Wittersham and the River Rother

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You may be surprised to hear that you will be visiting an island on this walk! It is the land-locked Isle of Oxney. Thus, you begin by walking along the flat lands of the lower Rother, which would once have been covered by sea, before ascending gently the ancient cliff line towards what is now the village of Wittersham. You will have a useful overview of the Levels on your return descent to the walk start.

Following the riverbank in early summer can be slow-going through a variety of long waving grasses, but your reward for this is in the opportunity to appreciate a landscape rich in glimpses of the natural life of the river. You may hear the whirr of a swan's flight as it descends to skim the water towards its mate, or witness the mesmerising stillness of a waiting heron. Swallows swoop; skylarks spiral above; and the presence of barn owl boxes on high posts suggests the possibility of a nest. If you are extremely lucky, you may spot a kingfisher: almost certainly you will hear the strange gutteral song of the marsh frog, a species introduced to a garden pond on Oxney in the 1930s which has declined to leave.

As you approach the 'island', taking advantage of two long-distance paths, Sussex Border Path and the High Weald Landscape Trail, the landscape changes to one of small grazed fields and orchards. This is a taste of England as it used to be. Wittersham Village has a church, a village shop, a rather untraditional pub and on its outskirts, a windmill. Along with this are many pretty cottages if you care to explore further before returning to the route.

Do spend a moment or two, as you descend through fields, to pause at Point 12 for a view of the levels. Though it appears wild and open, it is in fact a man-made landscape, created by building banks and digging ditches, (known as sewers, but not the sort you may be used to!), as the sea retreated and the Rother silted up. The network of drainage devices provided for fertile, reclaimed grazing and crop land. You will walk alongside a 'sewer' as you return. At the right time of year there are bright scarlet poppies and brassy yellow water iris to cheer your way!

England - South England - Kent - Countryside


Birds, Butterflies, Church, Great Views, Public Transport, River, Wildlife

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1.2 Miles