Riverside fun in the South Downs

Some of the most valuable things in life are free, which includes having fun and making wonderful memories with riverside walks and adventures.

The South Downs are rightly famous for their stunning hills, cycle paths and some of Britain’s best-loved nature trails. However, there’s something really special about spending time near bodies of water. It has been shown to be a mood enhancer and a brilliant way to relax!

(source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/03/blue-space-living-near-water-good-secret-of-happiness#:~:text=White%20says%20spending%20time%20in,stress%2C%20than%20green%20space%20does.)

That’s certainly true if you walk along the River Rother, Cuckmere River, River Arun and lesser-known tributaries in the South Downs.

Children love to walk and play by the river, but please always keep an eye on them and choose paths and jetties that are established walkways.

Here are six free things to do in the South Downs when you’re along the riverside.

1. I Spy Nature

Make a list of ingenious birds and animals that live by the water, and then see how many you can spot on your walk. The Canal & River Trust offers free nature spotting guides too: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/nature-spotters-guides

2. Learn to fish!

There are country parks and trout fisheries in the area where you can be coached or simply sit back and wait for the fish to nibble!

3. Feed wildfowl

Children (and adults) love to feed the ducks! There’s an important footnote to this though as bread is not considered to be the healthiest option – for the birds or the water! The Canal & River Trust provides a free guide to duck food ideas: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-wildlife/keeping-our-ducks-healthy/duck-guide

4. Have a picnic

Talking of food, eating your lunch by the side of the river is one of the most relaxing ways to dine outdoors and there is always lots to see while you munch!

5. Explore river architecture and buildings

The rivers of the South Downs have played an important role in the past and you can see a number of ruins as well as some beautiful heritage bridges and other structures.

6. Riverside art

Being down by the river is a great inspiration for all sorts of arts and crafts. You could experiment with a camera, pack up some watercolour equipment to take with you or collect vegetation and other items to use for an art project later.

Lastly, keep an eye out for festivals and other events along the network of waterways that decorate the beautiful South Downs National Park.

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