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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 20th November 2010
Barnham - Lidsey - Colworth - Merston - Oving - Aldingbourne - Westergate - Eastergate - Barnham
11.5 miles

This circular walk just east of Chichester is probably best left 'till the summer, as what looks on the map like undisturbed countryside is in fact an intensive food production area and is made mostly of very thick, sticky, wet mud. Much of the mud between the hamlets of Lidsey and Merston is covered in glasshouses and polytunnels growing: strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and who knows what else and is not particularly pleasant to the eye, especially on such a gloomy day as today. It is where a lot of our food comes from though, and is just as important as any other part of Sussex, so we were quite happy to take a look around. We took a small detour to investigate one of the old barns that's been left standing in the midst of all this nothingness and we were very glad we did, as the soil floor was carpeted with the scattered skeletons of innumerable small mammals and the resulting owl pellets too.
A lot of the footpath from Barnham to Merston runs along what used to be the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal which is now partly dry, partly flooded - but mostly beautifully overgrown. It now acts as an effective conduit for all of the wildlife and what we saw more than made up for all of the mud. We were surrounded by farmland birds and we unwittingly herded hares and deer along in front of us.
The area is dotted with a ridiculous number of churches and chapels, although today we only found those at Oving and Aldingbourne open.

We reach Hollinsworth Bridge on the old canal and quite frankly, it's seen better days.

Part of Sussex's small oil industry.

This collapsed archway (fallen arch?) is another relic of the canal days.

Poly-tunnels and mud. Lots of mud. Miles of the stuff!

The graveyard of many generations of owl food.

Alas, poor Squeaky.

The small chapel at Merston.

Gribble micro-brewery in Oving.

Oving Church

This medieval chair carved out of the trunk of a tree has an image of a pelican feeding young with blood that it has drawn from it's own breast.
The belief that pelicans really did this lead to its adoption as a Christian sign for self-sacrifice and which also tenuously referred to the body of Christ.

The outer walls of Aldingbourne church are covered in sharp Sussex flints and as such they don't suffer too much from vandalism and graffiti...
or erosion, or fire or nuclear strike! They are probably Armageddon proof.

Gill can't resist a good bit of tapestry and this altar cloth at Aldingbourne church was very good!

By the time we got to Westergate we'd lost the light, but the train was there waiting for us at Barnham Station. Perfect timing!