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Bateman's - Kipling's Good and Peaceable Place

Visit the National Trust home of one of Britain's most celebrated writers on this lovely walk in the Dudwell Valley.

Distance 4.8 miles (7.7km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 345ft (105m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Field and woodland paths, stretches of minor road, 16 stiles

Landscape Rolling, semi-wooded countryside of the Dudwell Valley

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorers 124 Hastings & Bexhill, 136 The Weald

Start/finish TQ 674246 (on Explorer 124)

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead in vicinity of Bateman's and Park Farm and on stretches of farmland. Off lead on woodland paths and tracks. Bateman's has a dog crêche

Parking Free car park off A265 in Burwash village

Public toilets At car park

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1 Make for the footpath behind the toilet block, heading for a stile. Follow the path down the slope and look for a gap in the trees on the right. Cross a stile at a junction and continue ahead. Make for the next stile and keep the boundary hedge on your right. Look for a stile on the right and head diagonally down the field, keeping a fenced spinney on the right. Make for a stile in the field corner, follow the field edge to the next stile, and exit to the road.

2 Turn right and follow the lane along to Bateman's. Keep left in front of the house itself and make for Park Farm. Veer left through a gate and then head up the field slope, keeping the trees on your immediate right. Look for a gate and bridleway post on the right, passing through the wood to a track.

3 Bear left, then immediately right and follow the bridleway, keeping left at the fork. Pass a solitary cottage and walk along to the road. Turn right, eventually pass Willingford Farm and then climb quite steeply to a small white house on the right.

4 Go through a kissing gate and head straight along the top of the field. Make for a kissing gate in the corner and head diagonally left in the next field, towards the buildings of Burnt House Farm. The right of way takes you up to the farm buildings and then sharply right, but you may find the route has been diverted across a paddock. Whichever, you should make for a galvanised gate by some trees and go straight ahead in the next pasture, keeping a wrought iron fence and the farm over to your left.

5 Make for a gate ahead and cross the field by keeping to the left boundary. The path cuts across the next field to a stile. Pass through a belt of woodland to a field and head down to a gap in the hedge. Follow a surfaced lane which very quickly becomes a grassy track, passing some dilapidated farm outbuildings.

6 Cross a stile by a waymark and keep right here. Look for another stile after a few paces, turn left and skirt round the edge of the field. Veer over to a stile towards the far end, cross a footbridge and turn left. Follow the path along to a pond, pass a gate and continue for a few paces to the track. Turn left and head back to Bateman's. Turn right by the house and retrace your steps to Burwash and the start.

Bateman's was Rudyard Kipling's refuge from the world. This was his spiritual home and it was here that he found true happiness. Touring the house and exploring the garden, it's not difficult to see why he fell in love with the place.

Bateman's is a charming family home, small and intimate, and occupying a peaceful setting in a secluded valley. Built by a local ironmaster in 1634, the house lies about 25 miles (40km) to the north-east of Kipling's old home at Rottingdean. Kipling purchased the house in 1902 and, now in the care of the National Trust, remains much as it was in Kipling's day.

It was here, in his book-lined study, that Kipling wrote some of his most famous works, including Puck of Pook's Hill. The house, and the peace and tranquillity of the surrounding countryside, greatly inspired him and over the years he acquired more and more land so that he could write and relax away from public scrutiny; 'We have loved it ever since our first sight of it', he wrote later.

Kipling loved the garden just as much as the house, designing and landscaping it and putting his own mark on it. He planted yew hedges to give him more privacy and even erected a pear arch. Visitors to Bateman's can see the results of his labours and they can also take a stroll through the beautiful rose garden which he designed after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

Kipling was not a recluse and, although he relished his privacy, he liked to socialise but was known for his rather curious but discreet manner of asking guests to leave. He would lead them past the garden sundial, which indicated that it was later than it really was and hence suggest that they should make their farewells. He was a keen motorist too. He bought a Rolls Royce, which he maintained was the only car he could afford, and embarked on many journeys, travelling abroad and visiting his old school in Devon. He recorded his travels in detail and even dispatched reports and memos to the Automobile Association.

This glorious valley walk passes Bateman's near the start and then again towards the finish, enabling you to choose when you go there. A tour of the house and gardens reveals how the National Trust has preserved the character and integrity of the man, as well as the atmosphere of the place. Kipling died in 1936, after 34 years at Bateman's. Looking at the house today, it is not difficult to see why he described it as 'a real house in which to settle down for keeps... a good and peaceable place'.

While you're there

Make a point of visiting the watermill at Bateman's. The 18th-century mill, which was restored by volunteers, grinds corn for flour and attached to the wheel is one of the earliest water-driven turbines, installed by Rudyard Kipling to generate electricity for the house. There is a delightful walk from the house to the watermill.

What to look for

The picturesque village of Burwash lies on a ridge between the rivers Rother and Dudwell. There are many white weatherboarded cottages and various tile-hung buildings, making it typical of East Sussex. The war memorial by the church was unveiled by Rudyard Kipling and his son is one of those commemorated. The church has a Norman tower with a shingled spire.

Where to eat and drink

The Bear Inn, next to the car park at Burwash, has been in business for over 300 years and has a main bar where bar meals and ales are served. Alternatively, there is the Kipling restaurant which provides a wide selection of homemade dishes. A carvery is also available. The Bell Inn at Burwash is a delightful 17th-century inn with a log fire and a heavily beamed ceiling, Snacks and more substantial fare are available. Bateman's includes a popular tea room and a picnic area with tables and chairs.

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