To the west of Rye is the small village of Udimore with its ancient parish church set well away from the busy main road. John Harmer heads north across the Tillingham valley in the High Weald to see much more springtime flora and fauna.

[1] UDIMORE Parish Church, dedicated to St Mary has been a place of Christian worship here since Saxon times. Parts of the present building date from the 11th century but with many alterations since.

From the north-west (tower) end of the church, follow the signed footpath through an orchard; then along the right-hand field edge into the pub car park. Go through a gap in the fence and cross the road with care to a bridleway fingerpost opposite.

[2] Follow the metalled track downhill for about 450 yards, passing Newmans Farm including oasts on the right, to go through a hand-gate into a field. Continue direction downhill, through two field-gates in succession and cross a bridge over the River Tillingham.

Ignoring a footpath on the left, continue on the bridleway uphill, through a field-gate and cross the lane. Continue up the driveway opposite passing Hayes Farm and through a field-gate into a field.

Bear left keeping parallel with the field edge. At a gate with a waymark on the post, do not go through it but continue up the left-hand field edge to the top.

Go through a field-gate with a fingerpost hidden in the hedge on the right. Continue direction alongside Coney Wood on the right, bearing right to cross a stile by a field-gate.

[3] Turn right along the lane for about 225 yards; then turn left along a track by a Forestry Commission sign. Most paths and tracks through Beckley Woods are not public footpaths but our route is through Open Access land.

Follow the main track as it descends, veering north-east, for about half a mile.

At the bottom of the hill, follow the track as it turns a left-hand hair-pin bend going uphill in a westerly direction. Continue for about 650 yards, ignoring a track on the left until coming to a T-junction.

Turn left for about 400 yards to Horseshoe Lane where there is another Forestry Commission sign. Turn right, going downhill then uphill, for about 650 yards.

At Little Gate Farm, go through a wrought-iron hand-gate on the right, bearing left to go through another hand-gate. Continue through woodland to cross a stile by a field-gate and bear left to another stile.

[4] Turn right along a lane, past Birds Farm, and where it becomes a woodland track continue direction ignoring a footpath on the left. In about 400 yards, at a sharp left-hand bend, go ahead through a hand-gate along a public footpath.

This is Flatropers Wood Nature Reserve; take a look at the information board. Continue direction (east), passing under power lines and over a series of footbridges until coming to a fingerpost at crossways.

Go through gates; turn right along a sunken path going downhill and cross a stile to leave the wood.

Do not go through the gate ahead but bear left uphill and along the right-hand field edge to a fingerpost with an Official Diversion notice.

[5] Turn left across the field and, at the field boundary, turn right by a waymark to cross a footbridge over Eggshole Brook. Veer left uphill, through a field-gate and straight across the next field to go down a slope and over a footbridge.

Veer right uphill and go alongside a wooden fence on the right. Cross a stile and the grass path to a fingerpost ahead.

Go across the driveway leading to Lower Gate Farm; the country retreat of Sir Paul McCartney (hence the diversion).

Follow the grass path downhill, over a stile, through a kissing-gate, over a footbridge and stile. Continue direction to cross a stile, then uphill across the next field.

Go over a stile, through a woodland strip and over another stile.

Follow the left-hand field edge around until reaching a field-gate leading to a lane and cross an unusual stile, made of logs, opposite.

[6] Veer right across the field to go over a stile and across the next field to another.

Continue down the next field veering right to a gap in trees at the bottom and through a field-gate. Cross the lane to a stile almost opposite and go down the right-hand field edge to a bridge leading back over the River Tillingham. Veer right to the corner of woodland, follow the right-hand field edge and over a stile.

A little farther on, cross a stile on the right along the path around the outside of a private garden.

On coming to a driveway, continue direction uphill to the main road. Cross with care and turn left.

In a short distance, opposite a church sign, turn right along the track leading back to Udimore Church.


Distance/time: Seven miles/three and a half hours.

Public transport: Buses from Hastings, Northiam and Rye to Udimore; alight at The Kings Head (start walk from point 2). Timetable information from Traveline: 0871 200 2233 or

Car: Park in Community Hall car park, near Udimore Parish Church, off B2089.

Underfoot: Field and woodland paths and tracks which may be muddy, if wet; a few difficult stiles which may not be suitable for those less agile; also, some minor roads.

Thirsty work: The Kings Head pub (point 2).

Maps: OS Explorer 124 or 125 and Landranger 199; also a compass for general direction.