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Standing Guard Over Arundel

A very varied walk following the River Arun to Arundel Park and concluding with a tour of this handsome Sussex town.

Distance 3.3 miles (5.3km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Riverside and parkland paths, some road walking, 2 stiles

Landscape Valley, rolling parkland and town

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 121 Arundel & Pulborough

Start/finish TQ 020071

Dog friendliness Off lead on tow path. Not permitted in Arundel Park. Final stage of the walk is along busy roads in Arundel

Parking Mill Road fee-paying car park, Arundel

Public toilets Arundel town centre and Swanbourne Lake

Notes Arundel Park is closed annually on 24th March

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1 From the car park in Mill Road, turn right and walk along the tree-lined pavement. Pass the bowling green and a glance to your left will reveal a dramatic view of historic Arundel Castle with its imposing battlements.

2 Follow the road to the elegant stone bridge, cross over via a footbridge and turn right to join the riverside path, partly shaded by overhanging trees. Emerging from the cover, the path cuts across lush, low-lying ground to reach the western bank of the Arun. Turn left and walk beside the reed-fringed Arun to the Black Rabbit pub, which can be seen standing out against a curtain of trees.

3 From the Black Rabbit, follow the minor road in a roughly westerly direction back towards Arundel, passing the entrance to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Make for the gate leading into Arundel Park and follow the path alongside Swanbourne Lake. Eventually the lake fades from view as the walk reaches deeper into the park. Ignore a turning branching off to the left, just before a gate and stile, and follow the path as it curves gently to the right.

4 Turn sharply to the left at the next waymarked junction and begin a fairly steep ascent, with the footpath through the park seen curving away down to the left, back towards the lake. This stretch of the walk offers fine views over Arundel Park. Head for a stile and gate, then bear immediately right up the bank. Cross the grass, following the waymarks and keeping to the left of Hiorne Tower. On reaching a driveway, turn left and walk down to Park Lodge. Keep to the right by the private drive and make for the road.

5 Turn left, pass Arundel Cathedral and bear left at the road junction by the entrance to Arundel Castle. Go down the hill, back into the centre of Arundel. You'll find Mill Road at the bottom of the High Street.

Arundel has rows of elegant Georgian and Victorian buildings, fine shops and a picturesque riverside setting, but topping the list of attractions is surely the town's magnificent castle - the jewel in Arundel's crown. Driving along the A27 to the south of Arundel, the great battlemented castle, together with the grandiose French Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral, can be seen standing guard over the town, dwarfing all the other buildings in sight.

There has been a castle here since the 11th century, though most of the present fortification is Victorian. Arundel Castle is the principal ancestral home of the Dukes of Norfolk, formerly the Earls of Arundel. There are various family portraits inside the castle, some of them believed to date back to the Wars of the Roses. The Norfolks have lived at Arundel since the 16th century. According to the plaque at the bottom of the High Street: 'Since William Rose and Harold fell, There have been Earls at Arundel'.

The castle was attacked by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. However, it was extensively rebuilt and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. Within its great walls lies a treasure trove of sumptuous riches, including a fascinating collection of fine furniture dating from the 16th century, tapestries, clocks and portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Mytens and Lawrence - among others. Personal items belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots and an assortment of religious and heraldic items from the Duke of Norfolk's collection can also be viewed.

The walk starts down by the Arun and from here there are teasing glimpses of the castle, but it is not until you have virtually finished the walk that you reach its main entrance, saving the best until last.

Following the riverbank through the tranquil Arun valley, renowned for its bird life, the walk eventually reaches Arundel Park, a delight in any season. Swanbourne Lake, a great attraction for young children, lies by the entrance to the park, making it easily accessible for everyone. However, once the bustling lake scene fades from view and the sound of children at play finally dies, the park assumes a totally different character. Rolling hills and tree-clad slopes crowd in from every direction and only occasional serious walkers, some of them following the long distance Monarch's Way recreational path, are likely to be seen in these more remote surroundings.

You may feel isolated, briefly cut off the from the rest of the world at this point, but the interlude is soon over when you find yourself back in Arundel's busy streets. Pass the huge edifice of the cathedral, built in 1870, and make your way down to the castle entrance. Walk down the High Street, said to be the steepest in England, and by the bridge at the bottom you can see the remains of the Blackfriars monastery, dissolved in 1546 by Henry VIII.

Where to eat and drink

Arundel offers a good choice of places to eat and drink. The Black Rabbit at Offham, on the route of the walk, is delightfully situated on the Arun. Cheerful hanging baskets add plenty of colour in summer when you can sit outside and relax in these very attractive surroundings. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre offers a café by the water's edge and there is a picnic site by Swanbourne Lake.

While you're there

Visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Conservation Centre, which is directly on the route of the walk. There are many attractions to divert your attention. Ducks, geese and swans from all over the world make their home here and the popular boardwalk enables you to explore one of the largest reed beds in Sussex. There's also an award-winning visitor centre. Call at the Arundel Museum and Heritage Centre which illustrates the town's colourful and lively past with a series of fascinating exhibits and photographs, providing a unique glimpse into the development of the town and the lives of its people. The museum, in the High Street, has examples of costume, weaponry and demonstrations of local industries such as brick and pipe making.

What to look for

Climbing up from Arundel Park brings you to Hiorne Tower, a remote but beautifully situated folly. Triangular in shape and newly restored, the folly was built by Francis Hiorne in an effort to ingratiate himself with the then Duke of Norfolk so that he might work on the restoration of Arundel Castle. The duke agreed to engage him but Hiorne died before he could begin work.

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