Originally published Autumn 2020
Writing a quarterly column about what to do with children in around Arundel during a global pandemic is a bit of a tricky one to say the least! I’m hoping that by the time you read this the children are safely back at school and all our lovely local small businesses have managed to open and we’re back to normal, or the new normal as they like to call it.
Unfortunately, I’m a bit more skeptical than that, so just in case we’re still facing restrictions, some children are not back at school and life isn’t as we once knew it – or even if it is – I thought I’d share my four favourite family walks to find some space and solitude no matter what’s going on in the world.
1. Binsted Woods
We absolutely love exploring the woods between Torton
Hill Road and Arundel C of E school and surprisingly even in the middle of lockdown when everyone was out and about there was room to walk on our own. The woods is the perfect place for children to let off steam, run wild and make as much noise as they like. We walk up through the woods, then cross over Tortington Lane and keep walking through Binsted Woods. When we’re feeling energetic we head towards the Black Horse pub and onto Walberton, or we cut across the footpath into the fields and head towards the stables and back up the Tortington Hill Lane. There’s bridges to cross and ponds to explore on the way so plenty to see and do.
2. Swings at Whiteways
Discovering the woodland delights and getting lost at Whiteways has been wonderful for all of us. Head down the valley from the car park (where it can get crowded) and get lost amongst the trees. There are swings that have been put up throughout the woods, we’ve found at least eight as we’ve walked around as well as dens made from logs. When I really want to keep the children entertained I also create a woodland treasure hut that keeps them busy searching as we while away the hours. (I’ve included one here for you to get you started!)
3. Hiorne Tower to Swanbourne Lake
A walk loved by many in Arundel – but I’m also surprised by how many local families I photograph haven’t been up there before. Heading up to Arundel Park by the Castle cricket ground (opposite St Philips School) and down towards Swanbourne Lake. While many tourists head down Mill Road directly for the lake, going the back way and approaching the lake from the above is much quieter. The children love playing knights around Hirone Tower and the walk down to the lake is just beautiful no matter the weather. The path has had a
lot of work done to it over the last year making it much firmer under foot and easy for bikes or buggies – unless you want a bit more adventure in which case take the short cut straight down the vertical incline.
4. A loop of The Lord’s Piece
A little bit further out of town, we’ve discovered the beauty and calm of The Lord’s Piece – open Heathland not far from Fittleworth. It’s such a lovely spot for a walk or a picnic so it’s worth the drive. Hills to run around in and some woodland areas for bridge building keep the children’s interest. There’s also a big pond where our dog loves to swim. At the time of writing its covered in purple heather with big ferns growing (the boys like to pretend they’re in Jurrasic Park!). Easy parking at the car park and open space so there’s no way of getting lost. On a busy day we see no more than a handful of people throughout our walk.
It wouldn’t be my column without a mention of a beach walk! And our local beach is slightly quieter on a busy warm day then Littlehampton but can still be quite busy. We tend to head there before 9 or after 5 when the kids aren’t at school to avoid the crowds but I’d also recommend parking up and heading right along the beach rather than left towards Littlehampton. For some reason not many people head that way so you can find a bit of space. Even better if you head at low tide when the beach triples in size.
Woodland activities for little ones
While going on all the walks we do, I often get asked how I motivate my children to keep going! Despite what my Instagram says, it’s not always easy and of course I get moaned at when we set off. But I believe it’s about building stamina and keeping them interested. Often this is in the form of snacks (!) but I also try and play games and do activities with them as we go along. A favourite of mine is creating a treasure hunt. You can either take a bag or basket for the treasures they find or alternatively a long piece of string to tie to a stick and attach all the treasures to that- which doubles up as a naturel wand once all the items have been found.
Here’s some ideas as to what you could include on your list
(For older children it can be a little tougher but incorporating technology and creativity might be
an idea. A stop motion film using an iPhone app incorporating natural elements could peak their interest, or a video story of the walk cut to music. I have info about these kind of creative projects on my website!)