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 one: Towards Bodiam Castle
Alan M: "The weather was lovely, sunny but not too warm. We walked down sunken footpaths lined with bluebells, daffodils, primroses and a purple flower which I don't know the name of. We crossed a number of babbling brooks and rolling rivers, the route was littered with pretty farmhouses, Oast houses, fields full of bright yellow rapeseed, the cutest little lambs and quaint little villages here and there. We also saw the most bizarre goose ever and even some wild deer! The pubs served the wonderful Harveys Sussex Best, or Shepherd Neame brews."
Brixton railway station
Conveniently, we were able to catch a train from Brixton tube station to Robertsbridge, with a coffee-grabbing change at Orpington.
Robertsbridge railway station
The South Eastern Railway (SER) opened their line from Tunbridge Wells to Robertsbridge on September 1st 1851, with the line arriving at the cutely named Bopeep junction on the Brighton to Hastings line on January 1st 1852.
Station buildings, Robertsbridge, Sussex
The substantial Italianate style station at Robertsbridge.
Signal box, Robertsbridge railway station
One of the few signal boxes to survive the line's electrification in 1986, the wooden structure overlooks a level crossing to the south of the station.
An overgrown bay on the down side of the station was the terminus for the Rother Valley Railway which opened in 1900 to Rolvenden (then named Tenterden).
Passenger trains stopped running in January 1954 but goods and hop pickers specials survived until 1961.
Happily, the northern section from Bodiam to Tenterden is now the preserved K&SR steam railway. There are hopes that the southern link to Robertsbridge can be reinstated and a collection of railway coaches and equipment can be seen in the yard.
Sheep and lambs, Robertsbridge, Sussex.
It's only when you get out of London that you begin to really notice the change in seasons...
Down the hill
The early morning start had scared off some of the lightweight walking crew, but the five person-plus-dog party were ready for some serious a-walkin'!
A somewhat less-than-convincing scarecrow looks over the classic Weald countryside of rolling hills, woods, hop fields and orchards.
Crossing the tracks
A mile and an half out of Robertsbridge, we crossed the main London - Hastings tracks
White Horse Inn, Silverhill, Hurst Green
A lunch stop was called for after a few miles into the walk, and we grabbed some suitably hearty fare at this pub.
I went for the excellent Ploughman's lunch that features an enormous slab of cheese.
Two lovely pints of Harvey's Sussex Bitter!
I was delighted to find that the pub stocked Harvey's Sussex Bitter - one of my very favourite ales!
Walking through East Sussex
Looking across the fields...
On the walk from Robertsbridge
Ms T, Ricky and Russ the dog lead the way...
Old farm machinery
Close up of some rusting farm machinery.
I liked this wooden sign (with perhaps an option or two too many!)
Through a bosky glade
With the sound of a (thankfully) fenced-in pack of polar bear sized pedigree dogs fading into the distance, we strolled down this lovely glade, with a floor covered with bluebells, daffodils, primroses and a mystery purple flower.
The Kent and Sussex landscapes are peppered with the distinctive outlines of Oast Houses, although after the decline of the hops trade, most of them have now been converted into private houses.
Oast house, East Sussex
Around this point, the walk took us off the path and straight through someone's private garden! It felt very odd, but it was our right to walk there, so we trundled through.
Crossing a big field
It was lovely to wander through big, open spaces.
Merriments Lane, near Hurst Green
I liked the name of this road!
The walk took us through some beautiful scenery.
A picturesque forest scene.