1066 Country Walk: Rye to Battle
Taking the usual first train from St Pancras to Ashford International, I manage to buy the correct ticket and get on the right train this time, and only had to wait 10 minutes to switch trains to the service to Rye, arriving in good time. I wasn’t sure of the exact start of the walk but knowing Rye a little I set of in the direction of the main road (A259) out of town, where the road crosses the River Tilingham it describes a hairpin bend on it’s way out of town, from here you can see the Windmill which seems to be the start of the walk. The footpath crosses the train line on both sides of the river but the route starts on the west bank. Pausing to take a picture of the windmill, which is now a bed and breakfast, I took a bearing of the map and headed off in towards the west cross a small park and then heading along the road until I saw the first of the many 1066 markers that I would see today and the route heads off in a south-westerly direction, passing Gibbet Marsh and then continuing along the bottom of a slope called Cadborough Cliff on the map.
After about 1.5 kilometres or 1 mile the path meets a small road and after a few hundred metres turns left heading towards Winchelsea station and continuing on towards the town, this small road also serves a cycle way and there were a number of people cycling along it, as well as the occasional car. At a hairpin bend just outside of Winchelsea the path turns right past a smelly water treatment plant and continues up a hill till it reaches the site of an old windmill with great views across the wonderfully named Hanging Field, from here it was a short walk to Winchelsea.
It had taken me an hour to get to the town, so I sat down and had some water and checked the map, a few walkers passed by in either direction, I spent a little time searching for Spike Milligans gravestone, which I couldn’t find, before setting off South out of town, passing the old town ditch and an old gate house, evidence of Winchelsea’s medieval history. The town was planned in 1281 by King Edward 1, as a replacement for Old Winchelsea an important Cinque Port that was gradually being overwhelmed by the encroaching sea.
Following the excellent signage, I headed uphill towards Wickham Manor farm, as I was cross a path I saw a baby rabbit running pass me pursued by a black stoat which seeing me decided to give up the chase and headed back to it’s den in a small bank, the rabbit had a lucky escape. The route continues along a meadow, gradually going down hill, crossing a road and heading slightly down hill, where after a small walk along the road the path heads uphill past another windmill continue along fields and paths towards the small village of Icklesham, passing a church on the right and heading along a small road which crosses another and heads up pass the Queens Head pub past some pretty houses. It would be possible to get a drink and some lunch here, but I was walking during one of the Covid lockdowns, so I didn’t stop, continuing along the road until it finished and the route continued downhill along a track, passing through some fields of sheep and then heading steeply uphill to Brook Farm where I saw a number of chickens sitting in the dirt. The path changes to a track, which is followed until it take a right turn towards Snalyham Farm. At this point I was barked up by a dog, one of a pair with their owner, the one barking just wanted some attention but the other one was a lovely looking rough collie who was also very friendly. Stopping at Snalyham Farm I had a drink and took of my merino top which I had been wearing under my shirt, the day was starting to get warm. A number of walkers passed by doing the route in the opposite direction to me, ie East to West.
The route continues along a track passing a number of small buildings and farms then heading off into some fields at the bottom of a valley, with a number of turning crossing a small stream, the signage makes this slightly complicated route easy to find and coming to Lower Lidham Hill Farm the route switches to a small road, marked as Fourteen Acre Lane, which you follow for about 1 kilometre before turning sharply right and crossing the railway line here. Anyone wanting to break their journey here can take a train from the nearby Doleham Station, which is nearby. After crossing the railway you pass through a small field you can find a signpost marking Hasting to Doleham variant of the 1066 Country Walk, it’s about 6 miles or 10 kilometres to Hasting from here. The main path continues up a steep hill where you can find one the new sculptures that have been added to the route this year (2021), It takes the form of a small wooden circle with a number of Saxon themed sculptures, (called a wooden henge by a local I talked to), I was hoping to see more but hopefully there will be more on rest of the route. After the henge the routes heads across a large field of sheep past a farm and then through some fields before changing to a small path through woodlands that heads towards the village of Westfield. The route passes through the edge fo the village crossing a number of roads, but there are a number of pubs shown on the map so it would be possible to get some refreshment here.
Once I was through the village I had a quick sit down and checked the map and was pleasantly surprised to find that Battle was not too far, maybe another 3.3 miles or 6 kilometres or thereabouts. The footpath continues down hill though woodlands, heading northward for a time before heading west once more towards a minor road around Sprayside Farm, where it continues by the side of a stream before reaching the A21, which is crossed and then there is short walk through Sedlescombe Golf Club. In contrast to most routes that cross golf courses the route here is well-marked, some of the golf courses on the Capital Ring or London Loop are awful to cross as there is no signage, the golfers often are not too keen on walkers trying to find their way across the fairways. After the golf course you reach the aptly named Great Wood, which is crossed on wide bridleways to reach the outskirts of Battle town. A few 100 metres along the road was a turn off for the station, I’d missed the bus back to Rye by one minute, so rather than wait an hour, I brought a period return and settled down for a long journey as of course the train journey back involved the now traditional dreaded rail bus replacement service, the bus part taking over an hour to cover all the stations.