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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 2nd May 2009
Amberley - Arundel - Clapham - Sullington Hill - Amberley
20 miles

The length of the sun's transit (Lat 51o, Long 0o, for here in Sussex) is now approaching 13 hours; enough time to get a long walk completed in daylight. Therefore today we planned a 20 miler in the hot Spring sunshine, the longest walk we've done in ages. This entailed getting Gill up and moving at 5:00, never an easy task but (incredibly) by 9:00 we were leaving our parking spot outside Amberley Station and heading off down the north bank of the river Arun towards Arundel.
Straight away we were surrounded by birds, with Swallows feeding all around us, a single Cuckoo calling (Gill's first this year), Kestrels hovering and a pair of Stonechats keeping just ahead. Rounding a corner in the river we came to a small reedbed where a Reed Warbler was performing his crazy, robot-like song.
Today's walk was roughly square in shape, so we gave ourselves three hours to do each quarter section, which would have us back at the bike by 21:00 and nightfall. By 11:30 we were in Arundel and we found that walking into the town from the north through Arundel Park gives the best views of the cathedral and the castle. This time we visited the parish church of St Nicholas, just across the road from the cathedral, which we never even knew was there!
The next 5 mile section started along the river but soon set off through Wepham Wood, where bluebells and butterflies held court. We heard the melancholy song of a single bullfinch but never got to see the bird itself and saw our first Treecreeper of the year. Our meandering route took us through farms and through the picturesque villages of Patching and Clapham, where our third section started. This section was only marred by the dangerous crossing of the A280 on a blind bend. We took our lives in our hands as we dashed madly across and would suggest that anyone following this route takes the small footpath up to Longfurlong Barn to cross instead. This section took us parallel to Harrow Hill and is beautiful downland that steadily climbs up to: Sullington Hill, the South Downs Way and the last section of the walk.
By now we had done 15 miles and to finish off we had five miles along the top of the Downs to walk. Across the downland turf of Springhead Estate, through the grazing sheep, to Rackham Hill with it's wonderful view. Then the long downhill through Downs farm back to Amberley Station. A perfect finish, through one of our favourite areas in Sussex. We must have made a good pace at some point as we arrived back at the bike at 19:40 and were able to ride home in the golden hour before dusk.

A pair of Stonechats saw us off on our wanderings. Here is the male in typical pose.

Ramsons (Allium ursinum) or Wild Garlic at the entrance to Arundel Park

A very obliging Comma butterfly

Looking down on Swanbourne Lake, just north of Arundel.
England's most famous of landscape painters, John Constable, painted the view of the castle across the lake.

St. Nicholas', Arundel

Arundel Castle from the river

Gadwall on the Arun

Brimstone butterfly on Bugle (Ajuga reptans)

The woods are still full of bluebells

They meant guns. There is a firing range in the woods.


St John the divine, Patching

St Mary the virgin, Clapham. The start of our third section.

Corn Bunting in a field of Rape

Chantry Hill viewed from Sullington Hill

Peacock butterfly

Cowslips and orchids on Amberley Mount  with Downs farm below.