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Robertsbridge And Bodiam Walk

We like at least one epic walk each summer so we sent Robert Veitch on a Rother Valley ramble, full of rivers, railways and resplendent scenery. It’s a grand walk that makes for a grand day out, so pack your knapsack, grab a coffee and head for Robertsbridge

From the Station Road car park, or the station (if that is your start point), head west, about 20m past the level crossing, then take the footpath on the right.

Follow the path past feather edged fence panels to the lamppost, then continue north, parallel to the railway as far as the kissing gate. Hug the right side of the field, gently downhill to the far corner and the footbridge. In the next field, keep right and continue to the 3-way fingerpost.

Turn right, through the gateway and under the railway to the gated footbridge, then into the meadow. After 50m bear left, under power lines, over the small bridge, easing right at the fork, through the gateway, and under the heritage railway. Turn left and walk between the railway and the cricket ground to the road junction.

Turn left, crossing the River Rother and following Northbridge Street to the roundabout and the A21. Cross the road at the traffic lights and continue east, along the pavement of Church Lane.

Once the pavement runs out, walk with care on the right hand side towards any oncoming traffic for just over ¼ of a mile, ever so gently uphill into the village of Salehurst, which has been in existence since before the Domesday Book.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin provides a worthy distraction. The actors, Harry Andrews and Basil Hoskins are buried side by side in the churchyard. Also resident is Alfred Milner, who served in David Lloyd George’s WWI war cabinet and was involved in instigating the first two minute silence in 1919. Keeping the grass under control is a small flock of sheep – how wonderful, how very English!

Continue up the road, then around to the right as indicated by the ‘Bodiam 3½ signpost. The road drops downhill and over the stream, before the only real climb of the day, through the trees of Rocks Hill, for ½ a mile, all the way to the traffic island. Turn right and continue along the ridge of Bourne Lane for 400m, then around a tight-ish left hand bend, to find a rickety looking stile on the right.

Crossing the stile is the high point of the day at 71m (232 feet). Follow the line of telegraph poles on the right of the field to the open gateway. Strike out across the middle of the next field towards the tiny gap in the distant trees, where there is a stile. In the next field aim left of the copse and continue in the same general direction to the 2-sleeper bridge and stile.

Treat any livestock in the next field with respect, and follow the path to the seesaw stile and the road junction. Cross the road with care to the kissing gate, then across the field to the 2-step  stile. 15m further on, turn left into the trees, over a stile, then past the pond and over the footbridge to the drive.

Turn right and continue past the buildings, metal 6-bar gate, and wooden 5-bar gate. Beyond this, the path is wide and continues for ¾ of a mile to Bodiam.

Walkers who are not distracted by the 14th century castle should turn right and walk south as far as the bridge over the River Rother. The steps on the right, immediately preceding the bridge, lead down to the flood plain. Follow the green carpet, parallel to the river, in the shadow of the levee, along the avenue of willow and Himalayan balsam, for just over a mile to the junction with the road at Udiam.

Turn left and walk extremely carefully along the road for about 75m to the gate in the hedge beside the mirror. Continue up the drive the to bridge with the ‘ducks’ sign. Take the gate on the right, through the tunnel of willow to another  gate. Beyond this, walk uphill to the 3-step stile, then to the top of the hill.

Turn right, past the metal barrier and concrete bollards then 100m further on veer left and uphill past piles of insulation. After another 100m bear left at the oil tank, through the gap then up to the brow in the field, which at 55m (179 feet) is the second high point of the day.

Continue past the redundant stile at the entrance to Holmans Wood to the fingerpost a few steps beyond. Turn right and walk through the woods to emerge at the orchard. Turn left and downhill, then 60m later, turn right walking between the trees to the track, then across it, into Crainham Wood, for 75m to the junction with the road.

Cross with care to the fingerpost opposite, through the trees to a footbridge and then a crop field. Keep left and follow the edge of the field to the footbridge. Do the same in the next field and in the field after that, at the end of which the path turns north, past a row of poplar trees. At the fingerpost, turn left, and continue along the right hand side of the field, then alongside the post and rail fence to the 2-step stile.

Once across the pasture and another stile, the homeward leg is underway. Follow the tarmac of Redlands Lane for about a mile, until the pavement appears on the left. The pavement veers away from the lane, up and over the A21, emerging on the other side, as if by magic, back in the village of Robertsbridge. It’s a short hop past the tile-hung character cottages on Fair Lane to the High Street.

From here it’s left then right, back to the car park or the station. But why rush… surely there’s time to reward oneself for an epic summer walk, well done.

  • Distance: 9. miles
  • Walk Time: 3½ - 3¾ hours
  • Stiles: 10
  • Kissing Gates: 2
  • Footwear: Trainers should be fine at this time of year
  • Top Tip: Take something to eat and something to drink if it’s a hot day
  • Elevation Gain: 174m (570 feet)
  • Calorie Burn: Approximately 880 kcal
  • Map: OS Explorer 136
  • Parking: Free parking at the Rother District Council car park on Station Road
  • Trains: See southeasternrailway.co.uk for services to and from Robertsbridge

Robert has tested the route personally, making sure it is suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email editorial@sussexliving.com