RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Shoreham-by-Sea

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I have enjoyed this three-mile (5kms) walk now and then over the past half-century, but never written it up for the paper, so here goes.

The easy way to do it is to catch the train anywhere along the south coast route to Shoreham and start the walk as soon as you get off the train, cross the track and wander south into the pedestrian shopping centre with its pleasant little shops and street cafes.

By car you would have to find your way around the spaghetti junction off the A27, drive down the A283, turn right over Norfolk Bridge, left at the roundabout and back to the car park by the tidal backwater of the Adur at TQ211047.

From the railway station you pass St Mary de Haura which looks like Boxgrove with its flying buttresses, and which has excited a great deal of scholarship over the years as to the identity of the designer of its extraordinarily complicated interior which attempts to harmonise Norman and Gothic in a mass of personalised detail.

Maritime history follows this grand puzzle when you cross the Adur by way of its new glass and stainless steel footbridge and turn right to follow the edge of the mudflats westward.

After the last war, people came to live in houseboats along the southern edge of Shoreham Harbour.

All kinds of old tubs were moored up and they are still there.

They make a fascinating collection of barges, coasters, yachts, and even an historic MTB and a minesweeper, with history displayed on makeshift panels.

These boats go up and down in the tide and have made mud wallows for themselves beneath.

That blue-grey maritime succulent, sea purslane, grows between the boats.

The footpath itself is lined with bristly oxtongue, sea rye grass, and fennel which has tall green stems and yellow umbels of flowers.

In the creek I saw, last week, lapwings, mute swans, a redshank or two, and some mallard.

I crossed the A259 and then passed under the main railway line, and so up the footpath along the seawall to the toll bridge, known as Old Shoreham Bridge. What a bottleneck that used to be before the bypass was built.

I have spent happy hours on this seawall in the past, enjoying the salty air and the maritime plants and watching whatever waders and ducks pass by.

It is a good place at this time of year for the rare common sandpiper, for instance, which lingers along the lower tidal reaches of our Sussex rivers before travelling onwards to Africa. It is also the place for snipe and purple sandpipers.

I generally retrace my steps back along the Adur. But to make a round walk, a footway will be found down the east side of the estuary part of which is the old disused railway line that once went to Bramber and then through the streets to Shoreham railway station.