Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Chidham Peninsula

Chidham Church
After our trip to Seaford and Cuckmere Haven we were lucky enough to have even better weather the following day.  The sun was out in full and the wind had dropped and there was an appetite for more coastal walking from my gang.  We decided to go somewhere a little less exposed this time and headed to a very different part of the coast; Chidham Peninsula.  This forgotten area of Sussex is a surprisingly lonely part of the Chichester Harbour AONB, comprising of a low lying area of marshy land (much drained) jutting out into the Harbour opposite the attractive village of Bosham.

We parked at the south end of the scattered Chidham village and decided that we would undertake the walk in the opposite direction from the suggested route in our Pathfinder Guide (vol 52 “More Sussex”, walk 8) so that we could make the most of seeing the sunset on Bosham village.  It also meant that we could get the majority of the non-shoreline part of the walk out of the way early on.
Early Gorse

Just out of the car park and our path headed down the side of Chidmere Pond, a fairly substantial looking body of water that was rather disappointingly shielded from view by a line of trees.  My guess is that this is probably private fishing water and the fishermen want a bit of privacy.  At the other end of the lake we had our first encounter with sticky mud – it would be by no means the last of the day.  The brief encounter was enough though to put us off taking a look inside the rather pleasant looking church at the other end of the path.  We did linger to take a look around the churchyard however – it looked like a very peaceful place to spend eternity.
Geese Fly

Our onward path headed along a field boundary where we caught a blast of icy north wind coming straight into our faces.  It was a relief to face away from it when we turned direction towards the coast but then had to negotiate yet more mud along the path.  Worse was to follow when we got to the low sea wall that protects the Chidham Peninsula as we had to cross what could only be described as a bog.  Thankfully when we got to the shore we could walk along the beach and this was relatively easy going.

Chidham Trees
The walk along the shore was delightful – this was a walk I had done a few years ago when walking the length of the Sussex Coast but it hadn’t been anything like as sunny that day. There was a surprising amount of warmth in the sun even though the air temperature was pretty cold.  The shoreline is pretty uniform for quite some distance and navigation could not have been easier in the sense that all we had to do was follow it all the way around the peninsula.
Portsmouth Skyline

Every now and again we would have to swap between the beach and the sea wall as the going wasn’t that easy.  Some stretches of the beach weren’t that easy to walk along but the top of the sea wall was intermittent with muddy stretches too.  If the weather hadn’t been so glorious this would have been a fairly unpleasant walk but as it was it just made for an unwelcome distraction.

Rest Awhile
Every now and again large flocks of geese would get spooked and fly across the sky in huge numbers.  This area is a common feeding ground for all manner of sea birds but for the most part we didn’t see too many as we had neglected to bring our binoculars which was a great pity.

Cobnor Point
At the southern end of the peninsula the character of the shoreline changed.  We passed by some old piling which was apparently an attempt at reclaiming some land from the sea back in the day.  There was also once a tidal mill here too although that is long gone as well.  The shoreline down to Cobnor Point has a rather attractive stand of trees all the way along it and without their summer clothing I found their bare branches rather fascinating to look at.  We paused for a refreshment stop and enjoyed the view across the main body of water of Chichester Harbour.  As we sat there another flock of geese flew overhead and settled out on one of the mudbanks in the water.  It almost felt like being in the midst of an airport!

Cobnor Point
By now we had the realisation that we still had a fair way to walk and that our daylight was rapidly running out!  We had to up our pace along the stretch from Cobnor Point to Cobnor House and beyond.  It seemed a shame to rush this section as it is one of my favourite stretches of the entire Sussex Coast.  The view across the water to Bosham and to the Downs far away in the distance is quite remarkable and looked particularly good in the fading sun.  If there is a more serene view in all of Sussex I would like to see it!  Boats bobbing about on the water and the orange glow of the setting sun on the steeple of Bosham church made for a particularly appealing scene.  The walking itself was quite interesting too, for the early part from Cobnor Point was largely via a wooden walkway across the edge of the shore.  For some reason such additions always seem to make a walk that much more memorable for me.

Bosham View
At Cobnor House we had to divert away from the shoreline briefly to negotiate around a sailing club.  There was a surprising amount of activity going on despite the lateness of the hour.  My eyes were drawn to a large houseboat moored here, although I was unable to get any kind of decent picture.  The last mile or so of the walk was a bit of a trial as this was possibly the muddiest section and we were all too aware of the setting sun and fading light behind us.  Fortunately with a few sweets the girls summoned up enough energy to make it through to the car park before the light properly faded on us.

Sun Down
This was a delightful walk and even the mud didn’t spoil it too much.  The going is pretty easy and at 5 miles in length makes for a good walk to undertake in the winter as there should be few problems making it back before getting dark.  The views across the harbour are sublime and the area is sufficiently quiet that you shouldn’t have to share your walk with too many people.  All in all a very different kind of coastal experience from the last outing but every bit as enjoyable.

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