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     In February 2014 I took advantage of a rare break in the appalling weather that had blighted much of the country. I struggled to think of many places that hadn't been flooded by the continual storms before hitting on the idea of exploring the floods themselves. From Eartham Wood in West Sussex I wandered up Stane Street to Bignor Hill and the high rise safety of the South Downs Way. I wanted to see the Arun Valley, in particular Amberley Wild Brooks. This area of wide open wetlands, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, has always been susceptible to floods. As I approached the drop from Houghton Hill the scene that greeted me was both awe-inspiring and disquieting. The whole river valley across my horizon was immersed in flood waters, including several popular footpaths. Somewhere below those murky waters was a National Trail, good luck to anyone attempting the South Downs Way through that!

     Seven months on and curiosity got the better of me, so on the 3rd August I returned to the same river valley along the same walk, only this time I was able to wander through Amberley Wild Brooks from north to south. By this stage of late summer 2014, not only had this landscape totally dried out, but it was in serious need of some rainfall. It amazed me to think that had I attempted these paths back in February the flood waters would have been lapping over my head. Yet there I was, kicking up dust from a parched footpath. It was fascinating to go back to the same spot in Amberley and photograph the transformation (below), but also to consider how in such a relatively short time one single area of our landscape can experience such weather extremes. On the lane to the west of Amberley at the foot of its Castle’s northern wall can be seen an intriguing little sign that told of a flood even worse than that of 2014. A squiggly line recorded what was said to be record flood levels on the 6th and 7th November 2000. Looking back, I remembered only too well that miserable autumn of 2000 and its subsequent storms and floods.


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