4th June & 10th June 2016
Amberley to Ford – 15.33km (9.52 miles)
The reason that i have two dates above is that i have walked this section twice now, once with Belinda, Tim and Kiah on the 4th and then with PK on the 10th which was a good shout as i got to see some of those things that you miss the 1st time round. I shall start the Blog with the trek on the 4th.
4th June 2016 – The night before i was on a numpty bowling night so the head was a little hazy this morning, i must do my planning better……lol. However the start of the day on the train couldn’t have gone smoother after the trouble i had had with them yesterday, cancellations because of sickness and signalling problems. It’s great to have company on my walks and Belinda, Tim and Kiah joined me today for the walk from Amberley to Ford.
On the last leg of the trek i completed the recognised long distance ‘Wey South Path’ and now it is a case of navigating my own route as close to the river and canals as possible; which for this stage will be no problem at all.
The 1st bit of todays trek is across the causeway at Amberley which is not the safest of walks as we have to duck in and out of the recesses on the bridge as cars would pass really quickly and close, it’s not that wide so was a bit scary, fortunately this was only a short bit and on leaving the road we join the banks of the River Arun and start following the course of the river. The river at this point has now become tidal and the tide is coming in with the flow heading inland, bringing lots of seaweed flotsam in with it.
After passing through a few fields we enter South Woods where we are greeted with the soft smell of wild garlic again, the path is still following the river and the ground is quite wet in places, over the last winter this area would have been flooded as the river had burst it’s banks on quite a few occasions. This was probably the reason that all the board walks were in a shambles and falling down, the boardwalks would have enabled you to walk this route when the river is really high and coming over the banks, however they wouldn’t be very effective now. In South Woods you often get people wild camping under the chalk cliffs which is not strictly legal but the little clearings make great camps. We also came across a rope swing that someone had put up and attached to a massive tree, i so wanted to have a go but on looking at it i was concerned that the combination of straps and rope wouldn’t hold my weight, i thought it was best not to chance it.
A few days before the trek i had kind of told Belinda and Tim that it would all be flat as we were following a river, however i forgot about the little climb of about 48 metres on the outskirts of Arundel park, not good for Tim’s knees but hopefully not to bad. The descent back down to the river took us through the tiny hamlet of South Stoke with it’s Saxon Church ‘St Leonards’ that has stood there since the 11th century.
We rejoin the river and continue heading south along the banks, passing through some cow fields before reaching Offham and the famous Black Rabbit pub that has been here for over 200 years. The outdoor seating area here is fantastic as it overlooks the river and has a variety of tables and chairs, a bit cheeky but we decided to sit at one of the benches and sneakily eat our sandwiches, cheese and tomato for me and egg mayonnaise for B & T made by Tim in the morning to Belinda’s exacting standards. The river at this point now had reached it’s high tide and was static with no flow. In the past you would have been able to hire boats from here for pleasure on the river.
After lunch we continued passed the Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre and you could hear the calls of various birds including seagulls that have probably flown in for the free lunch. After a few more kilometres winding around with the river we reached arundel, a beautiful market town with a castle, cathedral and many ghost stories (i’ve taken the tour). We stopped here as i it was time for an ice cream, i had the Rocky Road flavour and B & T the Brownie & White Chocolate flavour. Arundel also makes a good beer, so it would have been rude not to stop off at the Arundel Brewery Shop and get some local beer for when i got home.
The route took us through Arundel Town and past some very old cottages that must have seen plenty of history and then out into the fields to wind our way down to Ford. The South Marsh Mill could be clearly seen on the East side which is now a house, but was built in 1830 and operational up until 1922. On our side we passed Billycan camping, a site set up with Bell tents, Yurts and Tipi’s that you can hire to get away from hustle and bustle of modern life.
Tim’s keen eye spotted many mullets swimming in the shallows of the river that was now on it’s way out, however my eye was not as keen as i kept missing them, but then again Tim is a seasoned angler and knows when to spot a good fish. The clouds and haziness had cleared towards the end and the temperature was rising; which was beginning to sap our energy. As we passed under the railway at Ford we could see the inlet where the Portsmouth section of the canal joined the river. This housed a few house boats but only went in about 50 metres before being blocked by a wall where most likely the lock would have been.
On leaving the river we pass another 11th century church at Ford before joining the road and seeing the last remnants of the canal going underneath. On this last part of the walk we joked every time we saw a train go past that that was our train, even though we knew that there would be plenty more, however the joke nearly back fired as when we were walking up to the station the level crossing gates went down and a train came in, we had to muster up some extra energy and run for the train that we caught by the skin of our teeth and just got on.
On putting my feet up in the garden when getting home the ‘Sussex Gold, beer that i bought tasted so good……..
10th June 2016 – PK has so got into this walking now, he wore his old boots into the ground and were dumped in a bin at Cranleigh and now he is talking about getting a new rucksack to replace the trusty old one that he currently has, i better not take him ‘Cotswold Outdoors’ as it took me one and a half hours to buy my new one, well i had to make sure it was comfy and looking back that was good hour and a half spent. Anyhow the fact that PK has got hooked meant that he couldn’t miss a stage so i was more than happy to redo this section again, particularly as more beer would be involved……
After catching a delayed train to Amberley we set off on the same route as before, which was across the causeway and around the river to South Woods where the rope swing was. Me being the big kid i am meant that i just couldn’t resist it this time and had to have a go, so i tentatively tugged on the rope and straps and it felt relatively sturdy so it was a case of going for it. So i climbed up the roots of the tree with the swing in tow and jumped on the stick and gripping the rope between my legs………yay it held my weight and was great fun until trying to get off which was not going to be so easy as it was not in easy reach of the ground with my legs, after a bit of cramp i managed to dismount the swing, although good fun i thought having another go was pushing my luck.
When we reached the Black Rabbit this time we stopped for a cheeky drink, i had a fruity seasonal beer called Bouncing Bounder made by Badgers and PK had a cup of tea…….really……lol, i suppose he is older than me.
Between the pub and Arundel meant going through the cow fields again and previously the cows were further into the field, but this time they were on the path and looking at us face on, PK took the option to give them a wide berth and myself, feeling brave decided to stick to the path, the cows (actually bulls when i had a closer look) were far too hot to be bothered with me, in fact one even let me stroke his nose and that is really brave for me.
In Arundel after a quick walk around we decided to eat in the Red Lion opposite the Market Square, PK had the usual pie and i opted for the asparagus tart with a pint of Sussex Gold beer, nice!
The last bit of the walk down to Ford was quite muggy and warm and even rain but didn’t take long at all. Another great hike completed even though i’m still struggling with hay fever. Bring on the next one…………