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Thread: Exploring The Eastern Rother

  1. #1
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    Default Exploring The Eastern Rother

    Finally decided to do a bit more exploring, and with such a fantastic weekend (spring has turned suddenly to summer with temperatures around 25C all weekend) I headed down to the River Rother. This is the Eastern Rother, flowing from Rotherfield in the High Weald of East Sussex into the sea at Rye - not to be confused with the Western Rother in West Sussex.


    A couple of years ago th Rev Douglas Caffyn (river access adviser to the BCU) was the Local River Advisor for this river - though it seems to have dropped out of the latest BCU handbook. He sent me a one page guide which states that the river is a public navigation as far up as Bodiam, but stated also that there is undoubtedly a right of navigation above Bodiam and that in winter it is regularly paddled as far as Etchingham.


    So with that in mind, I headed off intending to try and paddle from Newended to Robertsbridge - about 7-8 miles and then back.


    Put in at Newenden Bridge



    From the put in you then head west across the Rother Levels. This is pretty flat country, and was I think once part of the sea, many years ago. I wouldn't fancy paddling with much wind, but today was very calm. It lacks classic beauty but what it does offer is solitude. There are no real footpaths, and you are really quite alone out here, unusually so for the SE.


    The Rother Levels






    The only company was the occaisonal passing steam train from the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Only managed this shot sadly .





    Paddled past the charmingly named Kent Ditch, which almost joins the Rother but is closed off, presumably as flood prevention. Then on across more flat landscape until finally, I begin to see a few people, and then the towers of Bodiam Castle peeping through the trees.


    A tantalising first glimpse of the castle.



    As you get closer, the river bank blocks off your view completely, so I hopped out to get a decent view of this beautiful and frankly perfect castle. For those who've never seen it, it is the quintessential english castle - towers, keep, and moat and almost completely intact. Well worth a visit (if you don't mind leaving your boat).


    Bodiam Castle



    Onward under Bodiam Bridge.



    From here the river changes rapidly. It narrows down quickly to less than half its previous width, and before long my paddle is hitting the bottom. Small shingle rapids suprise me with their presence, and the previously non-existant current is suddenly gathering pace. The trees start to close in and I am in another country.


    I am surprised by the appearance of an EA weir near the village of Udiam. The weir is not on any map.



    It's not a big obstacle though, so I portage around, and then continue up past a disused railway bridge near Fowlbrook Wood.



    It's getting harder work, and I have run out of time. I abandon the idea of reaching Robertsbridge (still some distance off) and stop for lunch in a pretty spot, gathering my energy for the paddle back.






    After a much needed break I paddle up to one last rapid. Then with a sigh I turn my back and head back downriver.



    I slowly paddle the 6 miles or so back to Newenden. The wind had got up a little, enough to make a long paddle harder, but not so much to cause any real trouble.


    I haven't seen a single other water craft all day, until on reaching Newenden, I see first a couple of hired rowing boats being erratically helmed, and then a couple of open canoes pottering around the bridge. One of them looks familiar, and I recognise Tom, who joined us on The Barle weekend last month. We exchange greetings and paddle over to Simon his paddling partner. They have just acquired Barry(Crocbait)'s Pirahna Traveller and so are beginning the whole adventure that is solo canoeing.


    We shot the breeze for a while before I had to leave. This is their local river, and Tom insisited that it was in fact theirs, and that if I wanted to paddle it again, I'd better give them a call first .


    I reckon in higher water, with a car shuttle arranged, Robertsbridge to Bodiam or Newenden would be a great paddle. But anyway, it was a great day out. Thanks for bearing with me .
    Last edited by Matto; 28th-November-2017 at 06:19 PM. Reason: Switching to Flickr
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matto View Post
    Thanks for bearing with me .
    It was a pleasure

    I expect Wing will be adding the castle to her tour itinerary
    John

  3. #3
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    Sounds like a perfect day out .



    I have a memory of, when I was seven, visiting a perfect castle, complete with moat that you had to access by drawbridge. There were jugglers and people dressed up spit roasting pigs over a fire. Must have been a special event on.

    As I lived not far away from this one (relatively speaking) when I was younger, I always wondered if that was it. Maybe I'll have to visit someday to find out.
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  4. #4
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    This is the kind of thing that made me vote for "Blogg" as my favourite section on the forum. Great stuff, Matto!

    Jim

  5. #5
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    As your blogg shows it's not impossible to get away from the crowds even in the crowded South East on a glorious weekend.

    Great Castle
    Aslan




  6. #6
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    Excellent!!

  7. #7
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    Looks like a nice trip Matto, you up to anything Friday?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dano View Post
    Looks like a nice trip Matto, you up to anything Friday?
    Yeah it was a nice trip.

    Sadly, I'm a classic mon-fri 9-5 worker, so I'll be sitting in my office dreaming of the weekend .
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  9. #9
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    Great blog and pics Matto. Looks like a really lovely area. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Dougie

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matto View Post
    Yeah it was a nice trip.

    Sadly, I'm a classic mon-fri 9-5 worker, so I'll be sitting in my office dreaming of the weekend .

    its the weekend matey


    yesterday all my troubles went away then i met ed basset and now they here to stay

  11. #11
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    what an eloquent description, thanks

  12. #12

    Default River Rother

    I must try this longer paddle, it sounds excellent. This weekend, I paddled the Bodiam Castle part of the Rother with my children, and I'd just like to add that there's a nice campsite just above the EA wier you describe. As you go under the B2244 roadbridge after the wier (heading west), there's a tree which has rope swings attached to it, and approx 100M after that, there's a point to take out at. It's quite a pull to drag your boat up the hill (mine's an Old Town guide 147, and I can manage to do it alone-just), but when you do, you're in the middle of Park Farm Campsite ( www.parkfarmcamping.co.uk). It's a huge site, and you can normally pitch next to the river itself.
    I was there with a group of dads and kids, running a canoe shuttle service up & down to Bodiam Castle, and upstream as far as we could go, and great fun it was too.

    Nice photos by the way! It was just like that this weekend!

  13. #13
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    We took advantage of the higher water yesterday and decided to explore the Rother. Originally we planned Etchingham to Newenden but on arrival we decided to start at Robertsbridge. The trip really split into 2 distinctly different paddles.

    From Robertsbridge to Bodium it was smaller and windy with a number of little fast flowing sections where you could have a bit of a play. A couple of the weirs had a bit of towback and we had a quick look from the bank before running them. There were a few places where small trees caused blockages but we managed to find a way through although we had to saw a few bits of here and there. We were in kayaks which probably helped a bit but it would have been doable in canoe. There were actually 3 weirs on the section, the last one being the one Matt picured above. This had about a 12" single drop today so the river was probably up a couple of feet.

    Bodiam to Newenden was pretty bland by comparison. The flow had dropped off as the river widened with continuous reed and grassy banks obscuring any views. The character doesn't really change at all.

    I'd taken a crossover kayak which actually worked really well on the 2 different types of section, otherwise I think the Bodiam stretch would have been more of a slog.

    I think next time we'd probably try Etchingham to Bodiam but still good to explore somewhere new.

  14. #14
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    Sorry, did you say kayak!?

    Still do explore this Rother. Or the other...!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  15. #15
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    Mal,

    Thanks for this blog, enjoyed reading it. I think i might have a go at this over the weekend if the weather is good although i am considering the Royal Military Canal which looks stunning. The perfect castle is soooo tempting.

    Maj

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverbeard View Post
    Mal,

    Thanks for this blog, enjoyed reading it. I think i might have a go at this over the weekend if the weather is good although i am considering the Royal Military Canal which looks stunning. The perfect castle is soooo tempting.

    Maj
    Wan't my blog Maj! Matto's. Suggest its not the best if the winds are high.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverbeard View Post
    Mal,

    Thanks for this blog, enjoyed reading it. I think i might have a go at this over the weekend if the weather is good although i am considering the Royal Military Canal which looks stunning. The perfect castle is soooo tempting.

    Maj
    Royal Military Canal is lovely. Especially the bit around Appledore. Gets a bit straight as you approach Hythe.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Wan't my blog Maj! Matto's. Suggest its not the best if the winds are high.
    i stand corrected! I will check the winds.

    Thanks Matto, hoping to do this over the weekend. Appledore... i will have a look.

  19. #19

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    We paddled Newenden towards Bodium and back today. We asked at Bodium Boating Station about using their jetty and for 5 you can park there as well, they even helped us carry the boat to the water and out again, saved us a walk from the parking near the recreation ground with a heavy boat.

    The wind was against us going toward Bodium so it was quite hard work, but we got a free ride on the way back.

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