Our summer hike from Ford railway station down the west bank of the River Arun to West Beach Dunes, the nature reserve facing Littlehampton in West Sussex. One of the few sunny days so far this summer, bright and warm although the agitated state of the sea is a reminder the weather remains unsettled. Few insects, plenty of ripe blackberries for trail snacks but also chest-high nettles and brambles.</p?
There’s plenty of history round here: the River Arun was navigable until the railways put coastal shipping out of business. Littlehampton has been a minor seaside resort exactly since the railway arrived. And Blue Peter 1 IRB was stationed at Littlehampton from 1965, the first inshore rescue lifeboat (IRB) sponsored by viewers of the BBC television programme.
West Beach was one of the beaches meant by Churchill (“We will fight them on the beaches”) and many fortifications remain from that era, along with a whiff of Walmington-on-Sea, the fictional setting of the TV series Dad’s Army. There’re also the ruins of the most recent Littlehampton Fort, its brick bastion was constructed in 1854 at the start of the Crimean War.