RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Arun Banks

This is one of the best riverbank walks in Britain so no excuse for reminding you of its 3kms (1.8 miles) at this time of year when you will see spectacular flights of wildfowl out of the Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre.

Thursday, 6th January 2011, 11:13 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:18 pm

The town car park at the road bridge TQ020071 costs about £1.50 though free parking on Swanbourne Road under double lime avenue.

Follow the inner bank of Arun in a circle. This is the sixth fastest tidal river in Britain with its outflow on a dropping tide so don’t fall in or you will be in Littlehampton before the train.

Black-headed gulls (red bills and legs) fight for bread with the occasional common gull (greenish yellow legs and bills).

I have seen this river with ice floes grinding and rearing on their way to the sea, and again tranquil and calm with golden kingcups and reed warblers chattering their strange rambling songs as they clutched the riverside reeds.

Walking on, you have that gaunt, grey yet romantic castle balanced by the pinnacles of the Catholic cathedral, happily an indulgence before Lutyens’ cheesecakes and the Barhaus politically-correct minimalism.

The reeds here look tall, but in Iraq the same species grows tall enough to make boat masts around Basra.

Hawthorn hedges always provide masses of red berries for migrating flocks of fieldfares.

A riverside plant of the seaside which grows so far inland is seabeet, once a culinary choice and even exported to Covent Garden a century ago.

If you make this walk in spring or again autumn you might well see a common sandpiper flitting low along the banks of shining mud at low tide.

The ox-bow soon gives us the view north-west of Offham Hanger above the wildfowl collection. Yew, ash, beech and box provide happy hunting grounds for peregrines, hobby and sparrowhawk.

You should now be able to see flights of swans, ducks, and geese in spectacular display just as founder Sir Peter Scott planned for your enjoyment 40 years ago. His paintings of these sky flights are almost better than the real thing.

Left on yellow arrow following Swanbourne stream through the thickets of willows hiding moorhens and wrens, mallard and who knows: maybe an otter.

Left at ornate Victorian bridge noting fine displays of hart’s tongue ferns along clean ditch.

Usually there are hordes of coots, mallard, tufted ducks and pochard on Swanbourne lake.

Return to Morris looking like a swan on her nest amid those Eurobox grey hansas of pc pedigree.