Seaford to Eastbourne

12th March 2016

Seaford to Eastbourne – 20.72 km (12.87 miles)

A day of ups and downs it was and certainly the toughest part of the coastal walk so far, they call it the Seven Sisters but i’m sure i went up and down a lot more hills than that.

The day started in Seaford and we was to be a little delayed in setting off as just as i had got out the car and onto the promenade a little old lady called Jean fell over in front of me, i rushed over to help pick her up only to find out that she had a lot of pain in her hip and wasn’t able to get up, another couple had also stopped to help, so i decided to call an ambulance and ended up waiting about 45 minutes for it, shortly after arrival they started to deal with her so at that point i left them to it and set off.

P1040956

The first of many hills was Seaford head a climb of 80m, not a massive climb but quite steep and tested the knees straight away. At the top the beauty of the days walk was to become apparent, we were leaving the flat coast of Seaford behind and entering a dramatic landscape of undulating chalk cliffs.

Dropping down from Seaford Head took us into Cuckmere Haven, the estuary of the River Cuckmere, this meant that we were going to have an inland walk of about 1.5km to cross at the road bridge. The path that led us inland was quite muddy which meant a lot of slip sliding about. On reaching the road we crossed over to the Seven Sisters Countryside Centre which had details of the area and local walks, there was also coach loads of tourists too all walking down the beach trail path to the sea, so from here the rest of the trek was not to be alone as there would always be others walking to or from the same direction. It was probably the glorious weather that tempted everyone out as although it was a little hazy it was blue skies all round.

From Cuckmere Haven i followed the South Downs way back up to the cliff tops and started on tackling the Seven Sisters, a series of hills that have been cut in half with rolling downs one side and sheer drops on the other. There seemed to be more than seven hills and after many ups and downs and testing of the knees we dropped down into Birling Gap

Billing Gap has for a long time now been one of my favourite spots as it can be so peaceful, but today it was absolutely packed with people. It also gives you some fantastic views back towards the Seven Sisters. The coastguard cottages built here have been used in many films Birling gap is also subject to a great deal of coastal erosion as currently there are only a few cottages left compared to 1905 when there was four more. Now for me a decision needs to be made, Do i turn inland to East Dean and catch the bus or do i head on over Beachy Head to Eastbourne, the latter would be the choice, so uphill i set off once again.

The hills up to Beachy Head are higher but not so steep as the Seven Sisters. It was a more gradual climb out of Birling Gap up towards the ‘Belle Tout’ Lighthouse, now disused and converted into a luxury bed and breakfast, the light house was moved back 17m in 1999 as it was becoming to close to the crumbling edge, the whole building was raised up and put on rails to gradually move it back. A little further on we were then able to see ‘Trinity House’ the current Beachy Head Lighthouse that stands prominently in the sea at the base of the cliffs. This lighthouse has been manned for 80 years and since 1983 has been totally automated. The walk continued upwards to Beachy Head itself which stands at 164m above sea level, the highest point of the day, there is another visitor centre here and lots of tourists wandering around and some very close to the edge. From here it is to be downhill all the way into Eastbourne which i thought might be easy, but this was even more of a killer on the legs as the first bit following the south downs way was really steep. On the descent we were to get our first glimpses of Eastbourne and the pier in the far distant, the goal was in site. The end of the South Downs Way and ultimately the South Downs came abruptly to a road which was to lead us into the town, we dropped down off the road onto the Western Parade promenade. The promenade walk took us past another Martello Tower and the bandstand, that claims to be the most used in the UK, i must admit that it was quite impressive and just past this was the pier, looking good and fully open albeit with a building missing following the fire that it suffered in 2014.

The bus stop was right outside the pier and after a ten minute wait i got on the number 12 that would take me back to Seaford. It stopped in the town centre and i’m sure every foreign student in Eastbourne got on and then at Exceat loads more foreign students got on, now i was beginning to panic as i was right at the back with a dog and rucksack and needed to get off soon…….doh.

Back in Seaford i was really pleased with myself regarding the achievement today and overall, it was great to see a beautiful sunset over the English Channel. Now home and to the pub.

P1050010

Brighton to Seaford

17th October 2015

Brighton to Seaford – 23.3km (14.5 miles)

……..and the trek goes on……..!

Originally the idea of the pier to pier trek was to be from Bournemouth to Brighton, but now I’ve got to Brighton I’ve thought why stop here when England has such beautiful and varied coastline, so let’s carry on and take one pier at a time.

Brighton Pier this morning is not yet as busy with tourists as it was when I finished the last leg but seems to be more joggers and fitness walkers. From the pier I head east with cookie along Madeira Drive, the lower road that runs alongside Volks railway. A railway that is the longest running in the world since 1883.

The promenade along here houses the Brighton wheel and lots of recreational and sports facilities. At the furthest end towards the east of the promenade there is an area set aside for naturists.

As the promenade ends the pebbly beaches give way to tall white cliffs that have a marina built in front of them. The marina has been here since 1978 and following development over the years now contains 1600 berths, residential properties, retail outlets, restaurants, bars, bowling alley, cinema and gym

The marina is sheltered from the land by some very high chalk cliffs at the base of which has a long concrete path, that goes all the way to Saltdean. Which you would think would be the easiest part, but this bit I struggled with the most during the day as the sun was really warm and the path very long and unchanging.

The concrete path continued a little way past Saltdean but did not go anywhere and stopped at a large outcrop of chalk cliff. The walk from here is now to be along the top of the cliffs which is changing the whole scenery of the day. Lunch was had on a windy bench just outside Saltdean after tackling the first significant hill, i think that must have sapped my energy.

After lunch the trek took me along the top of the cliffs from Saldean to Peacehaven mainly past residential properties, however at Peacehaven we were to achieve another massive milestone and that was to cross from the worlds western hemisphere to the eastern hemisphere as we passed by 0 deg longitude or the ‘Greenwich Meridian’, a memorial marks the exact spot of the 0 deg line.

After walking past a few more streets of houses we were on to Peacehaven & Harbour Heights an open expanse of land between here and Newhaven, this would be the remotest that we would get today and quite nice to get away from urbanisation. Cookie was put back on the lead as there was quite a cliff drop here. At the top of Harbour Heights was a coastguard lookout and Newhaven Fort, you can understand why they are both here as it is such a vantage point looking out to sea and protecting the harbour. The fort has been overlooking the area since 1871 when it was built and was the largest fortification built in Sussex, it is now a museum open to the public.

As we descend down from the fort we enter into Newhaven a harbour town with a cross channel ferry port and back to flat walking for the rest of the day. We follow the River Ouse up to the swing bridge as this is the only crossing point and back down the other side to the coast again. As we leave the estuary some large ships are coming in to harbour, from where we are standing it looks like they are travelling across the land as we can’t quite see the river.

It was a pebbly walk from here for a few kilometres until we reached the foreshore and promenade of Seaford. Seaford like Bognor Regis used to have a sandy beach but pebbles were dredged up and put on the beach for sea defences, every year these stones are moved eastwards along the coast by the tide and it’s currents, so they have to be picked up and put back by the most gigantic trucks. It’ll be a never ending job as nature will always get it’s way.

We walked along the promenade at Seaford and was to finish our day at the Martello Tower. These towers were built to protect our coastline during the Napoleonic war and this was the most westerly tower that was built. It now houses a museum.

P1040563

Goring by Sea to Brighton

3rd October 2015

Goring by Sea to Brighton – 22.5km (14 miles)

This is hike number 15 and is going to be the last stretch of the Bournemouth Pier to Brighton Pier trek. The day starts by being dropped off by Susan at Worthing Sailing Club, she is picking up Verity and going shopping for the day in Brighton, so we’ll meet up with them at the pier later. I am with two dogs today that are really eager to get walking, Kiah is accompanying Cookie. I walked up to the promenade and was really pleased to see that the tide was right out, so i let the dogs off their leads, Kiah darted straight off and down the beach and Cookie just ambled behind me.

image    image

We walked along the sands for the first six kilometres until the sand had run out and became pebbles and breakwaters. Walking on the sand meant that i didn’t see much of the foreshore part of the town, but this gave a different perspective and was much much quieter. For some reason it seems that you cover more ground quicker, but still cover the same distance. As we were walking on the beach we then passed under the Pier, looking at the seaweed clad struts that hold it up rather than walking past the more graceful promenade entrance. It was at Lancing that we eventually had to venture back up to the coastal path; which we followed for a short way to wide water lagoon where we stopped for lunch.

image   image

image

As usual there were to be many contrasts during the day as we started off by walking on the sands at a seaside resort and the next several kilometers were to be completely different and very industrious. So after lunch we walked along the last bit of promenade before reaching the residential area of Shoreham Beach and meeting the River Adur. We crossed on the Ferry Adur Bridge and entered the town of Shoreham, the sun was now shining and as we walked up East Street all the cafes and restaurants had tables out in the street, you could have thought you were on the continent in some french town. The busker in the street along with the cosmopolitan feel of lots of people eating and drinking outside gave it a really vibrant atmosphere here.

image    image

image

As we were leaving Shoreham the area around us had become very comercialised and industrious, on one side of the road was superstores and garages and on the other was the harbour mouth that has been here since roman times but now has scrap metal merchants and gravel yards, not the nicest part of the walk. After a short while we reached the lighthouse; which is known as Kingston Buci or Shoreham lighthouse. This lighthouse dates back to 1842 and was lit initially by oil lamps. The lifeboat station stands prominantly on this part of the harbour too as the mouth of the Adur is directly in front with Shoreham Canal to the East and the River Adur to the West.

image

I followed the harbour on the north side for a little bit further until i reached the lock gates that were built in 1855. These gate are to enable the shoreham canal to remain full at low tide, keeping ships afloat in the harbour. The lock is the biggest that i have ever seen as it is sized such that it can hold a ship, the lock can be crossed by foot and on the other side of the canal you came up to a promenade once again; which funnily enough is also the end of the Monarchs way, a long distance footpath that starts in Worcester and marks the route that was taken by King Charles II as he escaped the Battle of Worcester, the path is 615 miles long so perhaps i’ll walk that one another day!! The promenade was short lived and i had to then drop down to the path on Basin Road South, which was behind a big wall and seemed to go on for ages and ages. I was so pleased when i reached the lagoon at Hove’s Western Lawns as i knew from here it would be a completely different scene, from the deserted Basin Road South to the bustling promenade of this popular resort.

image    image

Literally in a few steps we was out of the comercial harbour and in to the exclusive resort of Hove with it’s very civilised foreshore of public lawns and lagoon; which was very busy with people learning to paddle board and wakeboard. The promenade here was now very busy and as i passed Hove Lawns people were boxing, playing with rugby balls, attending weddings as a party walked past me and just watching the world go by from their beach huts. I let Susan know that i would be finishing in about half an hour as she must be nearing her shopping by now too. We continued along the promenade and i’m sure it ws getting even busier as Hove merges into Brighton, i couldn’t believe that amongst all the people that i bumped into Sharon, we had a quick chat and then went our opposite ways.

image    image

We are in Brighton now and the last part of the walk takes us past the new i360 tower that is being built and then past the arches on the lower path of Brighton Seafront. The cafes, bars and shops were teeming with people here, listening to the DJ’s and live bands that were playing. I was certainly thinking that it would be great to have a pint here, however i would save myself until i got to the pier, where i would crack open a bottle of Prosecco and have some fish and chips.

image    image

I reached the pier in about the half an hour that i estimated and had a good look amongst the crowds to see if i could see Susan and Verity, but i had beaten them there, so i waited patiently for them. About 45 minutes later they turned up with bags of shopping and promptly said that we need to go and pick up more that they had left in some shops, so the perfect end to the walk of celebrating the 176 miles travelled on foot from Bournemouth Pier to here with a glasss of prosecco and fish and chips ended up in carrying shopping bags through the town to the shops to pick up more. Laden with a rucksack, two dogs and loads of Verity’s shopping bags i somehow was not going back to the beach now and so we just caught the over crowded train back (football had been on). In my mind i had decided that if i couldnt have fish and chips here then i wouldnt be having them anywhere else tonight.

image    image

So after 283 km (176 miles) i have reached Brighton Pier. The changing coastal scenery between Bournemouth to here has been absolutely amazing, but ultimately started and finished at very popular seaside resorts. I had been on numurous buses and trains, getting to and from the start/finish points and also on five ferries of varying size that would get us across the many river estuaries. What a fantastic coastline walk in the sunniest part of the country. What am i going to do now?

image    image

To be continued……………

Felpham to Goring by Sea

25th September 2015

Felpham to Goring by Sea – 21km (13.05 miles)

Today I am to be joined by Verity who wants to see how long it would take for her to walk to Conor’s house from ours, not sure the full reason why she wants to see how long it takes but it is great to have some company of the two legged kind nonetheless. The day started by walking out of our front door rather than having to travel anywhere, it almost felt that i had forgotten something. Shortly after leaving and while we were still on our estate i heard this loud calling of “Ding, Ding” from behind, i couldn’t believe it but my brother Paul and his wife Bev came whizzing up behind us on their bikes, how random is that! They had decided to seek some sun so had ventured south from Scotland. Verity asked if they had cycled all the way and this was going to be the start of her sayings for the day.

We got to the seafront at the end of Fourth Avenue on the Summerley Estate, which is where I left off last time. The tide was high, the sky was as blue as it could be and there was a slight breeze, what a perfect day for trekking.

image   image

We headed East and it wasn’t long before the promenade finished and was replaced by the grassy greenswards at Middleton on Sea and then by the pebbles at Elmer. Elmer was always subject to flooding and some time ago they made some rock islands which would break up the waves before they could pound on the shoreline, they have certainly worked as Elmer has not flooded since. The islands have changed the coast along here as you now have massive expanses of sand behind them that can be seen when the tide is out, these are formed by the new currents that swirl around this part of the coast now.

image

Just past the Elmer beaches the path got a bit more firm under foot for a short while until we neared climping car park, this is an area where many day visitors can park up, have BBQs and play games on the grassy car park, the beach here is quite stoney with only a little bit of sand at very low tide. The car park also has a cafe and some toilets, but no other facilities. The sun was shining very brightly by now and it was also nearing midday, Verity had her cool shades (sunglasses) on and proceeded to tell me that whenever she wears her sun glasses she says that she can’t hear properly……really!!

image    image

From here until Littlehampton we are to walk past the last remaining undeveloped piece of coastline between Bognor Regis and Brighton called the ‘Climping Gap’ which is a beautifully secluded Site of Special Scientific Interest, with incredible sand dunes (one of only three in West Sussex) that are home to rare and protected wildlife. It also forms part of Littlehamptons West Beach where we joined a short board walk through the dunes, past Littlehampton Fort and to the western edge of the River Arun estuary.

image    image

From West Beach there are two ways that you can get to the town of Littlehampton and that is either by ferry that only runs through the summer months or head further inland and cross the retracting footbridge, unfortunately for us the ferry had only just finished for the season, so we had to walk further inland to cross on the bridge. Once on the other side of the River Arun we headed back to the seafront along the newly refurbished waterfront walkway, passing the Blue Peter 1 lifeboat, Look and Sea Centre, the many day trippers sitting opposite the chip shops eating their fish and chips and the youngsters were crabbing over the harbour wall, with buckets full of the crustaceans.

image    image

image    image

Back at the seafront the we joined the promenade that passes by the amusement park with its small roller coasters and log flumes. On this promenade it also has the longest bench in Britain which winds itself along the wall and under shelters where it goes a bit wild, not sure you could really call it a bench here but it is certainly one long length and doesn’t break. At East Beach you’ll find a cafe that has won many awards for it’s archetectral design, it’s supposed to represent a piece of driftwood, which it looks like but i have heard many different local representations. We stopped here for a well promised ice cream, so i had a 99 flake and Verity had a caramel milkshake (with ice cream in).

Heading Eastwards from here we followed the promenade past the rest of Littlehampton and Rustington where it finished and went back to pebbly beaches again, from the busy beaches of Littlehampton, we are now seeing less and less people. We decided that from here we would go down and walk on the sand as walking on pebbles seems to feel like you are walking twice as far. Walking on the sands and small rocks took us past some exclusive residences of Angmering, East Preston and Kingston.

image    image

At Goring Gap we headed back up to the foreshore and walked along the grassy path that divides the greensward and the beach, before long we were at the Sea Lane Cafe; which meant that we would soon be nearing the end of our trek for the day. We continued past the beach huts and fish merchants until we got to Worthing Sailing Club; which was to be the official finish for the day. But we needed to head for the station so we decided not to go on to Conor’s but to knock at Matthew and Gemma’s to see if anyone was in, but unfortunately nobody answered, to the station it is then……….

image    image

image    image

Sidlesham to Felpham

11th September 2015

Sidlesham to Felpham – 15.5 km (9.6 miles)

The good thing about this trek is that occasionally i am joined by someone else and today my good friend Paul King will be walking this section with me. He had dug out his rucksack which was once green and had now turned yellow and donned his old boots, he certainly fitted the part of a seasoned walker. Susan dropped us off today at this side of Pagham Harbour as it would be just as quick to walk across the harbour than driving around. The sun was shining at the start of the walk and was quite warm, however a few fair weather clouds were beginning to form above us.

The short walk across the fields from our drop off soon took us back to the Crab and Lobster where i had finished last time. We were so tempted to go and have a pint in the garden here, but being the fact that we had only just started probably would not have been a good move.

From Sidlesham we joined the tidal path that went closest around the harbour and good timing again meant that the tide was going out so the path was easily accessible. Some bits of the path were quite muddy and others bits had the reeds taking it over, you also had to be careful here (as we found out) and that is that you could easily wander off on a worn looking track thinking its the path, but it’s not and you would end up having to double back as it would come to a dead end, fortunately we only went about a hundred metres before we realised that we were wandering further in to the harbour.

image    image

The great thing about Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve is that it’s so peaceful even with the many different calls of the migrating wild fowl, i wonder if they can understand each other or whether they speak a different language, however the harbour is very much a glorious haven for the many different species of bird that either settle here or use it as a stop off on their long journeys. This area attracts many bird watchers and occassionally you would read in the paper that a rare bird had been spotted here, however, today it was particularly quiet, there was not many people walking around it or even twitching. We soon rejoined the path on the Pagham Harbour wall that was to take us back East and lead us to the route that takes us past Pagham Lagoon and the South side of Church Farm holiday village. There were now a few more walkers out with their dogs, probably from the caravan park. Once we had walked all the way around the harbour we were back to the sea edge again and we could see the mouth of the harbour and the tidal water rapidly flowing out, i’m sure they have done lots of work here as it was different to how we remember it as kids.

image

From here it was to be a short walk up Harbour Road to the part of Pagham village where there is an amusement arcade, souvenir shop, cafe and a sailing club it seemed as though it had not changed here since i frequented these amusements in my courting days when i met Susan thirty two years ago. Brought back some great memories and led to a great reminiscing session with Paul King.

The tide was becoming quite low now which meant that we could walk along the beach and follow the coastline right back to Felpham now. We walked right down on the waters edge and could see Bognor pier in the distance, it was now an easterly wind and quite a strong one at that, however it wasn’t cold. The walk took us in front of many residences and ultimately to the the promenade at West End.

image

Just before reaching the promenade we came across the wreck of a Floating Pontoon which was once part of the Mulberry Floating harbours used by the Allies to invade the French coast on D-Day 6th June 1944. This particular section was a part of the Mulberry Harbour which broke free in a storm on 4th June, the day before it was due to go over the channel to Arromanche. This particular section of Mulberry was abandoned and it was washed up on the beach shortly after D-Day. It is clearly visible at low tide which was great as it enabled us to have a good look around.

image    image

We felt a few spots of rain and was hoping that it wasnt going to come to much as we did not have our waterproofs with us, so we headed up to the promenade, where we could easily shelter (in a pub) if need be, but fortunately it did only turn out to be a few drops.

image

From Aldwick the walk took us along the promenade past many sites that have changed over the years to the pier, or part of a pier as it is today. Various storms over the years has seen parts of the pier be destroyed and only a small section remains of the splendour it once was.

From the pier a short walk along the promenade at Bognor Regis, past the bandstand takes us to Butlins Holiday resort, a major tourist spot that has been attracting holiday makers since it opened in 1960, albeit that it has changed considerably over the years and it is now distinguished by three large hotels and a marquee type structure. Butlins is built on land that divides Bognor Regis and Felpham.

image    image

The trek today has been another massive milestone as i have now achieved walking along the entire coast from Bournemouth Pier to my home village of Felpham and the last corner that we turned before stopping for the day meant that in the far distance i could ultimately see the white buildings of Brighton and the goal for 2015.

image    image

The day was concluded by having a meal at the Lobster Pot, which is a cafe during the day and a restaurant in the evening during the summer months, I couldnt think of a better way to finish the day than with a bottle of Peroni, Crab Bruschetta to start, followed by a main course of Lobster Linguine and all with the sights, sounds and smells of the sea…………Perfect!!

Selsey to Sidlesham

  4th September 2015

Selsey to Sidlesham. 11.73 km (7.28 miles)

I parked up at Sidlesham and caught the gold rider bus to selsey, why they put times at bus stops I’ll never know as I’ve not known one to turn up on time. After going around the houses and making me feel quite a bit queezy the bus dropped me off at West Sands holiday park where I was going to start the walk this evening,

I started walking at about 6pm and had decided at last minute to split the trek back to Felpham in two, particularly after my last adventure. From the Windmill at Medmerry I headed due south to the sea and walked along the coastline for probably a kilometre before having to walk through some residential streets. The views looking back towards Portsmouth on this stretch were fantastic and it made me think about how far i had come on this trek so far.

After walking through some streets I was back on the seafront and at the Selsey Bill, the furthest point out on the peninsula and another corner that will be turned, I will no longer be able to look back along the coast and see where I have been, but instead can see the way forward and where I will ultimately end. The Bill was a little disappointing as there was not a lot there apart from a falling down sea defence and a nice big house.

image   image

On the eastern side of the Bill was a promenade to walk on. This was a much more interesting part to selsey, the sea was really calm, the fishing boats at anchor were gently bobbing in the small waves and the lifeboat station can be seen standing proud in the sea. The Selsey lifeboat has been present in the town since 1861 and is now housed in a shed about 100m off the shore and when called upon will slide down a ramp into the sea. Selsey is famous for it’s lobster and crab and has a unique taste that is sought after in many restaurants, the fisheries where the shellfish is prepared can be seen along the shore to the east of the lifeboat station, they had closed for the day when i passed by, but the smell of the shellfish was very poignant in the air.

image    image

Near the end of the promenade I had to leave the coast for a short walk through some farmland to Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, the pickers were still in the fields gatthering up the last of the veg before the sun set and the light goes. Looking back through the fields i could see how lucky i was that i missed the rain, the sky was so black.

image

On reaching the nature reserve it was a scene of tranquility, i was now once again away from the open sea and sheltered from the prevailing wind. The sun was just setting and soon the light would be fading. I could see the lights of Pagham and Church Farm Holiday Village across the harbour one by one switching on.

image

The walk from here is following the edge of the nature reserves harbour all the way around to Sidlesham, it is a tidal harbour where the sea fills and empties it every day. Fortunately i have the timing right this time as the tide was out which allowed me to take the path closest to the waters edge. The sound of the many water birds could be heard in the air and in the bushes, singing and making their final calls for the day before settling down in their nests for the night.

image

On reaching Sidlesham the light had just about gone, which showed a different beauty to this little hamlet. The Crab and Lobster a local gastropub in this hamlet was certainly busy on this Friday night and would have got my custom if Susan had been with me.

image

A short walk back to the car finished the shorter trek for today.

Bosham to Selsey

29th August 2015

Bosham to Selsey 26.6km (16.5 miles)

Today should have been a very straightforward day and about 20km. I knew it would be a long trek, not unachievable but essential nonetheless as Selsey was a another miles stone that I needed to reach. However it turned out to be an exceptionally frustrating day; which was down to issues with the route and lack of homework beforehand. I will explain later how we ended up doing a very tiring 30 km……

Today I have cookie and Kiah walking with me, an added challenge with two dogs, so after catching the train to Bosham and a bus down to the quay we were ready to start.

When we finished up at Bosham last time the tide was going out and we were able to walk along the tidal road a little way, however on my return today the tide was high and still coming in so the road was flooded, fortunately there is a sea wall with a raised footpath that you can walk around the Bosham Harbour area. I must admit that this part of the country is one of my favourites, I don’t know what it is about the combination of the sea, boats, harbours and the seabirds that make it so beautiful.

image   image

Following the coast around Bosham harbour means that you get to see the village from various angles and all the views are terrific. After following the wall, you rejoin the road which at spring tides would be totally covered, however I was lucky as only some of the road was covered although slowly creeping up the Tarmac, which meant just around the corner I had to wade through some water that covered half my boot over, lucky they are waterproof.

image    image

As it was high tide this meant that I was not able to walk around the footpath on the shoreline to the ferry, but instead had to walk along the alternative route along the road; which had a queue of cars on as people had not realised that the tide was high and the road impassable. The road beyond the queue was very quiet and was only about a kilometre long before a short walk through some woods to the Itchenor ferry.

image

Just as I got to the ferry I could see it leaving, doh! But this was OK as it gave me some time to sit down and watch the world go by, I had to wait about 15 minutes and it arrived back, it is a small boat that seats about 12, the ferry pulled straight up onto the shoreline and lowered a ramp for you too climb on, after treading on a little bit of seaweed, having wet boots and two dogs in tow meant that this was not going to be so easy as the ramp suddenly became incredibly slippery, so after a bit of a cafuffle I got one of the dogs on and then the skipper helped me aboard as if I was 90 years old. Joining me on the ferry for this trip was three bikes, six people and three nervous dogs, particularly Kiah. It didn’t take long for the ferry to cross the Chichester Channel and the docking at Itchenor was to be on a floating pontoon, so alighting was so much easier. The floating movement of the pontoon really did unnerve the dogs which made them walk really slowly and keep very low as if it was not safe.

image

Itchenor is a beautiful sailing village with many exclusive large houses, a pub, a harbourmasters office and a boat yard, there were no shops there, which meant that I would have to wait a little longer for an ice cream.

From Itchenor you continue around the shoreline on a path which now forms part of the Lipchis Way, another long distance path from Liphook to the Witterings. On this path you pass many beautiful residences that command fantastic views across the harbour, one can only dream of living in such a place. The Lipchis Way took me right down to the beach at East Head and just as I was approaching here I got the smell of many BBQs that were being cooked on, definitely time to put the dogs back on their leashes otherwise they would be running off with the sausages. This is a very popular area for seaside day trippers from inland and London. The beaches here are made up of sand dunes with very soft sand. I’m not sure how much the parking is here but most people were here for the day. Dogs were only allowed on certain parts of the beach here, which is good so that there is an area for everyone. There were a few food outlets here containing a burger stand, fish and chip stand and a few cafes, it was time to get my ice cream here, a Mr Whippy with a 99 flake was the order of the day, it cost £2 but I got to admit it was a big one. Literally just after buying the ice cream and taking my first few licks it started to rain, first by just spitting and then with a much heavier downpour, this meant that i had to quickly woof down the ice cream so that it was’nt washed away. Timing not so clever I think.

image

The rain was quite heavy now and my walk from East Head car park was to be along the beach at West Wittering with views out to the open ocean, such views i have not seen since setting out on my trek at Bournemouth. We continued on the promenade at East Wittering, past Peter and Jo’s former house (hasn’t changed much in 18 years) and through the estates to Bracklesham Bay, the only way was around as all the foreshore houses from here seemed to have private beaches.

The next stage of the trek is where my problems were going to occur and if I had known what was to lie ahead I would have stopped the day at Bracklesham Bay and had a coffee in Billy’s cafe right on the seafront (I would certainly recommend that is what you should do). So from the car park we walked along East Bracklesham Drive to the end and then down on to the sands, the dogs didn’t like walking on the pebbles as it tended to hurt their paws, so I let them off on the sand and we walked right on the edge of the sea. We could see that West Sands caravan park was not too far in the distance and that we would not be too long in reaching there, the beach as we got nearer was becoming not so nice as there were some large iron poles probably old war sea defences sticking out and the sand was becoming very clay’y. I was thinking that I didn’t remember these the last time I walked along here, anyhow onward I plodded and could see the holiday centre only a couple of hundred yards away when all of a sudden I came across an outlet which was about 20 metres across with very fast flowing water from the land, I could not believe it, I had a quick scout around and there was no way that I was going to get across here, it was all to do with flood relief works and realignment of the Medmerry head allowing the sea to reclaim some of the land thus protecting the caravan parks and houses in the area. So after admitting defeat and the fact that I was not going any further I turned around and started to retrace my footsteps back. My face was a picture of mega grumpiness……..lol.

image      image

I had walked back approximately 1.5 km when I saw some people on the top of the stone bank so thought I would head up there too, only to see a series of signs saying no access to West Sand along the beach and that I would have to follow the detour around the environment agency works, why was there not a sign lower, if only I had walked up higher I would have seen these signs.

image

The walk around this new flood plain added another 9km on the day, Cookie was not happy, my face was grumpy and Kiah still seemed to have the energy to run around like mad. We finally reached West Sands and all the holiday makers were in the clubhouse bar supping their pints overlooking the wet landscape.

image

This is where I was going to finish so I headed for the bus stop only to see the bus pulling away, so I walked into the town centre and caught a bus from there.

The final part of the day was also not without incidence, however, when I look back now i suppose it was quite funny. When I got onto the train, it was very crowded so I had to hold the dogs in close such that they would not get trampled. The next thing I see is that Kiah has slipped her collar and making an exit from the train, I managed to grab her just before she jumped, fortunately a girl helped by holding cookie so that I could get Kiah back on the lead. The wet dogs thanked them by shaking themselves splashing their legs with the cold dirty water.

After the 30km that i had done today i still managed to get to Arundel Festival to see some bands, goodness knows how, but i did!

 

Nutbourne to Bosham

3rd August 2015

Nutbourne to Bosham – 13.6km (8.5 miles)

Today i am joined by my lovely wife Susan and Cookie, we parked one car at Bosham and the other at Nutbourne, so it was going to be easier on getting to and from the trek. On leaving the car at Nutbourne we walked down the short footpath to the harbour and picked up from where i left off on the previous leg. The weather today was overcast with the threat of rain all day. We would be walking today around the Chidham Peninsula to Bosham.

The start of the walk was on a well made up path that was very easy underfoot that started to take us around the western edge of the Nutbourne Channel. A couple of fisherman that had not caught anything were on this stretch too, one was quite chatty and it was great to hear about his fishing and catching flounders from the harbour, he also talked about the resident seal in the harbour that had had an impact on his fishing.

P1040211

The path further forward from here was very eroded and quite overgrown with long grass, which made the easy walking quite a bit more difficult, there was an alternative route which was easier but would have cut quite a bit of the coast out.

The tide had been coming in as we walked along the shores of Chidham Peninsula, which as we soon found out, this was not to be a good thing. As we approached the south western point of the headland we met with some woods that went right to the high tide level which meant that our route around the coast was now thwarted, we had to head inland along the edges of the fields, which was not a recognised route, fortunately though we found a way through and came back out on the shoreline at Cobnor Point. This we also found out was not a short cut as we had to follow the edge of the fields. At Cobnor Point we climbed a few steps back up to a higher path. This path was made as an accessible path for people staying at Cobnor Activities Centre and this wide path led us to the centre.

P1040213      P1040218

Cobnor Activities centre is made up of two organisations that provide a residential camp site and dorms for young people to take part in outdoor and sailing activities, we saw many youngsters kayaking and trying to cross the water on rotating poles, certainly looked good fun.

The walk from Cobnor was very scenic with views across to Itchenor and Bosham, of which i would be covering on the next leg. This part was also very tranquil and all that could be heard was the lapping of the waves on the shore, the seabirds and Susan saying that ‘Map my Walk’ was saying that we had covered nine kilometres and that i said it was a ten kilometre walk yet Bosham was the other side of the channel, so i turned the sound down so that she wouldn’t know when we had reached the 10k mark, in case she refused to go any further………lol.

P1040216

The path continued taking us through Chidham and up to the main road A259 where we had to walk a short stretch before dropping back down to Bosham. It was raining now and had to resort to getting the waterproofs out.

Our day was to finish at Bosham which is a very typical harbour town that has a small art and craft centre, which is a cornucopia of different shops selling all sorts of very good art from sculptures to paintings. The quayside at Bosham has a road that floods at every high tide a cafe and a pub with great views across the harbour.

P1040223      P1040222

P1040221

Emsworth to Nutbourne

1st August 2015

Emsworth to Nutbourne – 17.9km (11.12 miles)

Technically today we (Cookie & I) will be progressing along the coast by a few kilometres, yet clocking up nearly 18km on the boots as we will be venturing around Thorney Island. On leaving St Peters Square in the centre of Emsworth we followed the High St out of town to Slipper Mill Pond, where we walked on a causeway to the Emsworth Yacht Club and marina, an opportunity could have been had here to stop for a coffee at the Deck Cafe as it commanded great views over the marina, but decided to carry on as i had only just started. The marina also had some deck houses which were built in the 60’s and raised up on stilts, i’m sure that they were all used as holiday homes but looked really unique.

P1040187

It was a long straight walk down the western side of Thorney Island before you get to the security fence, i had fingers crossed and was hoping that we would be allowed to pass through as this leg was so crucial in my completion of the pier to pier trek. Thorney Island is a military base and has been since 1938 where an RAF airfield was built, today it is occupied by the Army. On approaching the security fence and gate you are watched by many cameras. I pushed the gate and it was locked, there was however an intercom/help button to press, so i pushed it and waited. I stood there thinking that i can’t look like a threat with my hike boots, map and fluffy dog, after a few seconds there was a big click and the lock was electronically released on the gate, i pushed and it opened, yippee i can continue the walk, however it was paramount that i stuck to the path, i didnt fancy being chased by the frequent large guard dog patrols.

P1040189     P1040191

P1040205

The walk was very remote along the western shores of the island and i saw no one until i reached the southern side, where people were fishing and flying model aircraft. The path had been raised up almost like a small dyke keeping the sea at bay, the path dropped down when we reached Pilsey Sands which is a nature reserve on the southern most tip, the public are not allowed onto Pilsey sands, but there is a lovely tranquil beach here that you can access, there was only five other people on the beach and across the water was East Head at the Witterings which would have been far far busier.

P1040196     P1040194

From the sandy beach here we head northwards on a windy path through the reed beds and across some plains on which what looked like Samphire was growing, the path from here and up to West Thorney was shielded by some very tall hedges so the views were a little limited up to the village. West Thorney is on the East of the Island (didn’t seem to get that!) consisted of some houses a sailing club and a church called St Nicholas, all of a sudden the tranquility of the rest of Thorney certainly stopped here as it was a hub of activity with children playing in the grounds of the sailing club and many people pulling their boats in and out. The church’s graveyard had many many headstones depicting that those buried here had served in the forces. The path at the church drops very low and is not passable when the tide is high.

P1040199

From West Thorney we  headed north along the path that was once again raised up above the water on one side and the land on the other and was quite straight all the way up to a very small inlet called Thornham Marina, apparently Chichester Harbour’s best kept secret place to moor your boat, it was quaint with some of the pontoons looking very homemade. Just along from here i arrived at Prinsted. A lovely coastal village with some very prestige houses in. I stopped here and had an ice cream that was being sold by the sea scouts as their HQ was right on the waterfront, what a fantastic fundraiser for them as they were also selling teas and coffees too, a very successful venture if i may say as there was lots of people sitting here enjoying the sunshine.

P1040210     P1040209

From Prinsted it was a short walk along the harbour to Nutbourne, quite a few people were also enjoying this stretch by taking their post Sunday lunch stroll along here, i must say it was certainly beautiful. My day’s trek was to finish up at a bench on the shoreline that was placed there in memory of an actor, but unfortunately i cannot remember who it was, so annoying. A short path inland from here takes you to the village of Nutbourne.

 

 

 

Brockhampton to Emsworth

12th July 2015

Brockhampton to Emsworth – 7.4km (4.6 miles)

Today is a short leg to achieve another milestone on this journey and finish the solent way, its a good job that it’s short as the weather is not so kind today with a bit of drizzle in the air.

Brockhampton is now an industrial suburb of havant that has a few surprises, there was once a mill here that was recorded in the Doomsday book. The brook that runs through here is so beautiful that you would think that you are in the countryside, yet you turn the corner to more industrial works. The coastal path from here now follows Langstone harbour around to the bridge that links Hayling Island to the mainland.

P1040124   P1040125  P1040126

The Solent Way crosses the main road here with lots of holiday makers heading on to Hayling Island. On the other side of the road we walked down Langstone High Street, this was like taking a step back in time with the many 18th century cottages and a pub called the Royal Oak which over looks the harbour. Part of the High Street on a very high tide is prone to flooding and evidence of this can be seen by the boards fixed on the street door to stop any water getting in. We then continued on the harbour wall and walked past the old corn windmill that was built in 1730, the mill is a key local landmark that you will see in many photos and pictures.

P1040133   P1040134

On leaving Langstone village the harbour side finishes and the path drops down on to a tidal footpath through to Warblington, so lucky we timed that right with the tide out. The sea defence here is made of old railway sleepers and is doing a good job in keep in the land back and the tide out.

P1040139

At Warblington the path left the wet slippy shore and headed inland a little passing through the cemetary of St Thomas a’ Becket Church; which has been here since the late 12th century. At Warblington the remains of the the gate house can be seen of Warblington Castle which was once a splendid, fortified house and the setting for some of Englands most important families and the political games that they had a part in.

P1040148   P1040146

The Solent Way leaves the coast a little here and heads passed a field before returning to the shoreline at Emsworth. The final leg of the Solent way is along a promenade past Mill Pond; a wall that was constructed in the 18th century with gates to keep the tidal water in at low tide, allowing the merchant vessels to unload. The promenade then meets the quay side at the end of South Street and a short walk up this road takes you to St Peter’s Square where the Solent Way finally ends.

P1040155   P1040160

St Peter’s Square in Emsworth houses an amazing bus stop that is paying tribute to families in the war and can be seen by the photos that are printed on the glass.

P1040162      P1040166

P1040165      P1040163