Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: A run up the Arun

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,912

    Default A run up the Arun

    The Arun is a rather unusual river in West Sussex. On the face of it, the upper sections above Pulborough are simply a lovely rural river through beautiful countryside. However, there's an added challenge here, for the river is still tidal, despite being 20 odd miles from the sea. Part of the fun is trying to guess how long it is after the posted tide at Littlehampton for the same state of tide to reach Pulborough and beyond. The best guess seems to be around 3-4 hours, but its very dependent on size of tide and amount of rainwater in the river, plus the fact you're also travelling further and further from the sea so the ebb and flow is even later...

    Late last week, Stewart put out a call for anyone interested in a paddle on Sunday. The Arun was suggested, and in the end 5 of us launched from the slipway by Pulborough's old bridge. We were headed upstream, to see how far we could get. Normally, Pallingham Quay Farm is the obvious high point, for by then the river is too shallow too often. However, with the tide rising as we went upstream, we hoped we'd get a little further.

    At the put in, the ramp is rather slippery and some care is required. At very low tides, the bottom is pretty much an empty river, but we were a little before that so had to put in from the slippy slope straight into the water.


    Pete





    Maj, with his patented canoe trolley launch system






    We headed upstream against a moderately strong flow, passing riverside properties and a few very friendly fisherfolk.












    It might not look like it, but at times we were working pretty hard against the flow. Once we reached the confluence of the Rother, which comes in from the west on river right, the flow eased a little.






    From the Rother to Stopham the flow is much gentler, and the surroundings start to become more and more attractive. Even the concrete pipe bridge has a certain elegance to its design.












    Stopham is an ancient crossing place that can also be used as a launch point for smaller groups. Here one of the loveliest bridges in the south east spans the gentle flow, the warm colours of the stone highlighted by a sudden, and rare, glimpse of the sun.






    The bridge was mostly built in around 1422, so its not exactly the most modern construction. The middle arch was raised to allow boats through when the Wey and Arun canal was constructed nearly two hundred years ago, and there have been numerous repairs too. Perhaps the most interesting being when one arch was demolished during the English Civil War, and temporarily replaced by a wooden drawbridge. In keeping with any ancient crossing place, there has been a pub on this spot for centuries too. The White Hart is highly recommended, a proper old English pub with bags of character, log fires, and proper ales - we would of course be visiting later..






    From here on, the river becomes increasingly beautiful. It is somehow far removed from the villages and roads of Sussex, for there is no road bridge for another 9 meandering miles or so, and no roads follow its banks.









    Nick





    At first, the river is quite wide. Later it narrows, then widens, then narrows again, the wide bits being a distinctive and unusual feature of this stream. In summer, the narrow bits can be really tight battles through reeds, yet then you suddenly come out on a bit that feels like a long thin lake, before it closes in once again. Today, though, the narrow bits on this lower section were easily passed, most noticeable for a brief increase in the flow.














    Stewart











    Once the wider sections behind us, the river became narrower and much windier. At times there was now a reasonable flow against us, but the idyllic landscapes around us made the harder work worthwhile.









    Nearing The Quells, the wooded slopes were still covered in the colours of autumn.









    We had a short break here, for I knew there weren't many easy places further upstream. Mind you, this was still an entertaining place to get out, involving a "ramming speed" approach and a shoe-sucking traverse of a boggy bit...


    After just a brief snack and a brew from a flask for most, it was time to face our next challenge. From here on up, the Arun is narrow and flowing, with just the odd bit of respite. Normally there are some shallow riffle sections that might need us to walk through, but today the combination of rising tide, despite the flow still coming down from inland, and recent rain, meant the level was much higher than normal.









    Its hard to take photos whilst battling upstream, so there aren't many. The first bit involved a place where a tree has blocked all but a canoe width bit of the stream, funnelling the water strongly through the gap. This involved a combination of fast entry speed, a shove or two with the paddle, maybe a quick haul on a plant, and then a paddling battle to gain the slower stream a few yards beyond.

    A little further, where the river is normally shallowest, it was merely a section of fast flow we had to work our way up.












    We were doing well, though it was hard work, the depth of the river and the lack of summer's greenery meant it was all eminently do-able. Sooner than I expected, we were approaching Pallingham Quay Farm.






    Its an odd name for a farm in the middle of deepest Sussex. Once again, you need to turn to history to understand why. In the early nineteenth century, the Wey and Arun canal was constructed, to shorten the journey from London to the South Coast for boats. Below Pallingham, the river was then wide enough, and kept that way by dredging and digging, but above here it was, and is, a meandering narrow stream. The canal was therefore cut to straighten the meanders, its line can be seen on map and ground to this day, and joined the river just below the place the farm now is. So naturally, a quay was needed at this point.

    What it means for a river traveller in a small canoe is what I fondly refer to as the Pallingham Quay Rapids. Basically a shallow and narrow bit that is normally either waded or poled/punted up. Today, though, it was a fast flowing section, with a narrow constriction, that needed a little guile (pulling on anything you could get away with) and a lot of energy. Some folk took a couple of attempts, being swept back downstream as energy levels declined, but we all made it.












    Our efforts meant that the group strung out a little, for there weren't any good places to wait in the flow which, though less, continued for a few hundred yards upstream.






    Eventually, the flow eased so that paddling was pretty easy again. It had been hard work for the last mile to get this far up, but now we were on easier water, if smaller. Soon we would have to turn back to ensure we made it to Pulborough before dark, but for now we enjoyed a lovely explore on a little-paddled section. I've only made it this far twice before on very high tides, and this had been the hardest one in terms of effort. A couple of partially blocked bits meant for some ducking and filled the canoes with bits of debris.




















    Just as we were thinking it was time to turn, a fallen tree blocked the whole flow ahead. This would be our "summit" for the day. We stopped briefly, before turning, with the flow at last.















    The next few miles were utterly delightful. Going back down the Arun, with a decent flow behind us, was wonderful. Now we had time to take in the scenery, our muscles need only be used for a little light steering. The constantly winding stream was just wonderful to paddle down, the canoes light and easy on the friendly flow beneath us.












    It also meant there was time to chat, and time to stop paddling and just drift in the wider bits.















    Reaching the wider sections once again, we became aware of the wind, which had been steady all day. Fortunately it was mostly behind or to the side. However, the tide was still coming in, and was now flowing against us, our muscles' work was not yet over. The light, though, was becoming lovely as the afternoon waned towards evening.









    A mile above Stopham is a tree-sheltered section that is so often still and calm. Today was no exception.















    We'd aimed to stop at the pub by the bridge on the way back. In the end, with limited daylight, we decided to press on. No danger of missing out on an apres-paddle drink, though, for we simply planned to drive there afterwards. For now, we paddled on.






    As is so often the case, though the muscles were weary at the end of quite a tough day, the mind didn't want the paddle to end. The last section was beautiful, as the sun peeped through gaps in the clouds









    The sight of the railway bridge meant we just had a few hundred metres more to do, and soon enough we were at the slipway.









    The slipway provided a little entertainment once again, but didn't claim any victims on this occasion. We lugged canoes and gears over the bridge to the layby, and headed for the pub, for a very good pint and the bonus of free Yorkshire Puds and roast spuds, left over from Sunday lunch. A delicious end to a mouth-wateringly good day on the river.



    Normal route to Pallingham Quay Farm: http://www.paddlepoints.net/PaddlePo...hp?PP=210&r=42

    We made it about another km upstream. My new gadgetty Garmin watch thing reckoned we did about 15 km and 4800 Paddle Strokes. This include quarter of a mile in the car, when I forgot to turn it off, but is about right on distance as I'd forgotten to turn it on at the start for about 1/4 mile...
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    465

    Default

    Lovely blog Mal and happy to be part of it. Quite pleased with my trolley launch...my old battered canoe needs to be treated gently in her old age.

    Thanks to rick for finding my hat.

    Looking forward to doing this in the summer...

    Maj

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Leeds
    Posts
    650

    Default

    Looks fantastic!

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
    When I read about the evils of drinking I gave up reading.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Nr Rochester in Kent
    Posts
    3,826

    Default

    Nice blog. Must do that section sometime. Only been downriver to Littlehampton so far. Looks very pleasant.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Poole
    Posts
    705

    Default

    Another superb blog of a stunning adventure - shame I couldn't join you on this occasion, but look forward to a date for a re-run!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    On the bank of the Basingstoke canal
    Posts
    863

    Default

    A superb day out and thank you for the great photo's and company.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Bangor, Co Down.
    Posts
    4,666

    Default

    Another stunning blog. Looked like the perfect trip for a spot of polling. It's great to explore those hidden gems. We'll done everyone.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,912

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by silverbeard View Post
    Lovely blog Mal and happy to be part of it. Quite pleased with my trolley launch...my old battered canoe needs to be treated gently in her old age.

    Thanks to rick for finding my hat.

    Looking forward to doing this in the summer...

    Maj
    Yeah forgot to mention meeting Rick and co at the start! Sorry...


    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Starr View Post
    Looks fantastic!
    It is


    Quote Originally Posted by Matto View Post
    Nice blog. Must do that section sometime. Only been downriver to Littlehampton so far. Looks very pleasant.
    This is in a different league Matt!


    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianO View Post
    Another superb blog of a stunning adventure - shame I couldn't join you on this occasion, but look forward to a date for a re-run!
    Its a great spring/summer run this, with added reed and jungle bashing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sirus View Post
    A superb day out and thank you for the great photo's and company.
    Had worse days...and company!


    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    Another stunning blog. Looked like the perfect trip for a spot of polling. It's great to explore those hidden gems. We'll done everyone.
    Cheers Al. I carried the pole up and down, but couldn't be arsed to use it. Definitely good poling sections if you're that way inclined though.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Kettering Northamptonshire
    Posts
    1,214

    Default

    Nice looking trip Mal - liked the history bit about the old quay too.

    Feeling some gadget envy - err, what is it & do I need one?
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,912

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Patterdale Paddler View Post
    Nice looking trip Mal - liked the history bit about the old quay too.

    Feeling some gadget envy - err, what is it & do I need one?
    Hah. Just a fitness watch thing, Garmin Vivoactive 3, but it tracks by GPS and if I set it to "row" it sort of works for paddlin'. You can view the track and stats like heart rate, no of strokes etc on app or website afterwards. Mostly I use it to remind me I've done flip all on some days so need to do some exercise!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Lochwinnoch, Scotland
    Posts
    17,231

    Default

    Looks like a good river for exploring. I like the paddling upstream so you get the easy route back. Reminds me I need to try poking up the river Endrick again sometime.
    John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Wirral
    Posts
    795

    Default

    Nice blog Mal. The reflections picture of the bridge at Stopham is really wonderful.
    "I'd far rather be happy than right any day"..........Slartibartfast

    http://apachecanoes.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Peak District
    Posts
    436

    Default

    Lovely looking river and particularly lovely bridge. Thanks.

  14. #14

    Default

    Lovely to see it at this time of year. I've never been a huge fan of paddling against the flow so in the past have launched at new bridge near billingshurst and canoed down to pulborough using a bike for the shuttle. Presumably this is still possible???

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Surrey by the Wey
    Posts
    43

    Default

    Mal

    Great pictures as ever. and I never knew how old the bridge was even though I must have paddled under it many times, thanks to all.

    Cheers Nick

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •