Chichester Harbour: Itchenor - East Head - West Wittering

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The Saxons named the village at the start of this walk Itchenor, meaning 'a landing place'. Though the trading boats which the Saxons might have used have been replaced by skimming dinghies, it remains so to this day. You'll pass boatyards, marine chandlers and the harbour office as you pass down the road towards the harbour edge where, on a summer Saturday, there'll be the clatter and chink of many masts and sheets (the nautical term, I believe!) and a flurry of activity.

Once you turn west however and begin to skirt the shoreline of the Itchenor Reach, all that is left behind. Here there is peace! The long fingers of Chichester Harbour were formed by the drowning of river valleys, way back after the Ice Age. Though it's difficult to believe now, as you wander its edge, accompanied only by the hush of the reeds and the calling of seabirds, it was in the 13th Century a busy place, importing and exporting wool and later, cereals and grain. It is now a conservation area with a number of natural habitats. On Chalkdock Marsh, you may see sea campion and sea beet in summer, as well as shelduck. Many wading birds inhabit the area and winter is a particularly good time for spotting these. There is an area of mixed woodland, with its own particular variety of birdlife.

At Waymark 6 there is an option to extend the walk by about a mile, returning by the same route to this point. If you have children with you, you have the perfect excuse to bring along your crab net (or maybe just a piece of string and a morsel of bait), to dabble in a special crabbing pool! East Head, owned by the National Trust, is a constantly shifting sand spit harbouring myriad wildflowers and is worth exploring. There is also an area of car parking, bordering a sandy beach, in which there are toilets and often an ice cream van. Exercise care when bathing and observe warning flags).

Return to the walk proper for a complete change of environment, but not before visiting the church whose walls were once used to hold iron rings, to which fishermen fastened their boats – apparently! After admiring the jolly hats and bucket and spade ensembles which hang from the 'seasidey' shops in West Wittering's main street, you enter quieter realms again as you amble along lanes and paths back to Itchenor, emerging close to St Nicholas' Church, which has its origins back in the 12th Century, before turning back down the road to your car.

England - South England - West Sussex - Coast

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Mostly Flat, National Trust, Pub, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
17/11/2014 - Andy McTaggart

Many Thanks to Alison for introducing us to this stunning area within Chichester harbour.

16/11/2014 - Alison Gilbert

If you are happy to retrace your steps over the first part of the walk, this is a good option, Andy. And, of course, if you want to keep to the shorter distance, you can simply approach Ella Nore Lane from just beyond point 9 before reaching the B2179.

10/11/2014 - Andy McTaggart

We have tweeked this one around a bit and walk all the way along the coast, out and right round East head and along the coast facing the open sea until you reach the exit road from west Wittering car parks. Stick to the pavement up to the main junction and simply make your way across the road to the entrance of Eleanor Lane. This takes you back to way mark five and you simply re trace your steps back to the car park. In doing this we eliminated the majority of the road walking and extended the walk to approx ten miles. There are huge contrasts to enjoy in ever changing weather conditions, the season and time of year and time of day and as the tide goes out a vast array of bird life gathers on the mud flats to feed. A super day out with much to see and which keeps my camera merrily clicking away.

01/05/2011 - Helena Pugsley

First half of the walk by the water is really nice, but the second half had a bit too much on road. Even the parts through countryside weren't very interesting. I'd do the water part again, but maybe walk back the same way. Car park is £3 for 2-4 hours or £3.50 for up to 24 hours. We did the walk in an easy 2 hours 15 minutes.

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