Wildfowl and water
This walk follows the “Osprey Trail” around the modern Arlington Reservoir and wildlife sanctuary. The elevated nature of the reservoir and its surrounds offers excellent views over the Low Weald towards the South Downs.
LENGTH – 2 miles
TIME – 1 hours
START – Arlington Reservoir Car Park, Station Road, Berwick, BN26 6TF.
PARKING – Arlington Reservoir Car Park (pay and display).
TOILETS – Arlington Reservoir Car Park
REFRESHMENTS – Pub at Arlington (½ mile off route) and seasonal café at Arlington Reservoir Car Park.
CAUTION – The walk is adjacent to deep water.
This walk contains stiles.
The excavation of the land for the reservoir had unexpected consequences in revealing evidence of the Ice Age in Sussex about 250,000 years ago. Although glaciers did not reach this far south, the land would have “enjoyed” a tundra like climate with the ground frozen for much of the year. The works revealed evidence of animals which are now extinct roaming the landscape such as bison, woolly rhinoceroses and mammoths.
This part of the walk crosses the 0.6 mile (1 kilometre) long dam and reveals how the reservoir works. Water is pumped from the River Cuckmere to the east during winter when river levels are high and then held in the 770 million (3,500 million) litre capacity reservoir to be used throughout the year. The pumps are housed in the concrete tower.
Between 1969 and 1971 bulldozers created the 120 acre reservoir. The River Cuckmere was straightened by cutting off a long meander with the concrete-faced, earth-core dam. The main reason for locating the reservoir at this point in Sussex was that the clay ground made an excellent, natural, watertight base for the reservoir without the necessity of having to construct such a base specially. The reservoir has also become a nature reserve. It is particularly famed for its bird life, with up to 170 species breeding in the area and 10,000 migrating birds using it each year.
The Romans had previously made good use of this same clay by constructing a pottery with kilns and workshops in the area now occupied by the reservoir. This was halfway between and served a small Roman town sited along the east-west road Farne Street, which crossed the Cuckmere just south of the modern waterworks and another settlement at Wick Street to the north of the reservoir. The modern word “Wick” is from the Latin “vicus” – a small settlement.
Why not try these other walks nearby…
This walk looks at an area of the Cuckmere Valley which was used, by the monks of Michelham Priory for hunting and fishing, perhaps surprisingly as they should have been devoting time to their prayers.
When the Normans landed in England about 110 people lived in the village of Exceat in small houses next to a church overlooking the River Cuckmere. In 1428 the same village comprised “Henry Chesman et non plures” (and no others). What had gone wrong? A walk of five miles takes in landscapes of woodland, downland, sea cliffs, estuary and river to answer this question.