A DAY OUT IN BODIAM, EAST SUSSEX — GUIDE TO THE BEST 9 THINGS TO DO
Set in the heart of East Sussex in the beautiful Rother Valley, surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills is an idyllic English village, Bodiam. This small village is famed for the 14th century best loved castle which is owned by the National Trust. Bodiam Castle is one of the highlights in 1066 Country, and for good reason. Its simple and unique design, an iconic moat and the surrounding beautiful lush green scenery along with an amazing history makes it one of the best known in England. While Bodiam Castle is the highlight, there are so many wonderful things to do in and around the village that make a fun day out in Bodiam to be truly timeless. One day in Bodiam is all you need to fall in love with this beautiful part of splendid England.
In this guide to Bodiam, East Sussex, I share the experiences of my recent visit along with the best 9 unmissable activities to get into for a fun day out in Bodiam.
9 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO ON A FUN DAY OUT IN BODIAM, EAST SUSSEX
Here are some suggestions on how to spend one day in Bodiam, East Sussex for timeless memories.
1 | Visit Bodiam Castle, Robertsbridge, East Sussex
Bodiam Castle is a magnificent medieval castle — the kind fairy-tales are made of! The castle sits on an artificial island, magnified by its reflection in the spectacular moat, protected by a wooden bridge, battlements riddled with arrow slits and a portcullis. Built to a simple quadrangle plan, and made of sandstone, the castle is an exceptional medieval survival. The four circular towers at each corner still stand with spiral staircases leading to spectacular views over the rolling hills of the remarkable countryside and the castle courtyard below. There are square central towers in the south, east and west walls. With most of its interiors in ruins, the castle evokes imagination and offers a glimpse into medieval splendour. Bodiam Castle is one of the most photographed castles in England and it is hard not to be clicking away at every corner and turn.
Bodiam Castle was built between 1380 to 1385 by Sir Edward Dallingridge, once a knight to Edward III and his wife Elizabeth. It was in an age of social upheavel and royal disputes which led to the War of the Roses. Having survived the many wars throughout the centuries, this beautiful castle welcomes visitors via a wooden bridge that leads to a twin-towered gatehouse which is the main entrance to the castle. As you walk along the wooden bridge, look below at the gigantic carp!
1.1 | Family Fun Day Out in Bodiam Castle
Though the castle is in ruins, there are many activities for a family fun day out in Bodiam Castle. There are many activities for children organised by the National Trust to make a fun day out in Bodiam, both during school holidays and weekends. Events include archery lessons and falconry walks along with opportunities to find out about medieval warfare during holidays. At other times, children can participate in activities such as Signs of Autumn or Winter, and Dragon Hunt. Christmas Sleigh makes an appearance for the season where you could take a selfie.
Bodiam Castle is owned and managed by the National Trust. Find out more about activities at the castle from their website.
Address: Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5UA.
Visiting Hours: Daily > 10:00 AM to 16:00
Non National Trust Members: Adult from £11:00 | Child: £5.50 | Family: £27.50 | Parking: £4.00
National Trust Members: Free Entry and Parking.
2 | Bodiam Railway Station
Bodiam Railway Station is a historic railway station on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in Bodiam. The station opened in 1900 in what was a rural and remote location as a light railway bringing hop-pickers to and from the fields. It was closed completely in 1961 and reopened in April, 2000 following a purchase by the Kent and East Sussex Railway.
Bodiam Railway Station has been fully restored to its 1900 condition. It’s simplistic design and look is one out of the 1930s picture book! This historic station is worth visiting even if you do not take a ride aboard the steam train. It is free to access the grounds and you can just look around the carriages. The station is run by enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable volunteers who love what they do.
3 | Take a ride aboard the Bodiam Steam Train
The Kent and East Sussex Railway is one of England’s finest rural light railways. The route begins from the old market town of Tenterden at Tenterden Town Station in Kent with Bodiam as the terminus in East Sussex and makes a stop at Northiam Station.
A journey aboard the Victorian Steam Railway is an experience of a bygone age in a beautifully restored Victorian coach as it weaves through a picturesque countryside. For part of its route, the railway follows the course of the River Rother.
The one-way journey is approximately 18 km (11 miles) and takes just under 50 minutes.
Information if you are using Tenterden Railway Station as the startin point
Stagecoach Bus routes 2 and 2a go to Tenterden from Ashford. Route 2 also connects Tenterden with Hastings. Bus 12 goes from Maidstone and bus 312 goes to Tenterden from Rye.
You can also take bus 349 to the Bodiam terminus from either Hastings or Hawkhurst.
4 | Visit The Cavell Van
In the siding at the rear of the platform at Bodiam Railway Station, you shall find the Cavell Van.
The Cavell Van is an item of national significance. It contains a tribute to Nurse Edith Cavell and the Unknown Warrior for internment in Westminster Abbey for the sacrifices made.
Levett was born in Bodiam in 1881 and she was the first female professor of history in England in 1929.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR BODIAM RAILWAY STATION
Address: Bodiam Railway Station, Bodiam Castle Road, Bodiam TN32 5UD England
Road Directions: From junction 9 of the M20 take the A28 to Tenterden. Turn right into Station Road in the centre of the town.
Public Transport Directions: Bus number 400 from Ashford to Tenterden.
There are no parking facilities at Bodiam Station. The nearest safe parking is at Bodiam Castle.
5 | Explore the Walking Trails around Bodiam
Bodiam is set within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and you are spoilt for natural beauty in this corner of East Sussex. There are several walking trails around Bodiam and just three are listed here.
1 | Bodiam Castle Walk — From the castle car park, there is a public footpath that encircles the castle itself. This is an easy walk affording great views of the medieval castle from various view points.
You could do the complete circular walk which is approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles). The 8 km circular walk takes in the Bodiam Castle, the Kent & East Sussex Railway, Bodiam Boating Station and Great Dixter House and Gardens.
2 | The walk from Bodiam Castle to Bodiam Railway Station is a little less than a kilometre, an easy 8-minute walk that takes you over an old stone bridge with views of grassland and river.
3 | Robertsbridge Walk is an 8 km circular walk with some hills and muddy paths. Considered as an easy walk.
6 | St Giles Church, Bodiam
Away from the throng of tourists who visit the beautiful Bodium Castle, sits St Giles, a medieval parish church in the wooded hillside overlooking the valley.
St Giles Church is largely from the 14th century but the base of the tower is said to originate from the 12th century. The building features an Early English architectural style. The church is composed of an embattled western tower, nave, two aisles and a chancel. Notable features are a series of medieval brasses located on the west wall of the tower. One of the brass fragments dates from 1360.
Address: 36 Levetts Ln, Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5UL
7 | Visit a Vineyard in 1066 Country near to Bodiam
7.1 | Oastbrook Estate Vineyard
A stone’s throw from Bodiam Castle, sits an idyllic English Vineyard retreat, Oastbrook Estate Vineyard. Oastbrook offers fun tours and the opportunity to taste their exceptional wines within a breathtaking scenery and an architecturally impressive tasting room. Private events are also catered for as well as accommodation in their luxurious Hobbit House.
Address: Junction Road, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5XA
7.2 | Oxney Organic Estate
Nearby Bodiam is UK’s largest organic vineyard, Oxney Organic Estate. An award winning organic winery and vineyard, Oxney is popular for its pinot noir, chardonnay and seyval blanc vines. Tours are available and you can even stay the night in a converted barn.
Address: Hobbs Lane, Rye, TN31 6TU
Open: 09:00 — 17:00 Monday through to Friday.
8 | Enjoy River Activities and Camping
A stretch of River Rother runs through the quiet countryside of Bodiam and offers incredible opportunities for river activities and camping.
There’s lots to do at Bodiam Boating Station — from kayaking, rowing to stand-up paddle boarding and boat rides. You can enjoy the views and cherish the memories of toasting marshmallows on the campfire when you choose to stay here in your motorhome or tent.
Address: Bodiam Boating Station
Northiam, RYE TN31 6FE
9 | Enjoy a Meal at the Historic Castle Inn
Castle Inn was formerly known as The Red Lion. It was rebuilt in 1885 and renamed. The story of Castle Inn goes way back to the 15th century when merchants and tradesmen would stay at the inn when visiting Bodiam Castle. At that time, the inn was the only provider of accommodation for visitors to the village of Bodiam.
Castle Inn is a traditional pub and is a perfect destination for fine food and exceptional ales in Robertsbridge. There is a large green space at the rear with stunning views of the countryside. Located, literally across the road from Bodiam Castle.
Address: Main Rd, Bodiam, Robertsbridge TN32 5UB
1 | Where to stay near and around Bodiam, East Sussex
In the midst of the stunning surrounding countryside, Sussex county delights its visitors with beautiful beaches, medieval villages, bustling market towns and so much more… If you decide to spend more than one day in Bodiam, check out these places to stay also:
1 | The George Inn, Robertsbridge, East Sussex . The Inn dates back to the 18th century and is elegantly styled with an award winning restaurant to cater for all preferences.
2 | Holiday Home Cricket Cottage, Robertsbridge. A 3-bed house that can accommodate up to 7 persons.
2 | How to get to Bodiam, East Sussex
Bodiam is set within a rural backdrop and is not easily reached by public transport. Therefore, the best way to get around Bodiam is by car. However, you could still reach Bodiam by train and bus. There are three ways to do so:
1 | By train and bus
Take the train to Hastings, then Stagecoach Bus 349 from Hastings to Hawkhurst. The bus stops at Bodiam/Bodiam Castle/Bodiam Railway Station enroute to Hawkhurst.
2 | Take the Kent and East Sussex Railway to Bodiam
Take the steam train from Tenterden Station in Kent to Bodiam in East Sussex. You can reach Tenterden Station by taking bus 2 or 2a from Ashford, bus 2 from Hastings, bus 12 from Maidstone or bus 312 from Rye.
3 | Taxi from Battle, East Sussex
Alternatively, arrive at Battle, East Sussex and take a taxi from Battle to Bodiam/Bodiam Castle. Battle is situated about 12 km (7.5 miles) from Bodiam and journey time is less than 20 minutes.
Timeless Travel Step best tip: Battle is a small railway station. Though there is a dedicated taxi rank, availability is few. You may want to pre-book a taxi to co-incide with your arrival time at Battle Railway Station.
Recommended read: Best Things to do in Battle, East Sussex
ADD TO YOUR BODIAM, EAST SUSSEX ITINERARY
While exploring East Sussex, why not also explore neighbouring Kent?
Kent, South East England is passionately known as the ‘Garden of England’. Kent offers a multitude of things to do and places to see for a day trip or short breaks. From beautiful beaches, stunning castles, awe-inspiring cathedrals to beautiful art galleries, exciting culture and delicious food and drink, this corner of England is one of the best destinations in UK.
Would you like to explore more of the UK? I have you covered!
I visited Bodiam in early November — a day that brought the joys of summer warmth and sunshine, along with the happiness of fallen leaves and changing autumnal colours. It was a long trek though! A two-and-half hours drive each way and I must say, it was definitely worth the trip.
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