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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 8th January 2011
Wartling - Herstmonceux - Rickney - Horse-eye Level - Newbridge - Herstmonceux - Wartling
10 miles

Two friends joined us today, and as they had a car we decided on a place that has been inaccessible to us of late - Pevensey Levels. We were taking a bit of a chance really as this area is notoriously difficult to navigate, due partly to the lack of adequate path signage but also because of the network of water channels (known as sewers) that criss-cross the levels and which can suddenly bar the way ahead. This reclaimed marshland is also prone to flooding of course and whole sections can overnight become no-go areas. In low visibility the place is impossible to navigate and the farmer told us even he can't find his way in the fog - and he's lived there all his life! To make matters worse last night there was a huge storm that hit the whole of the south coast. Sussex had a lot of rainfall and severe gales, but the Met Office, who had predicted the whole event meticulously, also assured us that Saturday would be a calm, clear day after a bit of morning rain.
So, taking the chance that we would be turned back by nature, we set off as planned to go and see what nature had in store for us.
Despite some detours around flooded fields, and some precarious, improvised manoeuvres over deluged hot-spots, we confidently punched our way through all of the obstacles and squelched our way through some of the best mud we've walked on for ages. Not the sticky clay of ploughed fields that has you walking like you're wearing platform boots, but peaty, oozy stuff that coats everything it touches but slips off the boot easily. Hard-going to be sure, but great fun for two happy mud-lovers like ourselves.
Lots of bird watching to keep us all busy of course, with one of the first birds we saw being a ringtail Hen Harrier using the cover of the reed beds to throw off some corvid mobbers.

The large observatory at the Science Centre is in view for most of the day, which helps greatly with navigation.

Herstmonceux church is having its steeple recladded with wooden tiles, a lot of which had come down again during the night.

This is when you need a pair of long gaiters, as it was over a foot deep here.

How to keep your feet dry #1.

On Down Level, near Rickney, looking towards Herstmonceux. Normally it doesn't look like a lake though!

The Met office were right again, the sun did come out!


The hedgerows were full of lichen, evidence of the good, clean air hereabouts that we were getting the benefit of.

The small bridges crossing the sewers are invisible from only a short distance away,
making navigation of the marshes a bit more ... er... exciting.

Wide-open spaces interspersed with quiet, secret spots, make this area very special, for people and birds.

The last hour of our walk was after a beautiful sunset ...

... and as we passed through the Science Centre one of the observatories was hard at it,
while all around, Tawny owls were starting to get up and at it too. (toowit tawoo)