Saturday, 10 November 2007

River Arun

Last August I rowed up the Arun from Littlehampton to Arundel, mainly to test the new positions of my riggers.
The lower Arun is a strangely unattractive stream, because the lovely scenery is hidden by the featureless river walls that imprison the water in its channel. Some simple landscaping, perhaps with a few trees, reed beds and perhaps a few artificial beaches would make the river much more attractive and attract more boaters and walkers.
The slipway at Littlehampton is new and magnificent. All the old woodsheds that used to line the river have been replaced with flats and the area is now buzzing. There are even a few restaurants and bars.
The car park includes several double length bays for cars with trailers, a very useful feature. River licences can be bought at the nearby shop, but boats without engines are free.
The aim was to be wafted upriver to Arundel by the tide. There, I would hang around at the Boatyard & Tea Garden until the tide turned and waft gently down again. I miscalculated rather - you only need to set out about an hour before HT to catch the flow, and if you set out earlier you have to wait up to four hours for the tide to change, such is the length of the river.
The reach up from Littlehampton is lined with flats, boat clubs and a couple of big wharves for gravel barges.
Then it gets a bit boring until Ford, where the end of the old Chichester Canal can be seen. The pub does camping and has a slipway.
The rail bridge looks a bit intimidating but is easy to negotiate.

The river is rather featureless from then to Arundel, which is incredibly pretty. The bridge is very low (in the floods a couple of years ago the water came nearly over the parapet, a very alarming sight).

Upstream of the bridge is the Boatyard & Tea Garden. The bank consists of a series of concrete steps, which make getting out very awkward with the outriggers getting in the way. But the staff were very friendly and the tea plus slice of sticky cake was delicious.
Then I tried to get back in, missed my footing and fell in the river. Blast. The boat hire people were superb, bringing an electric pump and a battery to bail the boat, and even offering me a dry sweater to wear. I managed to dry out more or less on the row back to Littlehampton, though.
For a rower, looking back at Arundel is the best view of the town with the RC cathedral, the old parish church and the Duke of Norfolk's castle lined up on brow of the hill.

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