RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Pagham Harbour

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Pagham Harbour LNR has changed hands and now is in the care of the RSPB.

This walk of 4.6 miles (7.7kms) refocuses on this famous nature reserve on the road to Selsey from Chichester. Free car parking is at Sidlesham information centre.

The centre is open 10am- 4pm every day except Christmas and Boxing Day and the display is being overhauled in line with the new nature reserve at Medmerry, a mile to the southwest at Bracklesham Bay.

Walk south to the bird hide overlooking Ferry Pool over the road, a famous lagoon where rare wetland birds often turn up.

Normally you will see lapwing, teal, wigeon, shelduck, little egret and black-headed gulls among others.

At the pipe sluice, sharp left to follow the embanked route of the old Selsey tramway.

This path overlooks Pagham Harbour all the way northeast to Sidlesham.

There are several garden seats along the route where you can enjoy the view over the tidal saltings. Curlews, redshanks, mallard and teal are often feeding among the spartina grass which grows on the mudflats.

This sea grass was brought into this country from South America a century ago on the hulls of ocean ships.

Scrubby woodland to left makes a nice windbreak. This is growing over an old landfill site of 40 years ago. Wild cherry, rowan, hawthorn, elder, bramble, willow, field maple and wild plum grow here. Teasels and burdocks attract flocks of goldfinches.

Nearing the village, note the meadows of blue-grey sea couch grass at tide top in the saltings to the right.

Turn right along road. At house called Think, it is possible at low tide to follow footpath along saltings to the right. This is very squishy! Otherwise left past Crab and Lobster, up street for 250 yards and turn right between gardens to try that squishy path again. I always do so because you get a superb view of birdlife as they feed on the saltings.

In which case, turn left eventually along the permissive path, north, to the meadows.

Turn right after 300 yards with some good views of wigeon and black-tailed godwits in Bremer Rife. Rejoin the sea wall with more views over harbour and feeding curlew and redshank.

Left along top of wall, soon leaving the seawall left into woodland path north. This brings you over stiles into an old meadow of heath bent grass with gorse bushes.

Halfway up this meadow is a path doubling back left to Halsey’s Farm.

I go further on to the hedge before turning left, then left at three crossway, northwest, over footbridge, past a fallen oak, and on into the meadows westward to a ruined barn near a grove of oaks.

Follow the concrete track for 182 paces then left across the fields on the cycle path southward.

This takes you past another ruined barn, to the road, Rookery Lane.

Cross that road into meadows, turn left at yellow arrow bya small wood and this brings you back to the lovely open view over the harbour in Sidlesham village. I always finish my Thermos there on that seat overlooking the saltings. What a treat.