A walk from Storrington to Amberley Wild Brooks and back, watching the slowly changing seasons. Walk twice, look thrice.
Mid March didn’t throw up many sunny days. A combination of grey cloud and European smog meant any hope of spring sunshine was a rare event. I was lucky then and had a free day during the week on one such hazy sunny day.
I chose to walk once more to Amberley by the River Arun, a walk that’s familiar to me and takes in the South Downs Way and the West Sussex Literary Trail.
Storrington Mill Pond | Look Again
I’ve covered the route of this 12 mile circular walk before here – High Road to Houghton which I walked in January. Today I wanted to see how the landscape was changing as the season was changing; from winter to spring.
The River Stor in Storrington flows through the heart of the village, a source of flood worry in wet winters and an opportunity to fish and feed ducks for the rest of the year. Adjacent to the library car park, a second or two from the busy high street traffic is the Mill Pond. Now used for private fishing Mill Pond is fed by a chalk spring below Chantry Hill and was once the power for Storrington’s mill.
The buildings in Storrington had a touch of spring about them, green grass growing once more and stonework looking bright under the morning sunshine. I climbed up Kithurst Hill through the woods at the end of Greyfriars Lane, thankful that the chalk underfoot was now much firmer. Almost all my footsteps resulted in forward momentum!
There was warmth in the woodland air, the spring bulbs appearing from the forest floor would soon fill this area with colour and wildlife.
Kithurst Hill – Toxic Smog
After walking up several hundred feet I arrived at the top of the South Downs, to be greeted by a glider, circulating overhead taking advantage of the rising air currents. The fields had been freshly ploughed and crops were emerging all around from the ground. Being a week-day walk I didn’t have too many people to say hello to! Skylarks sang beautifully in the breeze as I walked alongside the arable fields, I could listen to their birdsong all day. Here’s a link to a Skylark RSPB page with audio.
Normally from the top of Kithurst Hill you can see the English Channel to the south and the North Downs to the north but today there was a heavy toxic smog over much of England.
Smog analysis of the cloud showed that up to 90% of the pollution was generated in European cities, much of it “stale diesel” from traffic.
I was lucky to be able to see 2 to 3 miles at the most, whereas on a typical bright breezy day I could normally see 20-30 miles in one direction.
As I write this blog post a couple of days later the smog is still lingering over parts of Southern England, it certainly makes you think about how we treat our part of the planet.
River Arun Re-walked
I headed in the direction of the River Arun at Houghton as I descended Amberley Mount and walked through Downs Farm, saying hello to a cow that was watching me as they do. As I left the main road at Amberley Railway Station and followed the banks of the River Arun I was greeted as usual by my favourite SDW footbridge.
It doesn’t matter how many times I walk this stretch of the River Arun and South Downs Way, I cannot help but stop and take photos of the reeds, the water, the bridge. This walk was no exception, I would apologise but I think you understand. Some views just never become “same old, same old.”
I followed the banks of the River Arun until I was opposite the village of Bury. All the time the sound of the breeze rustling the reeds accompanied my footsteps, a far cry from a typical Wednesday lunchtime in the South East of England.
Ducks swam in the river and crows circled above the fields calling their harsh caw caw. It wasn’t a bad spot to be on a hazy afternoon.
Amberley Wild Brooks
Leaving the River Arun behind I took a footpath across the Wild Brooks flood plain towards the pretty village of Amberley. As I mentioned the last time I wrote about this walk; you must only walk on the legal footpaths to avoid disturbing the wildlife. The ground even when the weather has been dry for some time can be very boggy, so take care and don’t stand still!
The railway from Bognor to London cuts across the flood plain, I often wonder if anyone looking out the train window reads this blog. The proximity of Amberley railway station means you could incorporate some lovely walks around this area even if you live in the suburbs of London. Come and explore wetland Sussex, it’s good for the mind.
I could have spent hours here looking into the numerous streams, crystal clear water tricking from between the reeds. Swans gliding silently on the water. This would make a wonderful landscape for some sunset photography, miles of sky.
Amberley Chocolate Box Village
Leaving the wetlands behind doesn’t mean leaving the photo opportunities behind. Amberley is a typical chocolate box village, to use that phrase. More at home with what you’d expect to find in rural Dorset than the busy South East.
Normally walking down streets wouldn’t be my idea of a pleasant hike in the countryside but Amberley is quiet enough to make it enjoyable. There is a village store as well for provisions. A pub and several B&Bs make this a good location for a walking holiday; am I selling the idea to you yet?
I wandered through the village, not difficult to get lost as the South Downs provide a beautiful backdrop to the south and the Amberley Wild Brooks wetlands provide the northern scene. Thatched cottages dominated the immediate vicinity. Now for a modest lottery win.
Return to Parham Park
I took the West Sussex Literary Trail across the fields towards Rackham Mill and Parham Park. The fields still wet in places from natural springs but the ground is drying out and the crops are appearing. The final part of my walk was again through the grounds of Parham Park along the tarmac road and fields, following the footpath signs as always.
The deer were keeping their distance as usual but as always the landscape was lovely to walk through. Parham House does re-open at Easter time onwards for the tourist season so don’t expect this kind of isolation every day of the week. Parham makes for a gentle end to a medium distance walk and the rolling slopes of the drive are kinder on the legs at the end of the day than the South Downs hills.
After taking several more photos of the lovely trees at Parham I headed out of the park and back towards Storrington for the end of the circular walk. I’ll include the map (from other blog article) of a slightly longer version of this walk to give you an idea of the route.
Route: Storrington to Houghton and back.
Distance: 13.04 miles (20.98 km)
Map of Walking Route
The map shown is a rough guide to the route that I walked. Please make sure you always follow safe and legal paths, roads and walkways. The actual location of the red-route on the map is an approximation. Never walk in the sea or off a cliff, please just don’t, you’ll get wet and I’ll get worried!