South Downs – Walking in Arundel Park
A lovely autumnal walk up through Arundel Park, to a familiar bench, overlooking the River Arunand the village of Amberley, a favourite ramble not done for some fifteen months. Though, as with so many walks, it felt that not a moment had passed since I was last there.
I think it was the poet Edward Thomas, trying to think up a beautiful English word, who gave up, thinking that the word Amberley could not be bettered. He also commented that the countryside north of Arundel was very near to Paradise.
I walked up from Swanbourne Lake, half-dry, but full of wildfowl, this year’s signets nearly fully grown. As I walked up through the Duke of Norfolk’s pheasant preserves, the autumn breeze blew down showers of autumn leaves over my head, disturbed pheasants scuttled into cover and a partridge ran across the ride.
The head of Arundel Park is a very peaceful spot, and I enjoyed regarding it from the solitary bench. Good views across Sussex, old paths in the Arun valley revealing themselves when seen from this high vantage point.
Then across a grassy downland path, and a steep woodland track, its chalk exposed from much use, down through a gate in the park wall to the banks of the Arun.
The park wall is a remarkable flint construction, in its way an architectural marvel, as it loops the thousand acres of the park. Now the estate has a fairly liberal access policy, far beyond the rights of way. But what must the wall have said to local people when the 11th Duke of Norfolk had it built in 1787? Something like “This is Mine – Keep Out?”
I followed the Arun to South Stoke with its beautiful and peaceful little church and churchyard – a truly peaceful place. The church itself, lit for evening services only by candlelight, is delightfully simple, it graveyard and setting an oasis of calm.
Then on to Arundel, with its splendid walking stick shop – worth a visit just to gaze at the hundreds of sticks – and a good hour browsing in Kim’s antiquarian bookshop – a good place to seek out walking books old and new.
If you are seeking a walk in the area, there are one or two on my website www.johnbainbridgewriter.com
More thoughts on the South Downs and downland access next week.