A generally easy walk along country lanes and across fields with some stiles, passing close to Herstmonceux Castle. The moated castle is one of the earliest important brick buildings in the country, having been constructed in the mid fifteenth century by Sir Roger Fiennes. In 1946, it became the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, who stayed for 40 years. Now owned by the Queen’s University of Canada, the House and Gardens can be visited between April and October, whilst the Science Centre is open though much of the year.
Starting in the picturesque village of Boreham Street, a large part of this walk, including this section, follows the route of the 1066 Country Walk which runs between Pevensey and Rye. Walking across fields and along lanes, the castle is reached just before halfway round.
Two walk choices – 4.75 miles, 7.6k, 2.5 hours, linear route from Bodiam to Northiam (use Kent & East Sussex Railway to return to Bodiam) and 6 miles (9.7k) circular.
Several pubs along the way – Castle Inn oppsosite the Castle at Bodiam, White Dog at Ewhurst Green (walk one), Salehurst Halt at Salehurst (walk two, closed Mondays, attractive garden with views). Refreshments at Bodiam and Northiam stations.
These walks are two of 6 Railtrails by the Kent & East Sussex Railway, a small rural light steam railway. The line gently wends its way from Tenterden in Kent for ten and a half miles, through the unspoilt countryside of the Rother Valley, passing through several stations including Northiam, to terminate in the shadow of the magnificent and perfectly moated National Trust castle at Bodiam.
Both walks begin in Bodiam. The first passes the 15th-century timber-framed manor house of Great Dixter set in one of the most beautiful gardens in England, created in 1910 by English architect Edwin Lutyens and renowned for the use of bold planting and strong colours by the late gardener and gardener writer Christopher Lloyd. The walk ends in Northiam where you can catch the train back to Bodiam or the start of the line in Tenterden.
The second walk includes a good section of waterside walking along the River Rother, passing the site of the Cistercian Robertsbridge Abbey, founded in 1176. Nothing survives of the abbey church, but substantial parts of the monastic buildings are incorporated into the private Abbot’s House which now occupies the site. The Salehurst Halt is a good stopping point for refreshment before returning to Bodiam across field paths.
accessible by bus and train – extra walk to/from station
This short circular walk from the edge of Rye passes Camber Castle and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and starts out by following the route of an old railway line. Camber Castle was built in 1539 by Henry VIII to defend the threat of being invaded by France and Spain, and is one of a series of forts along the south coast. The castle, once on the edge of the sea, is now two miles from the coast. It has taken around 500 years for the land to fill up with silt, and this has helped form the land that make up the nature reserve. Camber Castle is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from July to September at 2pm for a guided tour. Admission £3 adults.
Disabled and Buggy Access: This route is possible with more robust wheelchairs and all-terrain buggies but is challenging. It is not a hard surface.