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Saturday 19th January 2008
Amberley - The Burgh - North Stoke - Amberley
6.5 miles

Once again there was terrible weather during the night, but this morning the rain had stopped. So, like the fools we are we just went for it and hoped for the best.
From the train the scale of the flooding in the area became dramatically obvious. While we chugged our way through Amberley Brooks it felt more as if we were on a boat out at sea. We had planned to come off the Downs later in the day and cross the Arun floodplain so that we could walk back to Amberley via the river, but the prospects of actually being able to do that without scuba gear looked very grim.
Anyway, we climbed up onto Amberley Mount and headed south directly to the Burgh conservation area, where dog walkers (again) chose to let their dogs scare off all of the wildlife rather than put their little darlings on leads. So we rapidly moved further south, away from these people to a wooded cutting through the hills that has an impressive set of very steep steps built into it. From here we had a perfect (undisturbed) view of this spot, which acts as a funnel for all of the birds moving through the area. In the space of 15 minutes we saw; 3 Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, a very pale coloured Buzzard and 2 (possibly 3) Hen Harriers. One of the harriers even came and hovered above us for a while, giving us a great view.
Eventually we tore ourselves away from Raptor Gorge and tried to make our way to the tiny village of South Stoke on the west bank of the river. However, we were stopped just short of it because the footpath was under three feet of water. We turned back and fought our way through water and brambles to North Stoke instead, where we visited the small church. From here we were forced by more flooding to take the road back to Amberley instead of the footpath, and then we were forced to sit in the pub and drink cider in front of an open fire! Our luck was definitely in though, as the only rain to fall during the day happened while we were in the pub. Are we lucky or what? No we're not, as our train was cancelled at the last moment and we had to wait another hour for the next one.
Our planned 10 mile hike was shortened by the elements to 6.5 miles, but due to the slippery, squidgy terrain it was more than enough thanks very much and we both fell asleep on the train home.

A small, unused, stable area just above Amberley Working Museum, where we always stop for a small break.

Gill striding up to the Burgh in new trousers!

The Steps of Insanity!

The view of "Raptor Gorge".

This way for bog snorkling. Shortly after this stage we were turned back by even deeper water.

Ah! That's better.