RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Roundabout Canada, River Arun
This is circular walk of 3.7 miles (6 kms) around the heights and lows of the River Arun, a mile SE of Amberley railway station and the Chalkpits Museum.
You can leave your car along the side of the minor road (called Stoke Road) which runs from the B2139 to North Stoke. You can just about park, as well, at the end of the minor road that continues up to a lonely place called Canada, where Canadian troops trained in WW2.
Both positions are marked on my map but today I am starting from the side of the Stoke Road. Walking south with the willows on the river side and the ash and sycamores on the chalk slope side you have a good old chorus of moorhens, song thrushes, robins, great tits, marsh tits, and rooks, and all the others in the marsh and woodland choir tuning up for spring. You might even get the chak-chek-chak of the peregrine falcon which lives around here in the quarries and hunts the heights we are travelling to today.
The little church at North Stoke is Norman in parts, and the old farmhouse rebuilt in 1819 has square flints and white brick facings. Our path follows the minor road to the left, which now climbs up Camp Hill Downs to The Burgh and which terminates there at Canada Barn. We pass over the railway tunnel and ascend hopefully to the song of skylarks if the weather is good and the time of the year is right.
They will sing from April to July at their best. The paths diverge in all directions at the top. There are lovely views to the silver sea.
These uplands are the subject of a most commendable effort by the Norfolk Estate to bring back downland birds such as grey partridge, yellow hammer and corn bunting. Special agricultural flower borders are sown to attract them. Wheatears and even whinchats may soon be passing through here on their way north, and they will perch on the wire fences.
This walk turns right at every junction when, near Peppering High Barn, a footpath goes sharp right and then down 200 steps back to the Arun meadows. At the bottom, the path splits into two bridleways.
Take the right, NW along the edge of the ash and elder wood and through the meadows. Reeds in drainage ditches may soon have reed warblers or nesting mallard. Soon you arrive back at Canada road, and the railway tunnel.
I hope to bring my old Alvis to the Chalkpits Museum for a meet-up with other old crocks in a month’s time, when I shall also enjoy seeing the rookery there in full chorus and hearing the roars of the Riley engines..