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The grounds of Bodiam Castle

Frosty winter grounds with exterior south side of Bodiam Castle in backdrop, East Sussex
A view of Bodiam Castle on a frosty morning | © National Trust Images/David Sellman

The parkland and wider landscape around Bodiam Castle includes wetland, grassland, veteran trees and deadwood habitats, alongside archaeological features and walking routes. The combination of environments provides food, breeding sites and shelter for wildlife throughout the year, and there are plenty of species to look out for as you explore.

Walking at Bodiam Castle

Put on your wellies or walking boots and head out on a walk around Bodiam Castle grounds or the nearby countryside for views across the beautiful Rother valley. Discover the woodland area on top of the west hill which has an informal den building area for families.

Great for photos

Walks around the grounds provide great photographic opportunities. Capture the sandstone of Bodiam Castle highlighted in the sun, its reflection in the moat, or views of the towers framed by mature trees.

Historic remains at Bodiam Castle

Close to the castle is a pillbox from the Second World War, which was part of a line of defences along the River Rother. It was built in 1940 to slow down an advance from the south.

A close up image of a mallard duck with its neck tucked in sitting on the grass banks of the moat at Bodiam Castle
A mallard duck on the banks of the moat at Bodiam Castle | © National Trust Images/Gesine Garz

Deep water

Please be aware of the moat and river, which have steep banks and deep water.

Wildlife to look out for

Find out what to look and listen for as you explore the grounds with a spotter sheet from visitor reception.

Aquatic life

The castle moat is teeming with wildlife from carp and eels to tench and even the odd goldfish. The majority of fish are carp, including mirror, ghost and koi.

The medieval toilets would once have been emptied into the moat, and originally the carp lived in ponds elsewhere on the estate.

The banks of the moat are home to mallard ducks who love visitors. You’re likely to receive a noisy welcome from them.

Minibeasts

Lesser stag beetles have been found in the large wood pile and rely on rotting wood above ground. The red-tailed blood bee is nationally rare but can be found at Bodiam Castle, emerging from the bare ground in spring and summer.

Birds

Birds of prey

Tawny owls are strictly nocturnal hunters and are rarely seen during the day but have been heard here at dusk. Males and females can be heard hooting their duet calls from late autumn through the winter months and breed early in the year.

Buzzards soar above Bodiam Castle making use of the nearby open grasslands and farmland, occasionally perching on the castle’s tall oaks.

See kestrels perched on the old oak trees and the castle’s window ledges. They are cavity nesters and have been known to nest in the castle towers.

Woodpeckers

The loud, laughing call or ‘yaffle’ of the green woodpecker – the largest of the UK woodpecker species – can be heard as it re-establishes its mate in spring.

Great spotted woodpeckers can be heard mostly between March and May, drumming on dry tree branches to attract females and warn away other males. Look out for woodpecker holes in the mature trees.

A close up image of a Daubenton’s bat
A Daubenton’s bat | © National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

Bats at Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle has one of the most important bat roosts in the UK. In May 2013, the earliest birth of wild baby bats was recorded here, when four Daubenton’s pups were discovered.

Home to six species

Six bat species have been recorded at the castle: Daubenton’s, Natterer’s, brown long-eared, common and soprano pipistrelles, and serotine. Daubenton’s feed on invertebrates across the surface of water, as do Natterer’s, so the wetland habitats of the moat and River Rother at Bodiam make it an attractive place to live.

Daubenton’s bat maternity roost

The Daubenton’s bats make up the majority of the bats at Bodiam Castle. Numbers vary year to year, but on average there are over 200 of this species, with 362 recorded in 2022. The volunteers who count the colony believe it is the largest known Daubenton’s bat maternity roost in the UK.

A view of the classic pale stone Bodiam Castle with towers and crenellations surrounded a moat and greenery

Discover more at Bodiam Castle

Find out when Bodiam Castle is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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