RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Amberley Mount

Winter glooms can be blown away by this 7 mile (11.4kms) march across the heights of the South Downs followed by a peaceful wander along the river banks.

When I went this way it was still early autumn and I enjoyed the sight of one or two wheatears and stonechats on migration feeding along the track ways while flocks of house martins fed along the Arun. These are also good places to see wintering yellowhammers and red kites, and peregrine falcons and hen harriers are sometimes to be seen hunting as well.

This walk is served by the main London railwayline station of Amberley. You can also park your car roadside, up the byroad called High Titten, which runs in a loop off the B2159 south from Amberley village.

Take the South Downs Way uphill onto Amberley mount. The views are not only breath-taking from your exertions but sense of beauty too. Look west for Steep in Hampshire, northwest for Blackdown in Surrey and north for the North Downs near Guildford. Closer by, beneath you in the valley of the Arun, is the flood plain of Amberley Wildbrooks.

As soon as we get winter rains, these will form a bright mirror to the skies and gleam silver and blue. Wild swans and geese congregate there, together with a thousand wigeon ducks.

After a mile from your car, and approaching Rackham Hill and having just crossed an earthwork, by a copse, turn right, southeast, along a bridleway.

This soon joins up with a byway, and then comes to a 4-cross-ways. Take the first sharp right running southwest along the ridge, downhill to what is called The Burgh. Two tracks now lead right, both going to a place called Canada at the end of a by-road from North Stoke. Several places in Sussex are called Canada and it just meant way out yonder to our recent ancestors though in fact, Canadian soldiers did train here for war activities in France.

Follow this by-road to the hamlet where there is a small Norman church with a beautiful east window showing the Coronation of the Virgin. You cross over the railway line in its brief tunnel as you go, and after the church and the 1819 Manor Farm house, follow the line to the left of its high embankment, down the minor road, back to the railway station.

Now, instead of following the main road back to your car, you can make the diversion over Houghton Bridge, onto the banks of the Arun. Footpaths follow either river bank, the left one allowing you to cross over at a footbridge.

Leave the river banks to follow the SDW over meadows to the main road, crossing by turning right then left on a dog-leg, and your car will suddenly appear again at Highdown Farm complete with drinks and cakes if you haven’t already enjoyed these at the riverside café. I wonder if they do a cream tea.