List of walks in date order, with links
Date Walk Distance
09 July 2011 Pagham - Bognor Regis - Littlehampton 21.2 km (13.3 miles)
02 July 2011 Eastbourne to Bexhill 18.7 km (11.7 miles)
27 February 2011 Worthing to Littlehampton 16.2 km (10.1 miles)
19 February 2011 West Wittering to Selsey 16.9 km (10.6 miles)
22 January 2011 Brighton to Peacehaven 12.5 km (7.8 miles)
12 September 2009 Newhaven to Exceat, with a detour into the Cuckmere Valley 15.3 km (9.6 miles)
18 July 2009 West Wittering to Fishbourne, along the Chichester Channel 15.4 km (9.6 miles)
Plan The plan for walking the coast of Sussex -

The plan for walking the coast of Sussex

As noted on my 'Future projects' page, I've an aspiration to complete a walk around the coast between London and Southampton. I'm proposing to do this as a series of smaller, more manageable projects. One of these is to walk the coast of Sussex.

The walk would run from the Hampshire/Sussex border just east of Emsworth to the Sussex/Kent border just west of Camber (at Lydd Ranges). The Long Distance Walkers Association lists a Sussex Coastline Walk and gives the distance as 222 km (138 miles). The Sussex Coastline Walk seems to be based on a book called Walking the Coastline of Sussex by David Bathurst (a prolific author of walking guides), published in 2002 and now out of print.

I've not really got a plan for walking the Sussex coast - I seem to end up walking sections of it at random intervals with Haydn, who is gradually walking the south coast of England. I've tried to work out which bits I've already walked, and which bits remain to be walked, so I can plan how to complete this project.

Taking individual sections of coastline:


18 July 2009: West Wittering to Fishbourne, along the Chichester Channel

15.4 km (9.6 miles)

Sir Henry Royce
Sir Henry Royce, 1863 - 1933, who lived in West Wittering from 1917

Haydn is gradually walking the south coast of England. He is currently filling in the gaps on the section of coast between Portsmouth and Eastbourne, and today's walk was part of this project. [I have now incorporated the walk into my project to walk the coast of Sussex.] Land's End to Poole is part of a bigger project to walk the South West Coast Path. Portsmouth to Poole and Eastbourne to North Foreland will follow.

Chichester Channel
Chichester Channel, approaching Itchenor

The four of us doing the walk (Haydn, Pat, Viv and me) took the train to Chichester, and then took the No 53 bus to West Wittering. (The Witterings, East and West, are served by two very frequent buses, the 52 and 53, both following the same route, but going in opposite directions around a loop through the Witterings.)

Wheat field
Wheat field, between Itchenor and Chichester Marina

In West Wittering we went past the studio of Henry Royce (of Rolls Royce), marked by a bronze plaque, and then visited the church (late Norman in origin). From the church we took the path westwards to the coast. It was then simply a matter of following the footpaths keeping as close to the Chichester Channel as possible.

Duck crossing the road at Chichester Marina

At Itchenor we stopped for a very good crab sandwich from the Crab Shack (a mobile fish stall) and watched the sailing boats and the Itchenor Ferry, which shuttles walkers and cyclists across to the Bosham peninsula.

Between Itchenor and Chichester Marina there is a short section where we had to walk inland, through fields of peas and wheat. At Salterns Lock I was fascinated by three huge fish (Barbels?) swimming around in the shallow water (it was low tide).

Chichester Channel
Chichester Channel, near Copperas Point

Between Chichester Marina and Dell Quay there is a permissive path along the Chichester Channel, which wasn't marked on my version of the OS 1:25 000 map, but which I knew about from the excellent series of walk leaflets produced by Chichester Harbour Conservancy.

We stopped at the Crown and Anchor (Youngs) in Dell Quay for a pint of shandy, and then completed the walk into Fishbourne to get the train home.

Boat at Dell Quay

The weather was cool and cloudy, occasionally threatening to rain, but keeping dry except for a light shower as we reached Fishbourne station.

A worthwhile, interesting walk with fine views over Chichester Harbour.

Chichester Harbour Conservancy
Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Sea lavender


12 September 2009: Newhaven to Exceat, with a detour into the Cuckmere Valley

15.3 km (9.6 miles)

Tide mills
Remains of tide mills, between Newhaven and Seaford

Haydn and Pat were not sure they could come walking until the last minute, so we ended up decided on the route of today's walk once we had met on the train to Brighton. As it was a beautiful day, I suggested filling in another small gap in Haydn's walk along the coast, between Newhaven to and Seaford, and then carrying on over Seaford Head and up the Cuckmere Valley.

Castle Hill
Castle Hill, Newhaven

Accordingly, we took the train from Brighton, changing at Lewes, to Newhaven. Unusually, the cafe on Lewes station was actually open, so we could get a cup of tea.

Beach huts
Beach huts, Seaford

We got off at Newhaven Town (from where we had started when beginning our Meridian walk, which had filled in the gap between Newhaven and Peacehaven), then walked to Newhaven Harbour to pick up the Vanguard Way (a long distance path starting in Croydon and finishing in Newhaven). We followed the Vanguard Way to the remains of the old tide mills, where the Susses Ouse had once entered the sea. Little remains, but there are a series of boards with old photographs and a history.

Seaford Head
Seaford Head

Rather than follow the Vanguard Way along a rather dull path for the short distance to the outskirts of Seaford, we walked along the edge of the shingle, following an old railway track. The shingle supports a good selection of specialist plants, including horned poppies, still flowering, with their characteristic long seed pods.

Seven Sisters
Approaching Hope Gap, looking towards Seven Sisters

Seaford itself was very quite, the beach empty but for a couple of surf guards riding up and down on a quad bike. We stopped for lunch at the Tuck Inn Cafe, just a block or so from the front - very good value.

Seaford has a Martello tower, now a museum, just before the rise to Seaford Head. The walk over Seaford Head is very fine, with superb views towards the Seven Sisters. It supports a good collection of wild flowers, largely over at this time of year. Approaching Cuckmere Haven, there in an interesting lens of loess in the cliff top.

Hope Gap
Hope Gap

We followed the route of the Vanguard Way up the Cuckmere Valley to the Golden Galleon pub. We stopped at the pub for a pint, though it isn't one of my favourites - one of those over-large family-friendly pubs people drive to for lunch.

Coastguard cottages
Coastguard cottages, Cuckmere Haven

From the pub, we continued up the valley along the east bank of the Cuckmere River, as far as the White Horse (cut into the chalk in downs above).

We then crossed the valley, to pick up the South Downs Way at Charleston Manor. We followed the South Downs Way southwards to West Dean, then, rather than continue with it to Exceat (our destination), we took the bridleway around the spur.

From Exceat, we took the No 12 bus back to Brighton, and then the train home. Not a long walk, but a very enjoyable one.

Cuckmere River
Cuckmere River, north of Exceat Bridge
Vanguard Way waymark

Yellow Horned-Poppy Sea Mayweed


22 January 2011: Brighton to Peacehaven

12.5 km (7.8 miles)

West Pier
West Pier, Brighton

Haydn and Pat had asked me down the weekend before Christmas, but our arrangements were disrupted by snow and flu. Today was to make up for the abandoned trip before Christmas. We agreed on a walk, but hadn't really planned anything, so Haydn suggested a walk along the coast from Brighton, as the paths inland were very muddy from the recent rain. Viv was able to join us, so the four of us got the train to Brighton.

Lobster, Brighton beach

From Brighton station we walked down Queens Road and West Street to the sea, between West Pier (now just a skeleton) and Palace Pier. We then turned east, with Newhaven as an ultimate destination, but with the possibility of stopping earlier and getting one of the frequent coast buses back to Brighton if the weather turned foul.

Brighton Marina
Brighton Marina

There is not much to say about the route - very much a case of keeping the sea on the right. From the Palace Pier the esplanade follows Volk's Electric Railway ('the world's oldest operating electric railway'). At Brighton Marina we followed Pat through the maze of shops, bars and restaurants.

Below the cliffs, Roedean

At the western end of the marina the route under the cliffs is blocked by the start of Southern Water's 'Clearer Seas for Sussex Scheme'. Their website describing the scheme is an irritating Flash production, with all the text contained within images, making it impossible to quote from the site. Essentially, the scheme allows wastewater from Hove to Peacehaven to be processed to current EU standards.

I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) by the number of fishing boats in the marina. Below the sea wall on the east side of the marina we spotted a group of turnstones, particularly charming little birds.

Looking back to Brighton from Rottingdean

From the marina we followed the sea defences under the cliffs to Rottingdean. The tide was up, hiding the remains of the extraordinary Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway. In Rottingdean we called into the Coach House (very close to the seafront on the High Street). They sold Harveys and did excellent ploughman's lunches (plenty of bread, not too much cheese) and jacket potatoes.

Approaching Saltdean

After lunch we were not sure how far it was possible to get along the sea defences below the cliffs, so we decided to continue along the footpath that runs along the top of the cliffs. This offered good views of the cliffs and the sea, though at times it was rather close to the coast road, and was popular with dog walkers and all that that implies.

The whole coast here was built over in the early years of the twentieth century, mainly bungalows, with Rottingdean, Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven forming a nearly continuous suburb between Brighton and Newhaven.

Looking back towards Brighton from Telscombe Cliffs

At Peacehaven, the Greenwich meridian crosses the coast. The point is marked by a substantial monument, erected to the memory of George V. The plaque on its southern face says it was erected by the inhabitants in the year 1936 to commemorate the beneficent and illustrious reign of their beloved sovereign (1910 - 1936) and to mark Peacehaven's position on the prime meridian of Greenwich.

Towards Peacehaven the weather, which had up to then been overcast and chilly, had started to deteriorate and it began to drizzle. As we had already walked the coast between Newhaven and Peacehaven (as part of my Meridian Walk, on 14 March 2009), we decided to call it a day at Peacehaven. We therefore got the 12A bus back into Brighton, where we stopped off for a cup of tea and a toasted teacake before heading back to the station for the train home.

A short walk, but an enjoyable one.

Looking northwards along the Greenwich meridian at Peacehaven



19 February 2011: West Wittering to Selsey

16.9 km (10.6 miles)

Roman Landing
Shoreline at Roman Landing

After walking between Brighton and Peacehaven on 22 January 2011, I decided to put some effort into working out which bits of the Sussex coast I'd walked and which I'd not yet covered. Having now done this, I'm intending to take a more systematic approach to completing the walk along the coast.

Although I've only walked the coast from Thorney Island to Fishbourne by cutting across the Chidham and Bosham peninsulas, the first real gap in the walk along the coast is the stretch between West Wittering and Selsey.

East Head
Sea at East Head where it meets West Wittering Beach

I therefore persuaded Haydn, Pat and Viv to join me in walking this section of coast. The forecast was fairly bad - heavy rain, clearing in the afternoon, and it was drizzling when I left to get the train to Chichester. Fortunately, by the time we reached Chichester, the rain had stopped, although it was still grey and misty, with low cloud cover.

Beach huts
Beach huts, West Wittering Beach

East and West Wittering have an excellent bus service from Chichester, the No 52 and No 53 buses leaving alternately at 15 minute intervals, one going clockwise and the other anticlockwise around a loop through the Witterings. We were just in time to pick up a No 52, running a few minutes late whilst it waited for the level crossing next to the railway station to open.

West Wittering Beach
West Wittering Beach, looking towards Hayling Island

At West Wittering we took the path heading west to the coast from Pound Road through Roman Landing (a private estate). We then followed the coast round to East Head.

I'd walked around East Head (a huge moving sand dune) in perfect weather when I'd walked the New Lipchis Way. Today there was a high tide and a stiff breeze, producing some decent sized waves. For variety, we circled East Head in the opposite direction to when I'd first walked it. Despite the dreary weather, a lot of dog-walkers were also walking around the Head (there is a convenient nearby car park).

Cakeham Manor
Cakeham Manor

From East Head we walked along West Wittering Beach. Very popular in summer, it was fairly empty today, with the beach huts closed up and the sand looking rather grey. Along the tide line there was an interesting sprinkling of shells. One common type I couldn't immediately identify seemed to consist of a stack of rounded shells of diminishing size. A search of the net identified these as common slipper limpets (Crepidula fornicata).

The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland says:

Sea wall
Sea wall, East Wittering

The slipper limpet normally occurs on the Atlantic coast of North America but some animals were introduced to Essex in 1887-90, with imported oysters, and the species has now spread along the south coast of England.

The chains of up to fifteen animals (usually fewer) are made up of small male animals on the top, with some in the middle in the process of changing sex, and the large animals at the opposite end are female. The males fertilize the females in the same chain. Chains persist by the addition of small males at one end while females die at the other.

Moving house, Bracklesham

The tide line was also littered with largish lumps of mudstone, all containing neatly bored holes of various sizes. The holes were probably bored by the common piddock (Pholas dactylus). One of the piddock's shells has a set of ridges or 'teeth', which they use to grind away at clay or soft rock to create tubular burrows.

From West Wittering Beach, we continued to follow the shoreline to East Wittering, the sand changing to shingle. We passed Cakeham Manor, which has a tall hexagonal red brick tower, built by Bishop Sherborn about 1519.

View towards Selsey
View towards Selsey from near Bracklesham

In East Wittering we stopped of for a drink in the Shore Inn (a pint of Palmers Copper Ale for me), on Shore Road. It looked a bit rundown, but was friendly, and prepared to serve tea for Pat and Viv. Its website describes it as East Wittering's esteemed watering hole and restaurant.

Beyond the Shore Inn, the walking was on shingle and rather hard on the feet, so we headed inland to walk along West Bracklesham Drive and East Bracklesham Drive, the closest roads running parallel to the sea.

Bundled old car tyres
Bundled old car tyres awaiting burial, outside Selsey

There were a couple of commemorative plaques on the public toilets between West Bracklesham Drive and East Bracklesham Drive, one to the British and Canadian troops who trained in the Witterings for the Dieppe Raid and the Normandy Landings. The other plaque commemorated the loss of the Hazardous Prize in 1706. It's now a protected wreck.

Bracklesham Bay is an extension of East Wittering. Once we had left it, the map showed no right of way along the shoreline to Selsey. However, there is a clear route all the way to Selsey along the top of a protective shingle bank. There was a sign saying 'Coastal Maintenance - members of the public to keep away from this essential maintenance works' and there were clear marks that earth moving equipment had been busy recently. Ignoring the sign, we plodded on to Selsey.

Truck returning after shifting shingle, Selsey

By now the weather had lifted, and we could see the Isle of Wight clearly in the distance.

On the outskirts of Selsey we passed a site where bundled old car tyres were being buried, presumably as part of the coastal maintenance works. Nearby was a compound of big construction vehicles.

The walk into Selsey passes through a caravan park, and past a funfair and an old windmill. On the edge of Selsey proper, just past a coast guard lookout tower, we had to take to the streets again for a short way, as there was no path along the coast.

Isle of Wight
View to the Isle of Wight

At Hillfield Road (the B 2154) we could rejoin the coast. Further coastal maintenance works were going on, shifting shingle down the coast in large 6 wheel drive articulated trucks, which shuttled up and down the beach at some speed.

Hillfield road was where Haydn and I had started our walk around Pagham Harbour. However, we decided to walk on round Selsey Bill as far as the lifeboat station (located at the end of a pier, with a ramp down to the sea).

Here we picked up the No 51 bus to Chichester at a stop on Kingsway, reached by a short path from the end of the lifeboat pier. The No 51 is a 15-minute service during the day, so we didn't have long to wait. At Chichester Station we had a quick cup of tea in the little cafe on the platform, and then got the train home.

Lifeboat station
Lifeboat station, Selsey

Mussel shell


27 February 2011: Worthing to Littlehampton

16.2 km (10.1 miles)

Atlas or telamon
Atlas or telamon on triumphal arch, Park Crescent

I was busy on Saturday, so I decided to walk on Sunday and fill in another section of the Sussex coast, this time from Worthing to Littlehampton. Viv was able to join me, and we got the train to Worthing. Unfortunately, I was talking and not paying attention, so we missed the stop and went on to West Worthing, a little over a kilometre too far west. This accident had a fortunate outcome, as on our way to Worthing Pier to start the walk, we passed Park Crescent, which we would have otherwise missed. Park Crescent is an elegant Regency terrace, only partially completed, reached through a triumphal arch with Coade Stone heads. It was built in 1831-33, to a design by Amon Henry Wilds.

Worthing Pier
Worthing Pier

We eventually reached Worthing Pier, and headed westwards along the promenade.

Along the seafront we found one of Southern Water's 'drought gardens' one of a series of 'drought tolerant and water efficient gardens in public places to show visitors how drought tolerant species can look attractive but are low maintenance and require no extra watering'. It actually was quite attractive, although the plants were not at their best.

Beach at Goring-by-Sea, looking west

At this point we decided to walk along the beach, as the tide was out and the sand quite firm. We were to continue the walk sometimes along the beach, and sometimes on the shore, depending on the conditions underfoot.

At Ferring there is a rare gap in the coastal development, with a view to Highdown Hill (81 m, with a trig point on top that I haven't visited). There is a strip of development along the railway, but it's hidden by trees, giving an illusion of open country. This impression was added to by a kestrel hunting over the ground, hovering then moving on, occasionally darting down.

Highdown Hill
View to Highdown Hill

I was rather tempted to stop at the Bluebird Cafe, right on the beach, for a cup of tea, but we decided to press on.

At Kensington Gorse Estate we were met with notices, declaring the strip of green between the large houses and the sea to be private property, with a long list of prohibitions, which Viv summed up as 'walk fast, don't stop, and don't make a noise whilst you are doing it'. There was a similar notice further on, this time for the West Kingston Estate.

Digging for bait
Digging for bait, West Kingston

We stopped to eat our sandwiches in Rustington, sitting on the porch of a closed-up beach hut. As we ate our sandwiches, we watched the antics of a couple of blokes with a GPS receiver. As they approached us, I asked if they were geocaching. They were. The geocashe was a 35 mm film cylinder, hidden under a pile of larger pebbles next to the beach hut we were sheltering in.

Outfall, East Preston

Viv hadn't come across geocaching, so I had to explain it. (The site says Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. I'll stick to trigpointing.)

The morning had been bright and sunny, if cold. But just as we finished our sandwiches and were packing up, it started to spot with rain. We decided to put on our waterproofs, and were glad we did so, for it soon started to rain hard, and would continue to rain for the rest of the afternoon.

Along Sea Road in Rustington we found a plaque commemorating two world air speed records, set over Rustington sea front in 1946 and 1953. Unfortunately, it was too wet to take a photograph.

East Beach Café
East Beach Café, Littlehampton

Approaching the end of our walk in Littlehampton we came across the East Beach Café, where we stopped to have a hot chocolate and warm up. The Café (designed by Heatherwick Studio) is rather extraordinary. The Café's website describes the building:

East Beach Café was completed in June 2007 and has since won more than 20 national and international awards for design, architecture, steelwork, craftsmanship and engineering.

The inspiration for the design was a piece of driftwood, though it references many natural shapes of the sea and the coast sand dunes, waves, rocks or anything you might find washed up on the beach.

The exterior is made from mild steel, rusted and then coated in a special oil to protect it from the elements. It is a giant jigsaw of hundreds of flat ribbons of steel, each unique in shape, and was built over nine months by two men. Like the hull of a ship it is a self-supporting structure (monocoque), and is an extremely complicated piece of engineering.

Long Bench
Part of the 'Long Bench', Littlehampton

The rain had eased a little by the time we left the East Beach Café. We walked to the end of East Pier, passing the 'Long Bench' - claimed to be the longest in Britain at 324 m. It twists, spirals and turns, and occasionally passes through a protective shelter.

East Pier
Light on East Pier, Littlehampton

At East Pier we stopped to watch the sea, then followed the east bank of the Arun into town, where I showed Viv the drawbridge (I'm not sure she was impressed). We thought about stopping for a drink, but there was a train due in half an hour, so we decided against it, and wandered up the High Street to pass the time - not particularly inspiring, it has to be said.

And then we got the train home. It was a shame the weather turned foul, but a pleasant Sunday walk nonetheless.

I had a vague notion I might have walked at least part of this section with Haydn, but I decided treat it as not walked for the purposes of this project. After walking it today, I'm sure I have walked it before.

Plaque with fish recipe, east bank of the Arun (one of a series)



02 July 2011: Eastbourne to Bexhill

18.7 km (11.7 miles)

Eastbourne, view back to the pier

I'd agreed to go walking with Haydn, Pat and Viv and it seemed like a good opportunity to walk a bit more of the coast. Eastbourne to Bexhill was a gap in my project to walk the coast of Sussex, and Haydn's project to walk the entire south coast of England.

As the walk was convenient to Brighton, I opened the invitation to the others who usually come on our pub walks. Haydn, Pat and Viv and I met on the train to Brighton, where we changed for a train to Eastbourne, but no one else joined us there. I had stressed it wasn't a pub walk, and anyone coming along would need to bring sandwiches - something of a deterrent.

Lifeboat Station
Eastbourne, RNLI Lifeboat Station

Eastbourne has a rather pleasant station, from where we walked down to the coast, joining it just west of the pier. From the pier the plan was simply to walk eastwards towards Bexhill, keeping as close to the coast as was consistent with avoiding the worst stretches of shingle, which makes walking hard work.

Skateboard park
Skateboard park, Sovereign Park

The first stretch of the walk, as far as the Redoubt, was along the promenade. The Redoubt is now a military museum and its website explains that it was 'formed part of a chain of fortifications built to deter Napoleon's forces in the early 1800s, and it still stands as a unique monument to that time. Garrisoned by troops until the early 1900s and again during World War II the fortress is now a suitable and atmospheric home to three exciting military collections...'.

Flowers growing in shingle, Sovereign Park

Beyond the Redoubt we took a road passing behind buildings along the coast, including a RNLI Lifeboat Station. Beyond this we could continue along the coast on a promenade, shared with cyclists and a tourist train (one of those things hauled by tractors disguised as toy steam trains). This took us past Sovereign Park. Eastbourne Borough Council's website explains the history of Sovereign Park:

Until the 1970s the eastern end of Eastbourne seafront was undeveloped. The shingle here was built up by coastal storm action several centuries ago and had become colonised by plants and animals adapted to this habitat. Plants have to tolerate extreme exposure to wind, salt, heat and unstable ground.

With development going on nearby the council decided to preserve a small area of this unusual habitat as an informal nature reserve which has since been officially recognised as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and it has won an environmental award.

The flowers that grow in the shingle are some of my favourites.

Beachy Head
View back to Beachy Head from Langney Point

At the far end of Sovereign Park is Eastbourne Waste Water Treatment Works. The above ground buildings are supposed to be a replica of a Napoleonic era fort. It's actually a bad pastiche, done without wit. Beyond the treatment works, at Langney Point, is a real Martello tower, though currently swathed in scaffolding and sheeting.

Sovereign Harbour
Sovereign Harbour

The area of shingle of which Sovereign Park forms the eastern end was known as Crumbles and seems to have been used for military purposes. I have a one-inch OS map dated 1940, which shows a firing range and a hospital on the site. The western end of the site, beyond Langney Point, has now been turned into a large marina with associated housing developments. It has been well done, though I thought the housing felt rather soulless.

Martello tower
Martello tower, Crumbles

We walked round the entrance to the marina, Sovereign Harbour, and crossed the gates of the twin lock chambers that give access to the marina, and then continued along the sea front, passing another Martello tower, leaving the development behind us at Old Martello Road.

From Old Martello Road to Pevensey Bay we picked our way along the coast, which is lined with a jumble of odd houses, buildings, huts and Martello towers (converted into houses), becoming progressively more ordered was we approached Pevensey Bay. Sometimes we were walking on shingle, and sometimes on roads serving the buildings. It's an area that has grown without planning, and is oddly attractive as a result.

Seaside garden
Seaside garden, outskirts of Pevensey Bay

At one point, Haydn and Pat detoured inland to avoid a particularly unpleasant stretch of shingle, whist Viv and I stuck to the coast. We all met up again at the centre of Pevensey Bay (marked by a car park and toilets), where we stopped to eat our sandwiches on the beach. Whilst eating we spotted someone carrying cups of tea, and when we finished we went in search of the source of the tea. It turned out to be the Pevensey Bay Aqua Club, an angling and social club, which has a club house (with bar) on the edge of the beach. We stopped for tea in the club's garden, and then pressed on.

Martello tower
Converted Martello tower, Pevensey Bay

After tea we didn't go far along the beach, as very soon the ribbon development of Beachlands forces you to choose between walking along the coast or the road. The coast is fine at low tide, when there is firm sand to walk on, but hard work at high tide, when you have to walk on shingle. As it was high tide, we chose the road.

Fishing, Pevensey Bay

Beachlands is a classic bit of 1930s bungalow development, much of poor quantity. Many of the bungalows have subsequently been 'improved', but there are still some originals to be seen. Notable were a row of 'oyster bungalows', based on Swedish designs. These have a large curved section at the front, forming the main room with windows all round and a French window style double front door.

Pevensey Bay Aqua Club
Pevensey Bay Aqua Club

Once through Beachlands we could return to the sea front, at first walking on a sea wall, and then back on shingle. As we were approaching Norman's Bay a voice called out asking if we wanted a copy of the Big Issue. It was Graham, who had intended to join us, but got up late. He had guessed how far we would have walked and gone ahead by train, and had started walking back towards us, but stopped to wait for us as he wasn't sure whether we would have taken the road or the beach through Beachlands.

Bungalow, Beachlands

From Norman's Bay we had a long stretch walking on reasonably well compacted shingle, and then along the coast road into Cooden, at Cooden Beach Station. We then took to the shingle again, but decided to leave it fairly soon, as it was hard going. We climbed some steps up onto an area of grass, and then walked along Beaulieu Road, Hartfield Road, Cooden Drive and South Cliff Road, when we took a path back down to the coast and a promenade that took us all the way into Bexhill.

Modern shelter, Bexhill

Bexhill is evidently making a big effort to tidy itself up and make itself attractive to holidaymakers. It has put up new shelters in a modern timber design, breaking away from the traditional ornate Victorian cast iron design, and installed new lighting. The work is not yet complete, and the area around the De La Warr Pavilion is a building site. I like Bexhill as a seaside resort - it's smaller than Brighton, more interesting than Eastbourne and not as run-down as Hastings.

From the sea front we walked up Sea Road to the station for the train home, passing Louis' Fish Restaurant where Viv and I had eaten after our walk from Bexhill to Battle on 22 August 2010. Sea Road contains a couple of odd shops - The Gael which hires out kilts and pipers, and Model Engineering Supplies which sells bits for miniature railways (5" and 7¼" gauge).

A surprisingly interesting walk, with much to see. The weather was ideal - sunny and warm but not hot, with occasional interesting storm clouds inland.

Boat on the beach, Bexhill

Viper's Bugloss Biting Stonecrop White Melilot


09 July 2011: Pagham - Bognor Regis - Littlehampton

21.2 km (13.3 miles)

Pagham Harbour
Pagham Harbour, from bird hide, looking north-west

I had been planning to walk the next section of the Semaphore Line, but I'd not had time to plan the route adequately (I'm getting to a section where transport is getting more difficult), so I decided to fill in a gap in my walk along the coast of Sussex, walking through Bognor Regis.

Entrance to Pagham Harbour
Entrance to Pagham Harbour, view towards Bognor

The day looked as if it would be idea for this walk, with low tide at noon and a forecast of sun all day with a cooling breeze. The low tide was important, as this allowed me to avoid long stretches of shingle, and it avoided the need for any diversions inland - I think there are a few places in Aldwick and Middleton-on-Sea which would not be passable at high tide because the private estates extend down to the high water mark.

When I'd walked Pagham Harbour with Haydn, we had walked round the end of Pagham Lagoon, but not gone right to the harbour entrance, so I decided to start my walk from somewhere along the eastern side of the harbour.

Outfall, Pagaham

I therefore got the train to Chichester, and then caught the No. 60 bus (which runs every 15 minutes) to Pagham, getting off at the corner of Pagham Road and Sea Lane, on the outskirts of the town.

From the bus stop I walked up Church Lane to see the church (which was locked up) and then continued to a gate into Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve, where I crossed a field to reach the edge of Pagham Harbour. There is a public footpath a few yards inland, but as it was low water, I walked along the edge of the Harbour to get the views. It's probably walkable at high water, but it would be rather wet in places.

Wreck of Mulberry Harbour pontoon, Bognor

When I got to the edge of the caravan park ('Holliday Village' on the OS map) I joined the footpath to reach Pagham Lagoon, separated from the main harbour by dam. From the Lagoon I returned to the edge of the harbour and followed it to the harbour entrance, passing a closed-up bird hide (a notice explains that it only opens in winter 'during the period of greatest ornithological interest and when shelter from the elements is most needed').

Bognor Pier
Bognor Pier

From the Harbour entrance I walked on the shingle bank to the start of a long row of bungalows occupying a space between the sea and Pagham Lagoon. Pevsner (writing in 1965) describes Pagham as '... a half-built bungalow town whose only hope is to become completely built up and achieve some kind of urban character of its own'. The building is complete, but I can't speak for the urban character.

There are good views from the Harbour entrance towards Bognor, which at this distance is rather dominated by one large block of flats and the tented roof of Butlins.

Gypsy Lee
Gypsy Lee, Bognor

As soon as I could, I dropped down to the beach, at first walking on a firm mix of shingle and sand, but later on sand proper. The walk along the beach into Bognor has a number of interesting features, including some large rock-wall groynes just beyond the entrance to Pagham Harbour, odd outfalls and the wreck of a Mulberry Harbour pontoon (a relic of the Second World War).

Nearing Bognor the beach is protected by groynes and scattered with rocks - the map shows a large scatter of rocks extending out to sea and labelled 'Bognor Rocks'. The rocks are actually formed of London Clay.

Exercise device
Exercise device, Bognor promenade

I walked under the pier, where workmen were preparing it for the annual International Bognor Birdman competition.

I was hoping for a pint in Bognor, so walked up to the promenade and had a very quick look round. There was a pub called the Waterloo Inn, but it didn't look overwhelmingly attractive, so I gave it a miss, and I didn't find any others (though I suppose they must exist). I can't say Bognor impressed me - it's not one of the south coast's best sea-side resorts.

Rock wall
Rock wall, Middleton-on-Sea

From Bognor I continued along the promenade, passing the industrial scale Butlins Holiday Centre. From the rear, which faces the sea, it's not attractive. Bognor turns into Felpham, a suburb. I was now hungry (I'd not brought sandwiches, as I'd planned a pub stop in Bognor). Felpham had two cafes. The first, the lobster Pot looked nice, but was very busy, so I went on to the Boat House. This is a spacious, though unattractive, 1960s building serving very basic food. I had an indifferent cheese and tomato sandwich.

Felpham turns into Middleton-on-Sea, where I dropped down onto the beach again. The coast here has been protected by huge rock walls, built of great blocks of grey granite, parallel to the coast, but at some distance from the shore. There are intermittent gaps in the wall, and at these gaps the sand has been scooped away to form small bays.

Canoeist, Middleton-on-Sea

Once I was beyond Middleton-on-Sea it was easier to return to top of the shingle bank, which I kept to as far as Atherington (which is not much more than a large car park). On the way I passed a number of very substantial survey stations, presumably built for monitoring the coast for sea-defence purposes.

At Atherington I walked up Climping Street to find the pub marked on the map, hoping it was open. The pub is the Black Horse, very much geared up for meals rather than beer - every table was set for food, with wine glasses stuffed with paper napkins. I had a pint of Doom Bar - not one of my favourites, but becoming ubiquitous.

View towards Arundel and the Downs, near Atherington

Returning to the sea, I again dropped down to the beach, now only a narrow strip between the sea and the shingle bank, and continued along it to Littlehampton's West Pier. I passed close to a flock of (I think) turnstones, perched above me on the shingle bank. When I was within a few feet of them, they took off and flew round me in a tight curve, settling back on the shingle behind me. It was extraordinarily beautiful.

The West Pier is not a pier, but a breakwater protecting the entrance to the River Ouse. Just round the corner is the West Beach Cafe, little sister to the East Beach Cafe Viv and I had called at on 27 February 2011 when walking from Worthing to Littlehampton. The West Beach Cafe is modern, but not as interesting architecturally as the East Beach Cafe. I stopped for a coffee, though its stock-in-trade is fish and chips.

West Pier
West Pier, Littlehampton

After finishing my coffee I took a short detour to look at the dunes behind West Beach and the remains of the West Bank Fort, built in 1854 'in response to the threat from Emperor Louis Napoleon of France' (according the information board on the site). Wikipedia says 'The fort consisted of a platform for the guns with ramparts surrounded by a nine yard (eight metre) wide ditch. The ditch incorporated a Carnot wall running along its centre. This was designed to halt attackers attempting to cross the ditch'. Only the platform and Carnot wall remain.

I then walked up the path alongside the Ouse to reach the drawbridge over the river (where boys were jumping off the bridge into the river) and on to the station for the train home.

The day did turn out to be ideal for this walk. The weather was perfect - sunny and breezy. Bognor was a disappointment (Littlehampton is much nicer), but it was a good and enjoyable walk. If you are planning to do it, make sure you have a low tide.

Wendy Ann 2
The 'Wendy Ann 2', Littlehampton