Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre
Despite the chilly, damp weather at the end of September we had a really good visit to the WWT centre at Arundel. Being a keen birdwatcher it is my sort of place but there is plenty to appeal to those less interested in our avian wildlife.
There are several hides situated at strategic points overlooking the pools and scrapes intended for the wildfowl and wading birds. Volunteer guides explain to visitors the stories about the different birds to be seen at the centre. They also loan the use of telescopes set up for visitors benefit. Had it not been for the guide I'm sure I'd not have seen the Peregrine falcon perched high up on the escarpment behind the centre. Using his telescope we were able to get good views of it.
One hide is purpose built for small migratory birds called Sand Martins. These visitors from Africa make nests in sandy cliffs and banks and so to replicate these conditions similar sites have been constructed with the added bonus that the human visitors can peer through small windows and take a look into the nesting world of these delightful birds.
In addition to the wild areas at the centre there are extensive ponds and some enclosures where breeding collections of wildfowl are kept. The WWT is well known for its conservation efforts in trying to establish breeding colonies of wildfowl. Visitors can wander around and enjoy a wide variety of amazingly beautiful birds that all appear to be in excellent condition. There are signs that provide details of each species to inform the visiting public.
The café is large, inexpensive and serves a wide range of food. It can be enjoyed outside but most people were inside looking out through the enormous plate glass windows onto the duck pond.
For me the highlight of the visit was the ride on the electric powered boat which quietly pottered through the waterways in the reed beds with a very helpful and informative guide who pointed out features of interest. The best being the water voles ( as in the photos) which have taken up residence at the centre. They are reasonably accustomed to the boats and posed for us whilst they noisily munched on their cache of reeds. Sadly water voles are declining in numbers across the UK due to all kinds of pressures so it is encouraging that the WWT centre provides some refuge for them.
Entry to the centre is free for WWT members. Non-members costs £10.90 for adults, Family tickets are £29.10.Related to:
Market town some 10 miles to the east of Chichester and less than 50 miles southwest of London, Arundel and its magnificent castle is the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, the most powerful catholic family in England for centuries.
The castle dominates the town, overlooking the picturesque centre, the banks of the river Arun and the surrounding countryside. Other attractions include the 19th century cathedral, the Wetlands Centre, the remains of Blackfriars Abbey and the superb surrounding countryside. But its also less than 15 minutes to the coast.
(See separate Arundel page)Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
The Downs Link
A 59 kilometre (37 mile) route, open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists managed by West Sussex and Surrey County Councils and
Waverley Borough Council.
This route follows an old railway line and is accessable in areas by car or train.
I have spent many a leisurely hour both cycling and walking this stretch of countryside and lapping up what beauty this part of England has to offer.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Horse Riding
Nymans is a spectacular garden made the more romantic by the backdrop of the ruins of the 14th century Manor. In an area renowned for its gardens (the Sussex Weald), Nymans stands out, thanks to the efforts of the Messel family, for more than 100 years between 1892 and 1992, who owned the house and grounds. The landscaping and layout owes its particular splendour to Leonard and Maud Messel who inherited the property in 1915 and their three children. Following the tragic fire that virtually destroyed the house in 1947, Nymans passed into the hands of the National Trust in 1953, although the family continued to be involved in the upkeep of the gardens.
The garden is laid out in a series of 'rooms', with the different levels connected by stone steps or grassy slopes, separated by hedges, walls or trees which provide shelter for the rare and exotic plants for which the garden is renowned. The individual gardens include the Wall Garden (the oldest), The Knot Garden, The Rose Garden, The Top Garden, The Sunk Garden, The Pinetum and several others. With the destruction of the manor, the ruins have been incorporated into the layout of the gardens.
Gardens: (Wednesday - Sunday) 1 February - 2 November, 10am - 5pm: 5 November - 31 January, 10am - 4pm
House: (Wednesday - Sunday) 19 March - 2 November, 11am - 4pm
Adults: £7.20, child £3.60, family £18
In spite of its long history and association with royalty (hence Regis added to its Saxon name in 1929 by King George V), the seaside resort of Bognor became the butt of many a joke in the 70s, not only because of its name (bog-nor) but because it became the site of one of the first Butlins holiday camps.
Renewal of Butlins in the last decade has seen luxury hotels and an indoor leisure park built, providing the resort with a new lease of life. The International Bognor Birdman - the annual competition for human-powered 'flying' machines – is held at the end of the pier and genteel buildings from its 19th century heyday and urban renewal provide some respite from the 'end of the pier' reputation the town has.
It's less than 6 miles to the east of Chichester, but its proximity to more celebrated resorts such as Worthing (10 miles) and Brighton (24 miles) has resulted in Bognor being very much the poor relation of the Sussex coastal resorts.
Main market town of the region as well as a cathedral city, Chichester has been settled since the Roman times when it was known as Noviomagus Reginorum. With its natural harbour (now silted and therefore used primarily for sailing and other leisure pursuits), it was a safe landing place and believed to have been the landing spot for the original Roman invasion. It has continued to be of importance – the chief city of the Kingdom of Sussex in the Anglo-Saxon period and the building of a cathedral in the 12th century confirmed its importance.
Nowadays, it may have lost its importance as a major city, but nevertheless it is the main market and service town to the region - in addition to the cathedral, its weekly market, main pedestrianised central streets, it has a highly respected theatre (Festival Theatre which has launched many a career) and a fairly large University of Chichester. It's also a great location to explore the surrounds - Sussex Downs, Sussex coast etc.
The closest open sea beach to Chichester is approx 15 miles to the south and Selsey. Pebble and shingle (so typical of the south coast) is the order of the day. Its a long sweep of beach, with the western part safest and therefore most developed (a number of caravan parks stretch along the shore), but to the east of the High Street is much more residential (my sister and family included), the groyns protecting the movement of shingle.
It's an OK village with a few pubs and a couple of restaurants but is not the most picturesque of places in the neighbourhood of Chichester.
Storms and lack of investment in sea protection are having their effect as the sea walls are breached by the pounding seas. The sea walls are in bad shape in some places.
An historic coastal village, Bosham (pronounced Bozem) is to be found a few miles west of the city of Chichester on an inlet of Chichester Harbour. Rich in history, it is nowadays primarily known for its sailing, located as it is within the relatively safe waters of the Harbour.
A settlement has been here since Roman times, close as it is to Chichester and the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, and it is also mentioned in the text of the 11th century Bayeaux tapestry. The Holy Trinity Church in the village is also believed by some to be the burial place of King Harold, he who copped an arrow in his eye at the Battle of Hastings and who is the only English monarch whose final remains' whereabouts are unknown (Waltham Abbey just outside London is believed to be the last resting place but there is no certain proof). A request to exhume a grave in the churchyard was turned down in 2004.
Nowadays, its a sleepy little village with a large sailing club belying its size and a town that attracts people in their hoardes to see the village partly flood at every high tide. The shoreline roads are immersed, leaving the other side of the inlet seemingly cut-off (not the case, there's an access road further inland). It'sl one of the nicest of Chichester Harbour's shoreline villages and well worth a couple of hours whilst exploring the Harbour and Sussex coast.
Lancing College and it's Chapel
Lancing college founded in 1848, initially a school for charitable cases, the agricultural and seafaring workforce. Lancing, Hurstpierpoint and Ardingly all bear the name of Revd Nathaniel Woodard, who founded these schools plus 8 others which were and remain grounded in the Christian faith.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Ditchling's Downs Walking Trail
This walk has an ascent of 600ft, there are 8 stiles, plenty of rolling South Downs plus a steep ascent and descent. Ditchling has been a settlement for the likes of Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Donald Sinden and even the father of 'The snowman' lives here. The man who created the London underground logo lived here too.
The Church is built of flint, when strolling the downs you will notice how prevalent this material is.
Our walk took us first on a steep climb up to Ditchling Beacon. During winter this is an extremely windy place but in Spring and Summer, the views are spectacular as is to be expected as at this place, you reach the third highest point of the South Downs, looking far into the distance of Ashdown Forest and the North Downs. It was used, as it's name suggests, to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada back in 1588, by lighting fires.
After stopping off at the Beacon to lap up a well earned Mr Whippy, we then headed off to the Clayton windmills of Jack and Jill. Take note these are only open on Sundays and Bank Holidays so we were unable to go inside. From here we set out to find the Chattri Indian War Museum but unfortunately we were unable to locate the route and as the day wore on time was limited, so headed to Pyecombe and towards Devils Dyke before returning to our start point via Keymer.
A steep climb downhill to this village, so a pair of strong knees are required.
A full day filled with lovely views and a semi challenging walk.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
LOXWOOD walk - London's Lost Route to the Sea
This walk is just 4.5 miles (7.2 km) and very pleasant. It takes about 2 hours and has the lovely Wey and Arun Canal running through it.
A little about the canal: The Wey and Arun Canal is presently being restored, 23 miles of it, between Shalford and Pallingham, it was built over 200 years ago, completed in 1816 and it links 3000 miles of inland waterways with the English Channel.
This canal ran for over 50 years, transporting mainly coal from Arundel to Guildford, also chalk, lime, timber and farm produce.
Starting in 1824 and continuing for 14 years, bullion was taken from Portsmouth to the Bank of England via this route, guarded all the way be Redcoats. It was like most waterways, the introduction of the train that became it's downfall and there is a section of this particular canal that was used in the Second World War for target practice by the Canadians.
Already 11 locks, 24 bridges and 2 aqueducts have been restored and are in use. The Trust that began in 1973 to put this project in motion runs canal boat trips along the restored part of the canal, from the High Street.
The towpath is open to walkers and cyclists and there is a decent pub called the Onslow Arms that serves a pint and a good meal right beside the canal itself.
The walk passes through the village and into woods and fields, at one point you pass through Spy Lane where there is a small non descript chapel which is now home to the Emmanual Fellowship, however, in it's early days of the 19th century, it belonged to John Sirgood and his religious sect. They did not approve of books, music, sport or theatre, they refused to solemnise marriage but they did do a huge amount of charity work. This sect was known as the Cokelers, named after a field in the area. When his followers passed on they were buried without head stones in the graveyard and that is how they are seen to this day, anonymous.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Sailing and Boating
Cuckfield Walking Trail
Cuckfield, attaining it's name from the delights of the cuckoo's that famously frequented the area, the pronouciation is as in Cuckoo!!
The village remains small, its charm and quaintness makes the ambience of this village so enticing, as a visitor one simply does not want to leave, its stunning homes, old fashioned shops and countryside that rolls on and on and on. There is but a coffee shop, an old clock shop, hair dressers, florist and beauticians, an Estate Agent and a couple of pubs. I tried the Talbot, it was quiet and the 'garden' was a little over filled with mums and toddlers to be able to have a peaceful glass of wine but the barman was pleasant and friendly.
The church is 15th century, although it evolved from the chapel which is 13th century, the churchyard is beautifully kept and serenely peaceful, it's also very large. The Church Spire peers over the Cuckfield as if keeping watch on it's inhabitants. It is possible to see Jack and Jill Windmills from here (see Ditchling walk). The ceiling of the church is wondrous and thought to have been a gift from the grandson of John of Gaunt who lived in Cuckfield in 1464.
The walk took about 2hrs 15, it winds through woodlands, parklands, there are 7 stiles to cross and there are places where it can be very boggy, so walking boots a must if not your welly's.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Copsale/Nuthurst Walking Trail
Copsale is a hamlet in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England. It was where we started our walk, there is a pub here called the Orchard (we did not use it), it was from here we took our first steps into our 8 mile walk on a crisp, heavily frosted day, the sun shinning brightly and the air with a welcoming chill to it, after being caged up for the New Year festivities.
This walk is a delight with varying terrains, woods, dirt tracks, fields and walking paths. My two girlfriends and I headed off with packed lunch and wellies into the countryside. It took us about almost 4 hours to complete the walk, this did include a half hour stop for hot chocolate at the Black Horse pub in Nuthurst
Nuthurst is a village and civil parish in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England, 2.5 miles (4 km) south Horsham. Its Church of England parish church is St. Andrews.
I can't wait to do it again in the Spring, when the bluebells appear, a very different scene from the beautiful frosty winter spectacle of today's look.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Shipley & Dragons Green Walk
Shipley is just a 15 min drive from Horsham and sits next to the Hamlet of Dragons Green. Shipley has the largest windmill in Sussex, built in 1879 and in working order, although presently it is no longer open to the public.
The windmill along with the property Kingsland was once owned by Hilaire Belloc, the author and poet who wrote a lot about Sussex.
The large parish church, St Mary's, is Norman and was built during the 12th Century.
Shipley was the largest Preceptory (Headquarters) in Sussex. In approximately 1139, Philip de Braose (or Harcourt), son of Robert the Strong, gave the Shipley manor and its church to the Order of the Knights Templars. Shipley was a mainly agricultural preceptory, and even today, this pleasant village remains peaceful and unspoilt.
George Tull, in 'Traces of the Templars', tells us more about the special reliquary that was found in this church:
"A special treasure…was a 13th c. reliquary which, from its style, was probably made in Limoges. This was in the form of an oakwood casket about seven inches long with a sharply pitched roof, covered in copper and enamelled with Saints and the Crucifixion in gold, dark and light blue; essentially a tiny church or shrine for the Saints whose relics were here. Unfortunately, there is now only a replica of this priceless reliquary to be seen there, as the original was stolen in 1976." (1)
The Templars were also known to have had lands nearby at Loxwood, Wisborough and Bramber, and the chapel at Knepp.
The last Preceptor of Shipley was William de Egendon, 1304-8, after which the lands were turned over to the Hospitallers, which was usually the case after 1307.
Dragons Green has a selection of timber cottages and is quite isolated, although close to the A272. Dragons Green is said to have seen the last of any dragons in England, probably a monitor lizard.
There are two pubs one is the George and Dragon and the other The Country Man Inn, both are mentioned in my restaurant tips.
The George and Dragon has a headstone in it's front garden, remembering Walter Budd, an albino and epileptic who took his own life as a result of taunting. He was buried in the churchyard with the words 'May God forgive those who forgot their duty to him who was just and afflicted'.
The church demanded this was removed from the graveyard and so his parents, who were once the owners of the pub, placed the stone in their garden. A brave act indeed during such times.
Our walk also included footpaths through the polo fields, so a chance to watch some action on this occasion.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Slinfold Walking Trail
Slinfold is just 5 miles west of Horsham. This village has the true feel of the country and embraces a real community spirit too. As most villages the houses cluster in the main (alhtough now there have been developments grow in the area) around the village shop, the pub and St Peter's church, a restored victorian structure.
We began our walk at Clapgate Lane, hm conjurs up all sorts or sordidness from bygone days but in fact it is thought to have been used by teams of horses with gates along the length of it triggered to open by some form of mechanism, to open and close them as approached.
An easy walk of 5.5 miles.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
West Sussex Hotels
27-29 High Street, Arundel, BN18 9AG, gb
Good for: Business
Pretty characterless hotel on an industrial estate east of the city centre. Too far out to walk....more
I travelled from the Isle of Man to London Gatwick on Sunday 7th September, staying overnight in one...more
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