RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Chichester to Fishbourne

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Be warned: this is a dangerous walk. I did it last week but I am both nimble and cautious.

If you’re shakey on your pins, do not attempt.

You see, the public footpath crosses the race-track known as the A27. And this is the only way to make a circular walk for city dwellers to that exquisite shoreline with its myriads of swans, wild geese, curlews and many other wetland birds.

Of course, you can go by car to the Apuldram church carpark. But if you have no transport, you can’t.

If only a footbridge could be placed for you, over the A27. The alternative then is to use the Apuldram road only. Even that is

busy. Or just the north and west segments of my walk this week, only.

This is what I did. Starting from the cathedral, I used pavements round the inner ring road past the Technical College on the A259, on past the roundabout and left at the Westergate road into ‘South Coast Cycle Route’.

Cross the main railway line if the light is green, or find the way over by the new footbridge.

Continue west along the pavements and under the A27 by tunnel.

This brings you to the A259 where you look left for the green and white footpath sign to Fishbourne church. Willows and hartstongue ferns grow by the wayside as you come to St Peter and St Mary.

This is beautifully tended with lots of flowers inside, old oak pews, a magnificent oak eagle lectern, a 13th-century lancet window and lots of social activity going on.

Note the brass first world war roll of honour. Yellow corydalis grows outside the west door.

Footpath now crosses arable field to the seawall.There was once a saltmill at this channel head and on the old wall, now a grassy strip, hundreds of wading birds will cluster at high tide.

Redshank, grey plover, peewit, curlew, dunlin, snipe, black-tailed godwit and ringed plover are among the waders. Mute swan, one black swan, Brent geese, wigeon, mallard, teal, moorhen, coot, are among those now present for you to see.

As you walk on around the seawall and come to the outfall of the River Lavant, you may see little egret, heron, pintail and goldeneye duck, also great crested grebe and little grebe.

Many hundreds of black-headed gulls come into roost and there are also Mediterranean and common gulls that come in during the afternoon to drink and preen in the fresh water from the Fishbourne spring nearby.

The return is the way you came in, or if intrepid, northeast across the meadows following the Lavant with its dense hedgerows.

I saw a green sandpiper here, near the sewage works, last week.

Cross the Apuldram road and eventually this meadowland footpath comes to the bypass. I had to wait ten minutes to cross safely at the enormous road sign.

The scruffy little footpath through the industrial estate shows you how dirty many people are, just dropping their litter everywhere. Such a pity to see such squalor in our fair city and its incomparable surrounds.