Walk 24: Pulborough to Amberley

Caroline Nicholls drove me to the start of this section which she’d walked with ‘Charlie’s Angels’ on one of our Walk The Hospice Trail days.  It was a lovely bright sunny morning as I set off and  having climbed a few paces from the lane onto a wheatfield, I met with the most fabulous panoramic view taking in the South Downs and the High Weald as far as the eye could see.  This scenery surrounded me for pretty much all of this walk.  On the other side of the wheatfield, slightly elevated, was a concrete pill box built in 1940 as part of the line of defence running from the coast, following the course of the River Arun.   The walk continued through a pretty woodland and emerged again into a big sky with magnificent views.  On crossing the A283 I found myself on the bank of the River Arun, on the other bank cattle and a large flock of Canada Geese were grazing.  It was just dreamy walking along this path.  I crossed a bridge over The Arun and after a short distance, crossed another bridge but this time over The River Rother (the east end girl in me calls it the River Rovver)  the two rivers meet a few hundred yards to the east between the two bridges. On reaching Greatham Bridge, which is a scheduled Historic Monument, I sat and munched a protein bar whilst admiring it and thinking about the comings and goings it must have witnessed since it was built in the late 13th century.   It is a very special feature of this lovely part of the Arun Valley. There were some beautiful houses and farm buildings throughout the walk and lots of camera friendly cattle and sheep. The walk took me across the Amberley Wildbrooks Nature Reserve, an extensive flat area of grassland, criss-crossed by ditches, supporting a fantastic array of wetland plants and insects as well as wildfowl such as teal, lapwings and snipe.  As I looked up from my guide notes I was surprised to see to my left a herd of about twenty deer only 50 yards away, just looking at me.  We observed each other for quite some time before they all turned and sprang away.  I watched as they lined up to cross a ditch, one by one, splashing as they crossed. Every now and then I heard a train chattering in the distance. Oddly, the sound wasn’t unpleasant, it didn’t jarr and it felt as though it had a place in these peaceful surroundings.  Apart from the wildlife, I didn’t see another soul across the whole of this reserve and felt so privileged to have it all to myself. On reaching Amberley Village I was bowled over by how beautiful it was – I’d never been to Amberley Village before.  The pretty thatched cottages along its lanes were just dreamy – I think I photographed every house in the village.  The Amberley Village Tea Room was open for business with people eating on tables outside in the sunshine.   Once through the village I had a steep walk up the scarp slope of the South Downs before reaching Amberley Station where  I was met by Margaret Bamford who ferried me back to Caroline & David Nicholl’s house where we had a delightful lunch. This was a superb walk – the paths throughout were relatively clear and dry though I’d imagine after a lot of rain they might be very muddy, particularly across the reserve. This section of the Trail was generously sponsored in 2016 by Lord and Lady Fellowes who have enjoyed walking these paths when staying nearby. Julian and Emma are staunch supporters of FSH, Julian performed at one of our early Pashley Manor Concerts and more recently, alongside Hugh Bonneville, at a dinner at Arundel Castle.