List of walks in route order, with links
Date Walk Distance
Plan The plan for creating an 'Arun Valley Walk' -
18 September 2010 Pease Pottage to Christ's Hospital 19.4 km (12.1 miles)
16 October 2010 Christ's Hospital to New Bridge, then Billingshurst Station 23.4 + 2.8 km (14.6 + 1.8 miles)
30 October 2010 New Bridge to Houghton Bridge (Amberley Station) 20.7 km (12.9 miles)
06 November 2010 Houghton Bridge (Amberley Station) to Littlehampton East Pier, then Littlehampton Station 18.2 + 1.2 km (11.3 + 0.8 miles)
28 January 2011 Ifield to Horsham (survey for an alternative route avoiding Hammerpond Road) 18.7 km (11.7 miles)

The plan for creating an 'Arun Valley Walk'

I've walked a fair amount of the Arun Valley, particularly its lower reaches, and when I was completing the West Sussex Literary Trail, the thought struck me that there was perhaps the potential to devise an interesting Arun Valley Walk.

The source of the Arun is a series of small streams (gills) in St Leonard's Forest, to the east of Horsham. It starts by flowing roughly westward, around the south side of Horsham, and then turns south near Rudgwick. It then flows past Billingshurst, Pulborough, Amberley and Arudel, to enter the English Channel at Littlehampton.

From Malham to Amberley the route would follow the Wey-South Path (the Wey-South Path follows as much of the Wey & Arun Canal towpath as is publicly accessible, with diversions to avoid sections which are on private land).

From Amberley to Arundel there are several possibilities for the route, each with their own attractions. From Arundel to Littlehampton it's simply a matter of following the river - there is no real choice.

I estimate the distance would be about 80 km (50 miles).

I've long had an ambition to write a walking guidebook, and this might be an opportunity to have a go.

Update December 2010

I have completed the walk to survey an Arun Valley Walk, but I've not found the time to write it up as a log. What follows therefore is a rather bare outline description of the route I walked. If I do produce a guidebook on 'The Arun Valley Walk', I will need to re-walk the route to confirm the details.

If you feel tempted to try to follow my route (and it does make an interesting and worthwhile walk), bear in mind that the description is only intended to be sufficient to allow it to be plotted on OS 1:25 000 maps - it isn't designed to be used on the ground as a guide. You will need OS 1:25 000 maps 134 and 121.

The '+' distances in the table are the additional distances I walked from the end of a section of the walk to get to the nearest public transport. Pease Pottage, Christ's Hospital Station and Amberley Station are all on the route, so require no walk-in. On the 30 October, rather than walk-in, I took a taxi from Billingshurst Station to New Bridge (simply because I found a taxi waiting conveniently near the station).

The walk itself turned out to be 81.7 Km (51 miles) long - not far off my original estimate.

Update January 2011

In my description of the Pease Pottage to Christ's Hospital section of the walk (18 September 2010), I noted that I was reasonably happy with the route I chose, but I was thinking of revising it to avoid Hammerpond Road. My first thought was to continue on the High Weald Landscape Trail from Mick's Cross at TQ 217 303 as far as Dry Pond at TQ 201 307, just outside Horsham, and then take the footpath due south to reach Golding Lane at TQ 207 292.

On 28 January 2011 I took another walk through St Leonard's Forest with the intention of surveying this alternative, and a variation of it, taking the footpath from Mick's Cross at TQ 217 303 to Lily Beds at TQ 209 308 via Scragged Oak Hill (cutting off a corner of the High Weald Landscape Trail route). I decided this second option was the best choice for avoiding Hammerpond Road. It increases the length of this section of the walk by 1.6 km (1.0 mile)

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18 September 2010: Pease Pottage to Christ's Hospital

19.4 km (12.1 miles)

Pease Pottage
Pease Pottage village sign

I started at Pease Pottage, which I reached by taking a train to Crawley and then getting a bus. There is a village sign in Pease Pottage which makes a convenient starting marker for the walk.

From Pease Pottage I followed the lane south that parallels the A 23 (Old Brighton Road South), then took the bridleway heading west to Shelley Cottages. The bridleway crosses Newstead Gill on a plank bridge (one of the gills that feed the Arun) very close to its source, and here only a trickle.

View
View over St Leonard's Forest, near Newstead Farm

From Shelly Cottages I followed Grouse Road south-westwards, then took the bridleway southwards that crosses Newstead Gill and climbs up to the ridge between Newstead Gill and Hyde Gill, passing through Newstead Farm. This bridleway comes to a T-junction with High Weald Landscape Trail.

I followed the High Weald Landscape Trail westwards into the Lily Beds woods, crossing Grouse Road again. The name Lily Beds comes from the story of St Leonard the Dragon Slayer who lived in the forest and slew the last dragon in England. St Leonard was injured and Lilies of the Valley grow where his blood fell.

Dun Horse
The Dun Horse, Manning Heath

I left the High Weald Landscape Trail at Mick's Cross (a crossing of footpaths) and took a footpath and then a bridleway south-westwards to Hammerpond Road. I followed the road (which is busy) to Manning Heath Golf Club. I then turned down Golding Lane to Manning Heath. I walked through Manning Heath and turned down Pound Lane to reach the Dun Horse pub on the A 281. I stopped a the Dun Horse for a pint, and admired its stained glass windows.

Piglets
Piglets, Bull's Farm

From Manning Heath I followed footpaths to Whyting Farm, Bull's Farm, Amiesmill Farm and Chesworth Farm (owned by Horsham District Council and managed as a livestock farm). Here I picked up the Horsham Riverside Walk (a circular walk around Horsham) for a short way and walked into Horsham, making my way to St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church, Horsham

From St Mary's Church I turned south, taking a footpath across a sports ground and crossing the railway to meet the B 2237. At the Boar's Head pub I took the footpath westwards, which joins a bridleway to Parthings. It must have once been possible to continue on this bridleway to cross the A 24, but this is now blocked off. I therefore took the footpath heading south-east to Tower Hill (a lane). I walked a short way down Tower Hill then took the footpath at Grigg's Farm which allowed me to cross the A 24.

Having crossed the A 24 I followed the footpath to reach Christ's Hospital Station for the train home.

I'm reasonably happy with the route I chose, but Hammerpond Road is one to avoid, so I think I'll revise the route of this section of the walk, by continuing on the High Weald Landscape Trail as far as Dry Pond, just outside Horsham, and then taking the footpath due south to reach Golding Lane.

Waymark
High Weald Landscape Trail waymark

Toadflax

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16 October 2010: Christ's Hospital to New Bridge, then Billingshurst Station

23.4 + 2.8 km (14.6 + 1.8 miles)

I took the train to Christ's Hospital Station. I started this section of the route by following the footpaths that lead to the subway under the railway just north of the station. From the subway, there is a footpath heading roughly north, which at first follows a tributary of the Arun, and then the Arun itself. The footpath joins a bridleway at Mill Bridge (near Broadbridge Farm), which I followed into Broadbridge Heath, an estate of modern houses separated from Horsham by the A 24.

I then worked my way through Broadbridge Heath, following Shelly Drive, to eventually reach the footpath which leaves the A 281 (Guildford Road) heading north-west to Rapkyns Farm. The navigation is a little tricky around a converted mill (I think called Millmead), as a number of paths meet there (TQ 140 314).

From Rapkyns Farm I followed footpaths to Nowhurst Farm, crossing Cook's Lane, a bridleway. Again, a little care is needed with the navigation, as the route of the path is not always obvious.

Arun Valley
Arun Valley, west of Nowhurst Farm (taken from the West Sussex Literary Trail)

At Nowhurst Farm my route briefly joined the West Sussex Literary Trail, heading west along a bridleway, to cross the Arun on a farm bridge. It was here that I first had the idea of developing an Arun Valley Walk. Shortly after crossing the bridge, the West Sussex Literary Trail takes a footpath south to Slinfold. However, I continued on the bridleway heading west to Hill House (a rather desirable residence), which then turns south on a lane leading into Slinfold.

About 200 m down the lane I turned west again, along a footpath leading to the A 29, which here follows Stane Street (that is, Stone Street), the Roman road. I walked a short way north along Stane Street, then turned off along the bridleway to Dedisham. Formerly a National Autistic Society school, it is now Hillcrest Slinfold, a school for children with Ďchallenging behaviourí.

From Dedisham I took the footpath to Violets Farm, where the footpath has been sensibly diverted away from the front of the house (an attractive building), and does not follow the route marked on the OS map. From Violets Farm I continued on the footpath heading west to cross the Downs Link, where I stopped to eat my sandwiches. From the Downs Link I continued along a footpath heading westwards to reach a hamlet near Wanford Bridges, on Haven Road, the name of which is not clear from the OS map. Just beyond the hamlet I turned south along a footpath to reach the drive to Howick Farm. From the farm I headed north west on a footpath to a bend in the Arun. At the bend there is a bridge over the Arun, and crossing the bridge would lead you north to Exfold Farm. This is where the Arun decisively turns south, having up to now been generally heading westwards.

I too headed south, taking footpaths to Gibbons Mill and Bignor Farm. From Bignor Farm I took the footpath westwards to cross the Arun (now a sizable river) and then reach Malham, along a bridleway.

At Malham I picked up the Wey-South Path, which I was now to follow to its end near Amberley.

At first this section of the Wey South Path cannot follow the Wey and Arun Canal, but it soon joins the old towpath. I completed todayís walk by walking along the Wey South Path to just beyond New Bridge, then turning east on a footpath passing Guildenhurst Manor. From there I continued on footpaths to reach the A 29 on the outskirts of Billingshurst.

Having crossed the A 29, I pick the shortest route I could find to reach Billingshurst station, following roads through a housing estate (Berrall Way, Luxford Way), then Stane Street and Natts Lane and finally the footpath along the railway to reach the station for the train home - but first stopping for a pint in the Railway Inn. The Railway is rather basic, but fine for a quick pint at the end of a walk, and it sells Harveys.

My camera was not working, so I have no photographs from this walk. The one above was taken whilst I was walking the West Sussex Literary Trail.

Waymark
West Sussex Literary Trail waymark

Smooth Sow-Thistle

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30 October 2010: New Bridge to Houghton Bridge (Amberley Station)

20.7 km (12.9 miles)

Lording's Lock
Lording's Lock (with waterwheel to raise water from river into canal on left)

I took the train to Billingshurst. From the station I took a taxi to New Bridge, the nearest convenient drop-off point to resume the walk, simply because there was a taxi waiting near the station.

The route of this section of my walk simply followed the route of the Wey-South Path to its southern end, where it meets the South Downs Way above Amberley village. The Wey-South Path is very good long distance footpath, and this section is particularly attractive.

Pumping station
Pumping station, Hardham

I stopped to eat my sandwiches and have a pint in garden of the White Hart at Stopham Bridge - it was just about warm enough to sit outside.

Just after crossing the railway and the A 29 I paused to look at the southern entrance to Hardham Tunnel, the only tunnel on the Arun Navigation.

Hardham Tunnel
Hardham Tunnel, south portal

The route crosses Amberley Wild Brooks. The Sussex Wildlife Trust describes the Wild Brooks as an extensive flat area of grassland, bounded on the horizon by hills and woods. The grassland itself is dissected by numerous ditches, mostly dug in the 1800s to assist drainage, but now supporting a fantastic array of wetland plants and insects. Here and there rushes add a darker tone to the fields revealing damper conditions; elsewhere dark green patches of willow and alder have formed miniature wet woodlands. The Wey-South Path is the only public footpath across the Wild Brooks. It is usually very wet underfoot, and the section of the path approaching Amberley churned up into a chalky slurry by heavy farm traffic.

Greatham Bridge
Greatham Bridge, over the Arun

In summer, the Amberley Village Tea Room is delightful, and serves a fine cream tea. Amberley village itself is an impossibly perfect picture-book village of thatched cottages.

From the end of the Wey-South Path I followed the South Downs Way for a short distance westwards down the lane (High Titten) to reach the B 1239. There is then a footpath parallel to the road, behind a fence, that leads to Houghton Bridge and Amberley Station. As usual, I stopped for a pint in the Bridge Inn, just beyond the station.

View
View south-east over Amberley Wild Brooks to South Downs
Waymark
Wey-South Path waymark

Dog Rose (hips)

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06 November 2010: Houghton Bridge (Amberley Station) to Littlehampton East Pier, then Littlehampton Station

18.2 + 1.2 km (11.3 + 0.8 miles)

View
View over North Stoke and the downs beyond from Arundel Park

Between Amberley Station and Arundel there are several attractive route options. After much deliberation I chose to follow the east bank of the Arun, and then cut across the loop in the river, taking the path through North Stoke to reach South Stoke. From South Stoke I then followed the west bank of the river upstream for about a kilometre to reach the entrance to Arundel Park, part of the estate of the Duke of Norfolk. The alternative route to reach this point, keeping to the west bank of the Arun from Amberley, is less attractive and much less interesting.

Arundel Park
Arundel Park, looking north

The walk to Arundel across Arundel Park follows the Monarch's Way. It is one of my favourite walks, with superb views back over the Arun valley, the South Downs to the east of the river, and the weald.

Arundel is a pleasant town, with a choice of pubs and cafes. However, I only stopped briefly, to eat my sandwiches in the garden of the Maison Dieu, overlooking the river.

Arundel
Looking back towards Arundel

You canít actually follow the banks of the Arun through Arundel, so I followed Tarrant Street (a very pleasant street) to pick up the footpath that then follows the west bank of the Arun all the way to the outskirts of Littlehampton. At Ford I stopped for a pint in the Ship and Anchor, as Iíd never been there and was curious to try it. The pub was OK, but nothing special.

River Arun
River Arun, near Ford Prison, looking north

The footpath along the Arun, once it passes under the A 259 on the outskirts of Littlehampton, dodges and weaves through boat yards, marinas and caravan parks to reach a modern steel footbridge over the Arun. The bridge is an interesting design, being a drawbridge that rolls back into a concrete pit to allow large boats through. Just before the bridge Iíd got caught in a vicious squall and was glad to wait for the rain to pass in the shelter provided for users of the bridge whilst itís drawn back.

At the bridge I had the choice of continuing on the west bank of the Arun to West Pier, but decided on balance that the east bank, through the town itself, would be more interesting. From the footbridge I followed River Road until I found an alley leading to the riverfront itself. The river is now lined by new apartment blocks. From there I followed the river to its mouth at East Pier.

Having look at the sea, I then wandered back through Littlehampton to find the station and the train home.

The mouth of the Arun
The mouth of the Arun from East Pier, Littlehampton
Waymark (Footpath)
Monarch's Way waymark

White Dead-Nettle

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28 January 2011: Ifield to Horsham (survey for an alternative route avoiding Hammerpond Road)

18.7 km (11.71 miles)

Ifield Mill
Ifield Mill

In my description of the Pease Pottage to Christ's Hospital section of my Arun Valley Walk, (18 September 2010), I noted that I was reasonably happy with the route I chose, but I was thinking of revising it to avoid Hammerpond Road.

Colgate church
St Saviour's church, Colgate

I'd take the day off work, and decided to use it to survey alternative routes that avoided Hammerpond Road. My first thought was to re-walk Pease Pottage to Christ's Hospital (first walked on 18 September 2010), with diversions to pick up possible alternative routes. However, I eventually decided that it would be more interesting to explore a bit more of St Leonard's Forest whilst I was checking the alternative routes.

Trig point
Trig point, Beacon Hill (TQ 227 330)

I therefore got the train to Ifield, a suburb of Crawley. From the station I followed some suburban roads just to the north of the railway, to reach Ifield Mill. Crawley Borough Council's web site reports that Ifield Mill was rebuilt in the early 19th Century and stopped being used as a corn mill in the late 1920s. The mill was bought and then restored by Crawley Borough Council in 1974. It's open occasionally, but not on the day I was there.

Water tower
Water tower, Beacon Hill

At Ifield Mill I started to see waymarks for the Crawley Greenway. A search of the web suggests that Crawley Borough Council have rather lost interest in this path. However, I followed it alongside the mill pond and under the railway, and then along Spruce Hill Brook, which borders a landfill site that seems to be no longer active.

The path lead me to the A 264, which I crossed to follow a bridleway through Holmbush Forest (passing a rather derelict looking area fenced off for paintball) to reach Forest Road on the outskirts of Colgate, a small village.

St Leonard's Forest
In St Leonard's Forest (Forestry Commission)

Colgate has a Victorian church, St Saviour's, built in brick. In the church I stopped to talk to one of the parishioners who had called in to clean and do minor repairs. As many churches, St Saviour's has a declining and aging congregation and is short of funds to maintain the building.

Path
Path approaching Roosthole Pond

From the church I took a back route by way of a footpath, avoiding the main road, to reach the Dragon Pub at the other end of the village. It didn't open until noon, so I had to abandon the idea of an early pint. From the pub I headed north-west along Tower Road. Just off the road is a trig point (at TQ 227 330), marking the summit of Beacon Hill. Someone had recently cleared the surrounding rhododendron scrub, which made finding it easier than I suspect it might have been a few weeks ago. On top of the trig point was a plastic box labelled 'Official Geocache'. As I wasn't geocaching, I left it unopened.

Golding's Stream
Golding's Stream

Just beyond the trig point is a concrete water tower, and a little further down the road I turned south-west along a bridleway. This crossed Forest Road about half a kilometre west of the Dragon Inn and took me into what the Forestry Commission calls St Leonard's Forest. The Forestry Commission were doing some thinning, rhododendron scrub clearance and a little clear felling, so parts of the forest, usually open access, had been closed off, but public rights of way were unaffected.

Bridleway
Bridleway to Mick's Cross

The bridleway eventually joins the High Weald Landscape Trail (at TQ 216 311). Here I turned west along the Trail, heading towards Horsham. I followed the Trail as far as Dry Pond, and then turned south along a track to Sunoak Farm (not named on the OS map). The track occupies a wide strip of land, and towards the farm it is used as a dumping ground for old farm machinery and other rural junk.

The farm is on Hammerpond Road, and I crossed the road to take an attractive footpath to Golding Lane, where it crosses Golding's Stream. On the way, the path crosses the dam forming Roosthole Pond.

Ford
Ford over Sheepwash Gill (looking at it upstream)

I then followed Golding Lane north-east to join Hammerpond Road (the road I'm trying to avoid), reversing my walk on 18 September 2010. I followed Hammerpond Road past Mannings Heath Golf Club until I reached the bridleway to Mick's Cross. Several path and bridleways converge around Mick's Cross, including the High Weald Landscape Trail. I took the path going roughly northwest down the side of Scragged Oak Hill to reach the ford over Sheepwash Gill. Rather than wade the ford, I walked a few yards up the Gill to where it was narrow enough to step across.

Horsham Station
Horsham Station (start of the High Weald Landscape Trail)

On the west bank of the ford the right of way turns northwards, to join the High Weald Landscape Trail (at TQ 209 308). However, the finger post at the ford points south for some reason. I then simply followed the High Weald Landscape Trail back to Horsham.

My route had taken me from Ifield to Horsham in a roughly straight line, but had included a complete loop of about 1.5 km diameter to explore my options for an Arun Valley Walk that avoided Hammer Pond Road - see my January 2011 update in the 'Plan' section of this page.

The High Weald Landscape Trail starts at Horsham Station and has the oddity of being the only long distance path that I know which starts on the paid side of station ticket barriers.

A good walk in good weather - bright, some clouds but mainly sunshine, and almost warm.

Waymark
Crawley Greenway waymark

Tree roots

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