RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country Walk: Wey And Arun Canal, Loxwood

IF THE weather is hot this walk is a good place to be.

The Wey and Arun canal with its towpath provides a pleasant meander of about 3.5 miles (5.7kms).

Parking is near the Onslow Arms off the B2133 which runs north from the A272 between Wisborough Green and Billingshurst.

There are long boats painted black, green, red, and yellow on which you can cruise gently around the meanders instead of walking if that’s what you like.

This walk goes east along the towpath on the Wey-South Path, which runs on the south side of the canal.

Lines of ash trees give grace, space and shading over the duckweed-green surface.

Here and there, moorhens scuttle about, some of them half grown youngsters of the year.

It is hoped that one day this canal will be restored back to Guildford and then to the Thames and on into the rest of Britain’s 3,000 miles of waterways.

This is known as ‘London’s Lost Route to the Sea’.

You may have seen on recent TV journeys by celebrities along our waterways, this is a way of life that is exciting and yet restful, with endless chances to see the wildlife of the banksides and country beyond.

You pass a brick and stone bridge reopened in 1989 by Lord Egremont. 200 years ago his ancestor helped build this canal.

There are great spotted woodpeckers in some of the old trees, and the wayside flowers grow tall with whorled watermint, teasel, tansy, balsam, great pond sedge, and hedge vetch.

I heard one or two whitethroat warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcap warblers as well.

Eventually you reach the lane near Drungewick Farm, where there is a lock and aqueduct.

Turn right, and progress for about 500 yards SW to the bridleway sign that takes you to Malhamashfold Copse, a name derived from Old Norse mol meaning gravelly, and melr meaning sandy.

The path goes along an old rue of hazel and ash, bends left into Hookland Copse, in the centre of which is a right turn onto a footpath, leaving the bridleway, and now heading NW.

You enter Birch Copse, then zigzags around horse paddocks, dams, and the River Lox with its mill which is all picturesque.

Follow the footpath signs which bring you back onto the towpath.

Far back in Georgian times, the canal was used to transport gold bullion on the boats to London, guarded by the Redcoats.

You won’t need bullion to go on today’s boats.