Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Arun Valley Walks Amberley - Arundel

Arun Rainbow

It’s been a tough time again for walking.  An insanely busy autumn combined with bad weather on the days I have been able to go out meant a five week gap between expeditions, far longer than I normally like.  However, we did manage to find a window of opportunity for a short family walk and decided to do a mirror image of the walk that we did along the Arun Valley during the summer but in reverse and on the other side of the valley.

North Stoke Lane

We caught the train from Arundel to Amberley and the sunny day that we had started with soon turned overcast and rainy looking as showers came in from the west.  As we got off the train it was clear that one of the showers had only just tracked through as the ground was very wet everywhere.  

North Stoke Cottages
The sky was still grey as we wandered along the main road trying to avoid the traffic.  The road past the station is no a pleasant one to walk along but almost unavoidable if using the station as a staging point.  We opted not to use the riverbank walk this time, on account of the mud everywhere, but headed along the lane towards North Stoke village instead.

Arun Valley From North Stoke

The lane proved to be an easy if not very interesting route.  As we wandered along a couple of cars passed us and from the looks on the drivers’ faces we knew they would be back shortly after as they looked lost and didn’t realise they were heading along a dead end road.  Sure enough they did come back a few minutes later, when it wasn’t easy to get out of the way!  Despite the easy conditions of the road we were relieved to lose the tarmac and head out into the countryside just shy of North Stoke village.

Frisky Sheep
We headed up a modest slope, just about the only climb of the day, and at the top we had gained enough height to get a great view of the valley before us.  Annoyingly the black clouds were really building now and although we were in a window of sunshine, the signs were ominous.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes later as we headed along the valley a little longer the heavens opened and we faced quite a downpour.  We tried our best to hide under the trees, but we did end up getting pretty wet for our troubles.

Burpham Church
The woods were looking quite autumnal, with plenty of fungi coming through and the leaves mostly burned off.  The ox-bow lakes that the trees were growing in had a fair amount of water in them, signalling the amount of water that has fallen from the sky this year!  Usually I have only seen them empty when coming along here.

The George and Dragon
Our route continued along the flood plain which was as squelchy as you might imagine.  The rain finally relented and we did manage to see the inevitable rainbow, this time one that went completely across the sky and which had a hint of a double about it, although the second was very faint.  We also passed a field of very frisky sheep at this point, who all came running towards us (perhaps thinking they might be fed by us?).  Luckily they decided that we weren’t as interesting as we looked and moved off in another direction as we got closer.

Burpham View
At Burpham we headed up off the floodplain to the higher ground on which the village stood.  Despite its very modest size, the church looked well used and the pub also looked like it was in decent health.  We stopped to have a look around the churchyard for a short time and I couldn’t help noticing the clock, which appeared to be a recent installation.  I wasn’t sure if it had always had a clock or whether it was completely new?  Sadly the layers of mud on our feet were not conducive to an inside visit – maybe we’ll have to come again another time?

Plane Trees

We left the village via the cricket field and passed by a well-appointed looking cricket pavilion.  The girls were most disappointed that the playground equipment was so wet that they couldn't realistically play on it.  I was ordered to take a picture of it so they could remember for next time.  Our path led down a set of steps called Jacobs Ladder - so many flights of steps are called this.  Given the muddiness of this set I couldn't imagine them leading to heaven, like the biblical reference suggests!  Actually we were lucky to get to the bottom staying on our feet.  At the bottom we made our way along the riverbank for a short way through more mud.  Alongside us a wall of reeds waved in the breeze while the views across the valley were superb.

Last Leaves
By now the girls were getting a little tired so we took the opportunity to cut off a corner of the river and headed across the fields and through avenues of plane trees to the small hamlet of Warningcamp.  Through the woods the colours of autumn were well under way and everything smelled earthy and damp.  As I took pleasure in my surroundings the children took a lot of pleasure in telling each other stories, with our surroundings clearly firing their little imaginations.

Arun Valley Train

At Warningcamp we crossed the railway on the level, which was a new experience for the girls.  They were understandably nervous about it and we crossed very quickly.  On the other side there was an old lady who initially passed the time of day with us, but soon joined us for a lengthier chat.  I contented myself with enjoying the views across to Arundel Castle and listening to the rather surreal shouts coming from Arundel FC that was out of sight.  I always think that non-league football games have a strange atmosphere about them when you can't see the action.

Arundel Castle

I soon became aware of a very large dark cloud up ahead and quickened my pace as we got closer to Arundel.  I really wanted to get some good sunlit shots of the castle and I was partly successful.  However as I rounded the corner to get the full on view of the castle so beloved of all postcards I lost the sun.  Talk about sod's law!

Stoke Hill
We parted company with our old lady at the edge of Arundel and learned that she did the ver same walk every day!  It was a lovely walk that is for sure and a pleasurable way of spending the afternoon.  I think next time I would like to come when there is a lot less mud!



  1. Hi Paul

    I have never known such wet conditions for walking than we have had this 'summer'.

    I have spent the last 10 years walking one or two National Trails or long distance footpaths every year. Up to 3 years ago we might have had one day's rain or just a short shower per week.

    The climates definitely changing and my annual distances of around 1,200 miles will have been cut to around 700 this year.

    It's still great to get out walking with the family though regardless of the weather.



  2. Thanks Bill,
    Went out again yesterday and conditions were even worse. I have had to modify my walks considerably to avoid the worst of conditions. Not easy in a County that has many areas of clay!

    I have done considerably less mileage myself this year & I'm feeling it! Hoping for some drier conditions towards the end of the winter so I can a properly good season in next year.