A Walk around Yapton Parish

The Parish of Yapton embraces the village of Yapton and hamlets of Bilsham and Flansham. Many of us use a motor car to travel to the towns of Bognor, Littlehampton and Chichester where a greater selection of shops, supermarkets and facilities are available. We therefore only see Yapton as an urban area and miss the more rural aspects of the Parish.

Having lived in the village of Yapton for twenty one years l decided some five years ago to improve my general health by improving my exercise regime. Walks around the Parish revealed just how rural the landscape is even with all the housing that has been built within the last fifty years. For most of us a half mile walk will take you into open countryside mainly used for agricultural purposes to grow potatoes, salad crops, wheat, barley, and corn on the cob. Soil quality is excellent on the coastal plain and a lot of land is designated 'grade one' agricultural by DEFRA so is of great importance for the production of food.

l have devised a five and a half mile walk embracing part of the Parish and the history of the area in the form of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal. In its short thirty year life it passed through the village of Yapton leaving in place to this day many signs of the former route.


Starting at the village hall and crossing Main Road the B2233 using the pedestrian lights turn right and walk in the direction of Barnham until you reach Canal Road. Turning left walk a few yards down the road and turn right into the Pines after carefully crossing Canal Road. As you walk down the road you are on the alignment of the old canal and you will get your first sight of an excellently preserved bridge (A) which crossed the canal. On the left side of the bridge is a staircase which you climb to reach a path that crosses the bridge. Turn left and walk down towards Tack Lee Road which you cross and continue down a fairly wide path located between houses.

Point A - Canal Bridge, The Pines

ln a short while you will find yourself beside a field and you follow this path for around a quarter of a mile. Eventually you turn right and head west to Drove Lane which you will join after about two hundred yards. At this point turn left and walk down the lane past Drove Lane farm (B). Further on you will pass a galvanised metal gate which is sometimes closed across the road but which you can still negotiate on the left hand side. The road is now bordered on the right by a hedge for a while. Behind the hedge is a newly constructed solar farm which came into operation at the beginning of September.

Where Drove Lane ends you will see directly in front of you a galvanised metal kissing gate which got the name from the story of a man walking with his lady friend and after passing through first, held the gate shut demanding a kiss before permitting the lady to pass through. Pass through the gate and walk down the side of a field with a fairly deep ditch on your right. After a short while a footpath goes off to the left and this eventually takes you through the fields to Bilsham. ln the winter I have observed a Scandinavian white tailed owl carrying a fully grown rabbit with its claws at this point.

You will now see the timber Weststone bridge (C) ahead over which you cross Ryebank Rife. You then pass through another galvanised metal kissing gate entering a field.The field may sometimes be occupied by a herd of cows and you are advised to ensure if you have a dog with you it is put back on its lead. After walking across the field you enter another one and in the left hand corner you will see a metal gate which is sometimes closed. lf this is the case you need to negotiate your first stile.

Point C - Weststone bridge

Beyond this the path becomes a track for a short distance until you reach another galvanised metal gate leading to another field. You will need to enter the field using a wooden stile which you need to negotiate carefully because of the different levels on either side of the gate. Cross the field which can also contain cattle and head towards another gate which you can pass on the right hand side. A little while further on you will come to another galvanised metal gate and after crossing a wooden stile you join Hoe Lane (D) in Flansham.

After two miles of walking south you now turn right and follow the lane to the west. The tarmac road changes to a well consolidated track until you reach Hoe Farm (E). From here a well compacted track will take you to Barnham. This track is shared with cycles so for your own safety always be aware there are cycles around. If you look to the south west just before the track changes to a northerly direction you will see the new viaduct under construction which will carry the Bognor Relief road. The 30.3 metre beams that form the deck of the viaduct are being delivered by road every Monday and Wednesday from Liverpool. As you head north you pass under some electricity cables which cross the path at right angles. A  clump of trees in the middle of the field is a home to a colony of herons which if you are lucky you may be able to see. At one time they used to co-exist with some egrets. A little further on you cross over a rife (F) and head north east alongside the rife for around half a mile. Good views of the downs and Barnham church can be obtained across the fields at this point and it is an area frequented by kites as they use the air currents to circle for prey. You are in Barnham Parish at this point and across the rife is Yapton the solar panels you observed earlier come close to the rife.

Changing direction and turning to the North West you soon reach Hollingsworth swing bridge (G) currently being restored as you join the old canal. To the right a footpath sign pointing east takes you through a wooden gate and along the towpath beside the formation of the old canal. On reaching a wooden kissing gate which can be negotiated without using the gate, a footpath goes off to the left. A few yards up the path on the left you can see the stone ring the Leys Lane swing bridge (H) used to rotate on. Return to the path you left at the gate and head east to a wooden stile. The canal formation is quite visible at this point. You may encounter sheep after crossing the stile so once again if you have a dog please put it back on its lead.

Point G - Hollingsworth swing bridge

A short while further on cross another wooden stile followed very quickly by a short staircase and another stile. On your left is Tile Barn farm and as you walk past it you may be lucky to see some old agricultural ploughs. The canal formation is not visible at this point although you are walking along its alignment. Shortly beyond the farm a footpath goes north towards Barnham windmill which is visible to the north. lf you look carefully by a small bush on your left you will see another stone ring (J) on which the Tile Barn swing bridge used to rotate. Retuning to the path. head east towards Yapton. The path rises and you will come across a metal stile in a thicket which can be negotiated without using the stile. After passing this the canal and towpath are quite obvious.

A bit further on at Denges Barn (K) the canal has been breached to give easier access for farming machinery. Here you will drop down and almost immediately climb back up on the other side.The canal bed is not a right of way so you should return to the former towpath. As you reach a line of trees you will need to negotiate a metal gate if open, or a wooden stile. Shortly afterwards go through a galvanised metal kissing gate and you will find yourself on Drove Lane (L). Cross the road and follow the footpath on the other side keeping a hedge on your left side. After a quarter of a mile you reach the old canal bridge (A) and the route you left a few miles earlier.

Point K - Canal near Denges Barn

The end beckons and after crossing the path and going down the stairs alongside the east side of the bridge, walk east along the Pines turning left into Canal Road and then right on to Main Road. Please use the pedestrian crossing to reach the village hall where you started the walk. You will have walked around five and a half miles and hopefully discovered some of the delights of the Parish and its history.

l always take plenty of water and an Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 map with me when l walk. The map helps you if you need a little guidance and it is always useful for understanding what is around you and what is nearby. Arundel and Pulborough Map 121 which costs £7.99 is obtainable from a good bookshop or outdoor equipment shop and covers the whole of this walk and will perhaps give you further ideas for walking.

Andy Faulkner
October 2014

(Originally published in Yapton News, November 2014)

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