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Jay Walking

1066 Country Walk: Battle to Pevensey Castle

I arrived at Battle Abbey on a cloudy Sunday morning, rain had been forecast, and I was prepared for it. The journey down from Charing Cross had been simple, no dreaded rail bus replacement service today. I brought a coffee from a shop opposite the Abbey entrance and sat down to look at the map and then set off in the wrong, direction down the high street, but eventually found the right track which goes along the Abbey wall on the western side. Unfortunately you are unable to see the actual battlefield which is. along with the Abbey, is well worth a visit and if you're around on the nearest weekend to the battles anniversary (14 October) there is a re-enactment. A few hundred metres along the path there is one of the new sculptures created for this walk, set amongst some trees, it is of a figure wearing a crown, with the body bisected by an arrow like shape, a reference to Harold’s arrow in the eye myth, which has largely been debunked. Harold was in fact hunted down by 4 of Williams knights and brutally killed. To me, though, the sculpture looked more like something from one of the Lord of the Rings films than anything to do with the Battle of Hastings.

Battle Abbey
The front of Battle Abbey on a cloudy day
Man shaped sculpture wearing a crown
One of the sculptures created for the 1066 Country Walk

A little way from the sculpture there is a marker post, where the route splits, one variant heading off towards Bexhill while the main route goes towards Pevensey Castle, which was where I was heading. Crossing a field and then following a muddy path through some woods, before heading along a track for about a kilometre before entering Hoathybank Wood and then crossing a few fields, after which you reach a road (B2204) with some fast moving traffic. Crossing carefully, I headed across a small field and then followed the road through the village of Catsfield, turning right after the White Hart Inn along a track which passes some farm buildings and a large pond on your right before entering Eight Acre Wood.

The track heads through the woods in a North Westerly direction for a couple of kilometres, crossing a few fields before emerging onto the A271 between a couple of buildings. The traffic on this road was pretty fast and hard to see coming and after crossing the walk continues on into a large meadow called Steven’s Crouch, which you enter via a stile. There were good views to the west from here as the ground drops away from in front of you, the weather was starting to look bad, so I hurried on past a large many limbed oak tree, which reminded of the Banyan trees you see in India. In a small wood at the bottom of Steven’s Clough, I crossed a small stream and stopped to eat some pound cake, it had started raining a bit now I headed on, taking a bearing as this was one of the few locations where the signage was not good. The route heads uphill to Tent Hill, so called because William the Conqueror’s army is said to have camped here the night before the Battle of Hastings. By the time I reached the top of the hill, the rain was coming down strongly, I was quite wet and getting cold, so I struggled into my waterproofs cursing for not putting them on earlier. Heading off steeply downhill, in the direction indicated by a marker I reached a fence and spent a little while wandering about trying to find the right path, eventually finding it a little to the left of a gate that closes off a track, it’s hard to see until you are on top of it.

White Hart Inn, Catfield village
After this pub the route takes a sharp right
View from Steven Clough
Looking westwards from Steven Clough

Once over the stile, the path descends some steps and crosses a small stream and then heads gradually uphill through a number of fields before reaching a track which is followed to a small quiet road, marking the start of a few kilometres of road walking, only broken by a crossing of a small meadow, after which you continue along another quiet road, passing through the wonderfully named Brown Bread Street, which is not a street but a village. The route continues south down Bray’s Hill crossing Henley’s Bridge at the valley bottom before heading steeply uphill again, the route continues along a track southwards while the road heads off sharply West.

An oak tree near Stevens Clough
Many limbed oak tree which I found quite impressive
Ash Tree Inn, Brown Bread Street
The only pub in the village of Brown Bread Street

This south trending track continues for about a kilometre where it reaches Gardners Farm, and proceeds along the left-hand side of a line of trees. I stopped for a break in a small copse before following the path over a small footbridge and then along some muddy paths. The signs were pretty good, but I took a bearing up the steep hill into the village of Boreham Street, where the walk continues through the village. Passing the Bull Inn pub, I saw the car park was quite full, this was the first Sunday since pubs had been allowed to serve people inside since the COVID-19 restrictions has been loosened and the Bull seemed to be doing a good trade.

Avoiding the temptation of the pub, I turned left, following a sign though some woods, gradually descending through some woods and a number of paddocks and over a few stiles. While going through Boredom Street, the weather had remained depressingly cloudy, but now the sun had come out, and it was feeling quite warm, and I continued around the edge of a newly planted field before reaching the busy Wartling Road, near the village of Wartling. A little way North the walk turns west past the Observatory Science Centre with it’s many domes housing telescopes. Here is another of the sculptures that had been newly created for this walk. This one was of a comet along with a Latin quote ISTI MIRANT STELLA meaning 'These people marvel at the star'. The quote is taken directly from the Bayeux Tapestry panel where Halley's Comet is shown, presumably the sculpture is located here because of the Science Centre in a nice merging of art, history and science. A little way on from this Herstmonceux Castle can be seen, I stopped here to take off my waterproofs as the day was now hot, and I was beginning to feel like a boil in the bag chicken inside them.

The Observatory Science Centre near Wartling Road
The Observatory Science Centre showing a number of domes housing telescopes
Another one of the sculptures created for this walk
Sculpture showing a comet, a reference to Halley's comets 1066 visit to earth

The path eventually reaches a church where you get your first view of the Pevensey Levels. Finding the route from the church is a little confusing, as the route describes an arc, shown on the map as a track but not really visible on the ground. You need to pick up a path that is directly South of the Church. It's worth getting out your map and compass to help you, I was lucky and two women walking a very friendly dog pointed me in the right direction. Once on the right track, the route is well signed, and soon you reach the body of water known as Hurst Haven which is followed for a couple of kilometres past hundreds of sheep and a smattering of cows until you reach the small village of Rickney. Emerging on to a small road you turn right and cross a small bridge to your left where there is another signpost marking (yet) another variant of this walk. To the right the walk continues to Jevington and to the left it continues on to Pevensey Castle along a river called Pevensey Haven. Continuing along this waterway for about 3 kilometres, with occasional views of Pevensey Castle, before crossing the busy A27. A few hundred metres ahead are the walls of Pevensey Castle, originally a Roman fort which was extended during the medieval period. I arrived around 15:30 and sat in the castle grounds finishing my lunch, before heading to Pevensey and Westham Station, I'd just missed one of the hourly trains, so I sat and waited for the next one and headed home, to find that I'd caught a bit of the late sunshine and my face was quite red.

The inside of Pevensey Castle
The inner bailey built by the Normans within the Roman walls of Pevensey Castle

Additional info

Date walked
23 May 2021
Distance walked
24 km or 14.91 miles
Weather
Cloudy with some drizzle, occasional rain showers