Welcome to Northlands Lift Bridge where the Wey and Arun Junction Canal runs alongside the River Arun. Lift bridges are always interesting and this was the first to be installed by the Wey and Arun Canal Trust. In the days of the old canal there never was a bridge at this point but after the canal was closed, the farmer needed access across the canal and a low fixed bridge was constructed.
Newbridge and the busy A272 are just in sight to the south of us and standing here when the old canal was still working, we would hear the hustle and bustle of Newbridge Wharf. It was a large distribution point for both incoming cargos and outgoing, with timber and coal yards fed by the canal and with kilns for making lime for fertiliser. Billingshurst and surrounding villages looked to the wharf at Newbridge for delivery of their coal, groceries and other goods from London and Guildford and from bigger ships arriving in Arundel. Beside the wharf was the old Limeburners Arms for that well-earned pint at the end of a heavy day. The pub has now moved up the hill to Lordings Road but still serves a decent pint and a pie.
Restoration of the Canal
After the canal closed, tranquillity returned – and isn’t it lovely: meadows all around, the river meandering down to Arundel and the coast and the canal slowly being cleared and restored entirely by volunteers for the benefit of all of us.
This stretch was one of the first to be restored by the Wey and Arun Canal Trust in the late 1970s and in readiness for when the canal is reopened to boats the previous low fixed crossing had to be replaced (see picture below). Another fixed bridge but taller was ruled out because the river was too close to the canal to allow the necessary ramp. However, one of the Trust’s volunteers at the time had experience of building lift bridges on the Welsh canals. So a lift bridge it had to be – and after 50 years it is still doing sterling work!
The Trust is currently installing a couple more lift bridges up at Birtley in Surrey, a few miles south of Guildford. If you would like to be involved in similar restoration projects along the canal or if you would like to help maintain the paths alongside the canal, take a look at the volunteers page on the Wey and Arun Canal Trust web site at https://weyarun.org.uk/backdrop/volunteering
Flora and Fauna
Look out for herons flying over here and dragonflies and damselflies darting across the water. For flowers, look out for:
- In spring: Meadow Buttercups and Red Campion
- In summer: Crosswort and White Dead-nettle
- In autumn: Herb Robert and Hogweed.
Next info Posts
Heading south from here our next InfoPost is a couple of miles away at Lordings by the aqueduct and the awesome waterwheel, which the Trust has spent a lot of time and energy restoring. It’s worth a look and you may even see it working: look on the QR code there or on the Wey and Arun web site for running dates and times.
Heading north, the next infoPost is at Rowner Lock. It’s only about ½ a mile away but it’s a lovely walk sandwiched between canal and river.
A full list of Information Post locations can be found here.