Try this pretty, circular coastal walk at the Chidham Peninsula
- Credit: Deirdre Huston
Set off on this picturesque walk along the coast, and through countryside, exploring the Chidham Peninsula in the Chichester Harbour Area of Natural Beauty in Sussex
Words and photos: Deirdre Huston
This stunning but easy circular path runs around Chidham Peninsula. It’s a fabulous path, offering expansive views of the Bosham and Thorney channels and towards the Harbour entrance. The main thing to watch out for, however, is the tide, as part of the route is impassable at high tide.
Along the way you can soak up views of Chichester Harbour, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a wetland of international importance. The intertidal areas in the harbour area provide valuable habitats, such as saltmarsh. Terns and waders nest through spring and summer, while over 55,000 waders and waterfowl can be found there over the winter months. The area is also associated with Solent Seals but it’s a rare visitor who has the privilege of spotting these curious marine mammals resting on the mudflats.
You may spy the remains of a possible quay at Cobnor Hard, on the east coast of the Chidham Peninsula. Look for stumps protruding from the mud in front of the boathouse.
From the Iron Age through to Roman times, salt working was important in this area, as the sheltered low-level marshes of Chichester Harbour were well-suited to salt production. In later times, Kelly’s Directory of Sussex in 1822, reveals a number of residents listing their occupation as ‘market gardener’. The area even had its own grain: Chidham wheat. It's all wrapped up in this wonderful walk.
1. Go up steps and turn left. Walk along the edge of a field. Ahead, see Holy Trinity Church, Bosham.
2. At the estuary, follow the path right. Pass a marker post, and continue along the water’s edge. Pass a pool enjoyed by waders. Walk past another marker post.
3. Just before the pier and Christian Youth Centre, go right to leave the water’s edge briefly, walking along a signed footpath. Cross the lane, and continue along the waymarked path. After the centre, continue along the water’s edge around Cobnor Point. At high tide, there will be water on both sides.
4. Reach Cobnor Foreshore. Check tide times: the coastal path runs along the shore and, at high tide, there is no alternative. Descend some steep steps to continue along the beach. Pass a bird hide.
5. Walk along an embankment path, created for flood management. See crop fields on your right, with Nutbourne Marsh Nature Reserve on the left. Follow the waymarked path through a gap, and along the top of a beach.
6. Turn right just beyond a fence on a water conduit. Walk along the edge of a crop field. At the road, turn right briefly.
7. After a few steps, at the signpost, turn left on a footpath along the edge of a field.
8. Follow the lane straight ahead, past the walled Manor House. The road curves right past the church.
9. Just past the church, either take a short diversion and follow the lane around towards the pub, or continue and turn left along a grassy unsigned path. Emerge onto a field and walk left past Chidham Pond: although you cannot see it from this side, you may hear the birds. Turn left at the marker post along a narrow path.
10. Turn right along the road to reach the car park.
Location: Chidham Peninsula.
Distance: Five miles (8.1 km) - two hours to walk plus stops.
Important: One section floods at high tide. Check tidal charts before setting out.
Terrain: Flat, some beach walking, no stiles. Can be muddy or slippery after high tide.
Terrain (easy access): After the youth centre, a wheelchair accessible section of path heads south towards Cobnor Point. Steep steps must be negotiated to descend to the beach.
Where to park: Cobnor Farm Amenity Car Park, Chidham Lane, near Chidmere Pond. Free parking with 1.8m height barrier.
Sat Nav: PO18 8TD (continue along the lane to the car park).
Map: OS Explorer 120.
Dog-friendly: Yes, but on lead near nesting sites and the nature reserve.
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Where to stop to eat and drink
Have a picnic with a sea view: Pack some sandwiches and take a seat on one of the occasional benches or fortuitous driftwood and pause for a picnic while watching the waves roll in.
A short stroll from the route: The Old House at Home, Chidham, is a traditional free house, which stocks a good range of independent beers. Booking is essential. Cot Lane, Chidham, West Sussex, PO18 8SU. 01243 572477, theoldhouseathome.co.uk
Nearby: The Bosham Inn, Chidham is friendly, with a large garden and car park. Booking is advised. Main Road, Bosham, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8PW. 01243 575027, vintageinn.co.uk