Canoe Days Out

Sussex - River Arun - Greatham Bridge to Pallingham Quay (& return)

This page was submitted by David and Rhoda Wilson (E-mail this submitter)
How to get there - Greatham Bridge is on a turning east off the A29 in Coldwaltham, south of Pulborough. Convenient layby east of bridge.

Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - Public footpath along river bank

General Description - A meandering section up to Pulborough, after which the river turns sharply to cut through the Greensand Ridge at Stopham. There are then hills on either side, and eventually the river narrows and becomes overgrown until it reaches the disused Pallingham Quay, where there was a lock on to the former Wey and Arun Canal.

The Arun is a strongly tidal river and you will enjoy it much more if you can use the flow to go up and the ebb to come back (or vice versa!). Tide timings are approximate, as away from the coast spring tides arrive earlier than neaps, run more strongly and reach further up. At extreme neaps, there may be no tide at all above Pulborough, and spring tides are necessary to reach Pallingham comfortably. The amount of fresh water flow may also suppress the tide.

To illustrate the problem of describing tides in rivers accurately; we have started downstream from Pallingham WITH the freshwater flow; met the tide coming upstream AGAINST us at Stopham; and arrived at Pulborough to find the tide ebbing and ourselves going WITH the current again, all in the space of an hour and a half!

Our recommendation for this section is to start at Greatham about two hours after high tide at Shoreham (on a different river, but the nearest reference port), go up to Pallingham, and take a break at the White Hart at Stopham on the way back (nice garden; land under the new road bridge and find the footpath which cuts down by the old bridge). Round trip, about 14 miles, but it should only feel like half of that if you get the tide right!

For a shorter trip, about half the distance, start at Pulborough. Parking just south of the old bridge (turn off the new section of A29 100 yd south of river), public slipway on north bank next to tea rooms. In this case, catch the tide about three hours or a little more after high tide at Shoreham.

The tidal section of the Arun is a public waterway - no licence needed.

Comments on this trip

Denise Bowes
29 Aug 2021
Note the left hand fork through the greensand ridge( the River Rother) has the delightful advantage that if you get out to wade it is sand between your toes, not mud. Not a lot of people know that.

Al Poodle
03 Aug 2021
We did a similar trip today (3.8.21) on the Arun. Put in on the public slipway at Pulborough and paddled down to Arundel.Was a little unsure from this thread and others Id read about tides, distances, speed of current. Was it too far, would we be able to exit the river at our planned destination. If anyone else is thinking the same, dont be perturbed. Its very do able.We did it on a touring stand up paddle board (me) and an inflatable Kayak (14 year old daughter). Both decent kit, but not race kayaks.High tide at Littlehampton was 7.46am bst. From various sources consensus seems to be Arundel is 50mins and Pulborough 3.50 to 4 hrs (ie 11.36 to 11.46 am ish).We calculated it might take us 45 hours if we really timed it to get sucked by tide. Concern though was that if it took longer and/or we couldnt land at Arundel and had to go on to Littlehampton, then we might be fighting the next incoming tide at the bottom of the river.We opted to put in an hour and a half before high tide at Pukborough (calculating that this far up anf tidal flow in the last hour and a half would be slight and mitigated or cancelled out by the natural flow of the river (especially as there has been plenty of rain the past week).We got dropped off. Put in on the public slipway in Pulborough was easy (drop off space only no parking). We were reassured given the local kayak school were also milling about and were also about to put in. We set off just before 10.15am. Despite being 1.5 hrs before high tide the current was flowing gently with us.We made Greatham Bridge at 11.15.and haughton bridge at 12.30. Current still with us but really still surprisingly quite gentle. There really are hardly any stopping points banks mostly reeds. We rafted up by tethering ourselves to an overhanging Willow and had lunch afloat. It wasnt until we almost got into Arundel and the river narrowed that the current got a bit racy. The public pontoon is spacious though. Located just after the first arched bridge as you enter, on the right (when heading down stream). Advice would be get right early and be well prepared to stop you sure dont want to be swept by as getting back would be a huge struggle (at the time/tide we arrived).We landed a smidge before 2.30pm take off the break and call it bang on 4 hours paddling (and we really did paddle non stop).Was a very pretty ride. Longish and we were ready for a break when we got to Arundel, but its really a very doable and hugely worthwhile trip.

18 Jul 2020
Thanks for the route; did it today in my new kayak first time in 30 years. Pallingham very challenging as the very end was very shallow and fast flowing against had to wade some of it but fine comin back down. Shame the pub was shut it was a long walk to find a shop in Pulborough

Tojo Melville
19 Jun 2020
What are the little bridges over the river they are not footbridges or road bridges. They have inspection hatches on them

Phil and Verna
30 Jun 2015
Did this yesterday, north from Pulborough. Easy put in, very quiet easy paddle, ideal for us newbees. Tea shop was open as well.

01 Nov 2014
As part of a long distance kayak run I am planning next year, I would appreciate any local knowledge of the Arun from Pallingham to Littlehampton. How long would it take roughly (depends on tides I guess but assume a mean speed) and would you say it was a safe waterway south of Arundel Thanks.

Brian Silk
18 Aug 2011
Only my second trip on my kayak (first was on the sea). This was a short trip to get used to stuff for me and my son. Launched at the cafe/antique shop in Pulborough and took an easy run up to Stopham Bridge and back. This was a really nice trip, very peaceful. Took us about one and a half hours, very leisurely paddling. Narrow in parts and had to 'get off' and move a log, but no problems. Easy launch, if a bit slippery, and landing. Car park south of the bridge.

Phil n Fuzz
25 May 2009
Lovely trip. Very enjoyable. Worth taking the fork before Pulborough for an alternative (narrow) paddle.


Pulborough Brooks (RSPB)
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The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson