We are truly blessed in this little corner of West Sussex to boast some of the very best wetlands in the UK. So why not make the most of them?
Winter is a great time to enjoy the salt marshes and other wetlands of Sussex. Wrap up warm and don’t forget the binoculars, as you head out on one of these scenic wildlife walks
Pagham Harbour – right on our doorstep!
Location: Sidlesham, near Chichester, PO20 7NE
The wetland: Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve is a sheltered inlet that fills and empties with each tide, creating a wetland habitat for wildlife, particularly birds. The site is managed by the RSPB and covers 1,450 acres of salt marsh, farmland, marshes, lagoons, reed beds and shingle beaches. It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site.
The wildlife: There are many birds to spot in autumn and winter, including redstarts, spotted flycatchers, honey buzzards, wrynecks, Brent geese, teals and pintails, as well common and grey seals.
The walk: From the RSPB car park on the B2145 between Sidlesham and Selsey, head south. The path eventually leads through hedgerow, alongside water, out towards the wetlands, and finally the beach. You can do a circular loop through Church Norton, but this involves walking along a stretch of the main road.
Where to refuel: The Crab & Lobster restaurant (01243 641233; crab-lobster.co.uk; PO20 7NB) in Sidlesham serves tasty dishes made with locally caught fish and shellfish. To find it, head right out of the car park, then after half a mile turn right down Mill Lane.
Dogs: Should be put on a lead when close to wildlife in the reserve.
01243 641508; rspb.org.uk?
Location: Arundel, near Littlehampton, BN18 9PB
The wetland: WWT Arundel is a 65-acre nature reserve on the banks of the River Arun, encompassing reed beds. Many birds can also be seen on the nearby lake beside Arundel Castle.
The wildlife: Look out for kingfishers, tufted duck, shoveler, teal, pochard, gadwall, and mallard ducks, Canada geese, and water voles, who are busy fattening up for the winter.
The walk: Enjoy a walk through the reed beds of the wetland centre, along a network of boardwalks. If you fancy a longer stroll, you can do a circuit through Arundel Park and along the banks of the River Arun.
Where to refuel: The Black Rabbit pub (01903 882638; theblackrabbitarundel.co.uk; BN18 9PB) is on the river between Arundel and Offham, just north of the wetland centre; Swanbourne Lodge (01903 884293; swanbournelodge.co.uk; BN18 9PA) sits beside Swanbourne Lake opposite the wetland centre and serves cream teas; and there is also a café in the wetland centre.
Disabled access: Every area of the wetland centre is accessible.
Dogs: Only assistance dogs are welcome in the wetland centre.
01903 883355; wwt.org.uk?
Location: Pulborough, near Petworth, RH20 2EL
The wetland: Open year-round, RSPB Pulborough Brooks encompasses wetlands, woodlands, and heathland of the South Downs National Park. In late autumn and winter the flooded meadows are an important habitat for birds.
The wildlife: Look out for flycatchers, fieldfares, redwings, redstarts, whinchats, and yellow wagtails. You may also see wigeon, teal, and shoveler ducks, as well as swans and geese. In winter birds of prey such as peregrines, merlins and sparrowhawks soar the skies.
The walk: The wetland trail is two miles but a longer walk can be enjoyed along the riverbanks and past Lickfold village.
Where to refuel: The Pulborough Brooks café serves hearty hot lunches, soup, sandwiches, and cakes.
Disabled access: A mobility scooter is available, or a manual wheelchair can access the main trail with a strong helper.
Dogs: Four-legged visitors are allowed on the public footpaths, only assistance dogs are allowed on the wetland nature trail.
01798 875851; rspb.org.uk?
© Gayle Palmer. Chichester Self Catering 2016
Pagham Harbour and dog walking post – click here