbridge. It's an attractive town stuffed full of history, with the main high street containing many picturesque Wealden Hall Houses and older dwellings.
Waiting for the train home
A tired - but happy - crew wait for the train back to London from Robertsbridge. Russ, the dog, takes a well earned rest!