Sussex walk at Bodiam Castle and the River Rother
PUBLISHED: 10:09 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:09 07 March 2017
©National Trust Images/John Millar
Combine a visit to Bodiam Castle with this circular stroll along the River Rother
This imposing 14th century castle was erected as a defence against the French during the Hundred Years War. Built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a knight of Edward III, it was inhabited by many generations of his family, until it passed into the Lewknor family. The Lewknors were supporters of the House of Lancaster, and the castle was surrendered to the House of York in 1483 when they went to besiege it. The ruin has been owned by the National Trust since 1925 and is a fine example of a medieval castle, possessing impressive towers in a quadrangular layout, spiral staircases, a wooden portcullis, and a spring-fed moat. The latter is large to make the castle appear larger and more dramatic: today this immense water feature is very pretty, but originally – when the castle’s 28 toilets drained into it – it would have been an open sewer! The ruin featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as Swamp Castle. “When I first came here,” declares the King of Swamp Castle (played by Michael Palin), “this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, lad, the strongest castle in all of England.”
Where to refuel
The Castle Inn (01580 830 330; castleinnbodiam.co.uk; TN32 5UB) in Bodiam village is just across the road from the castle car park. The delicious menu includes a mixture of traditional pub fare and interesting sophisticated dishes prepared with locally sourced produce; there are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, as well as a children’s menu and a selection of sandwiches (which can be made with gluten-free bread).
• Location: Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex
• Distance: 3m (4.8k) – 1-1½ hrs to walk.
• Terrain: flat track and riverbanks, which can be muddy.
• Where to park: In the National Trust Bodiam Castle car park.
1. From the east end of the National Trust Bodiam Castle car park, walk towards the south end of the castle. Follow the wide track, which skirts around to the right around the castle.
2. Head through the kissing gate, alongside a cattle grid, and walk east upon the wide track that runs alongside fields for half a mile.
3. The track runs to the right of a house, and then continues between fields.
4. Upon reaching the Kent Ditch waterway, head right along the bank. (Do not go over the bridge).
5. When you reach the River Rother, head right and walk along the riverbank for a mile and a half.
6. Veer right back to the car park and the castle.
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