Thursday, 3 August 2017

Pulborough Brooks

Village Sign
A modest walk but  perfect for a Sunday afternoon is this one in Pulborough.  It is walk number 3 in vol. 66 of the Pathfinder Guides West Sussex and the South Downs. I've been waiting for the perfect day to do it and think I found it - dry everywhere; no mud (which would plague this walk in the winter), puffy clouds and plenty of sunshine.  I had youngest daughter for company and we headed out late afternoon after the heat of the day had passed. We parked in the car park by the library, which is free to use on a Sunday (pay and display on all the other days).

Outstanding tree
Much of this walk is familiar territory, having featured in other walks on this blog but it is worth doing in its own right principally because it packs so much into its short length.  We set off from the car park down the lane that takes you straight out on to the flood plain of the River Arun and past the old house at the end that looks so idyllic (see my walk from the Arun Valley).  

Idyllic Cottage
As soon as we left the built up area of Pulborough behind it was like we immediately entered a different world.  Now the skies were big, the atmosphere airy and the immediate surroundings full of life as the brooks were full of fluttering butterflies and buzzy bees and dragonflies.  It was certainly a good education for young daughter as we identified wild flowers and their visiting butterflies as we went.  

Morning Glory
We soon reached the river and this was in a serene mood.  It is surprisingly still tidal at this point and was quite full suggesting that the tide was in.  That probably helped the mood, in keeping with the lazy summer's day with clouds just bobbing along in a bright blue sky.  Our moment with the river was quite brief as we were soon heading across the floodplain to the RSPB Nature Reserve that flanks this part of the valley.  As we did so we passed by quite a large flush of thistles that were covered in ladybirds - I'm not sure I have ever seen so many in one place before!

Outboard
As we entered the nature reserve we followed some of the butterflies that lived here and in particular the Commas that seemed to like the brambles that grew in profusion around the path.  The route across the nature reserve takes a different course than the walk that RSPB visitors take but apart from the visits to the hides I am not sure it is any less enjoyable.  Although I never have it looks like it would be quite possible to enter the RSPB reserve walk from this angle.  

New Growth
From a closed in track we headed through a gate and across a wide open field - the contrast was quite a surprise.  It looked like it should be full of grazing animals but there weren't any today, not even lurking in the shadowy corners out of the sun.  At the other end we resumed a course along a hemmed in path between fields and soon came across the delightful little church at Wiggonholt.  This is  church without a village it seems as there are few houses here and surely not enough for a congregation.  Yet the old place looks quite well kept and in good health so the few that do come for services here obviously have a lot of pride in the place.  Sadly the church was locked so we were denied a look inside.

Wiggonholt Church
We pushed on, avoiding the suggestion of a visit to the visitor centre this time as we have been many times before.  Instead we took a hard left and took a path between two large houses and headed back in the direction of Pulborough.  The path was flanked by the same thistles that we had seen down in the valley but this time they were covered in cardinal beetles rather than ladybirds.  I assume they vie for the same food?

Cardinal Beetles
Away from the Brooks the scenery was quite different, signifying the sandy soils that this area of the Weald has.  In fact this is the Greensand ridge of Sussex, a much smaller feature than the equivalent one in Surrey and almost unnoticeable in places.  The soil is a dead giveaway though as the dry conditions would contrast greatly with the pudding conditions of the alluvial plain in the winter.  On a dry summer's day there was little difference between them.

Holiday Cottages
We crossed a field with some friendly horses who all came over to have a nose at us.  Sadly for them we weren't carrying any tidbits or peppermints and as a result they soon lost interest.  We continued on a route that took us down to a footpath that tracked along the very edge of the floodplain.  It was a delightful path, flanked by wild flowers and with tantalising glimpses across the valley to the ridge of Bignor Hill beyond.  We also passed a holiday cottage that is in a very tempting location for birdwatchers.  I suspect that this one gets good residency rates even in the winter months when birdlife is a bit more obvious than it was today.

Footbridge
Eventually we got to the end of the path and crossed a small footbridge and entered the built up area of Pulborough by the White Horse pub.  I have long liked the look of this place although have yet to visit.  With a small child in tow I wasn't going to today either.  The remaining part of the walk suffers from being along the  main road back towards the car park where we had started.  The only saving grace were some of the fascinating houses along the way.  There were so many lovely ones but I'm not sure I would be tempted by any of them due to their proximity to the main road.
Pulborough View

Only an hour and a half or so after we had started and we were back to the beginning - both of us were well satisfied with this short outing.