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 Though the trading boats which the Saxons might have used have been replaced by skimming dinghies, it remains so to this day.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
Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Mostly Flat, National Trust, Pub, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
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