The sound of waves breaking gently on the shore is always food for the soul and the Sussex coast offers up some amazing destinations for anyone who yearns for the sea. I’ve never really explored the Felpham area of the West Sussex coast so a two-night escape to the Beachcroft Hotel Beach Hut Suites gave me a chance to do just that.
Felpham is a village that dates back to before the Domesday Book and still has a number of old and interesting buildings. It nudges up against the sea and the Beachcroft Hotel Beach Hut Suites sit right on the seafront on a corner of the Bognor Regis Promenade that runs from Aldwick in the west almost to Middleton and Elmer in the east. It’s a quiet and restorative spot, with that laid-back seaside vibe, and is somewhere that you won’t want to leave.
Actively doing nothing
Whilst there is joy to be had in doing absolutely nothing, I have never been very good at that. But the joy of a stay at the Beachcroft Beach Hut Suites is that you can take part in a unique type of triathlon – swim, cycle, and walk straight from your Beach Hut door and with minimal amounts of energy and effort used. The hotel has a pool so I started my leisurely workout by booking myself in for an arrival swim on the first day. What a great way to start to unwind. Part one of my triathlon was in the bag.
Bike hire is complimentary at the Beachcroft Hotel Beach Huts and the promenade along the seafront is gloriously straight and flat. So after a wholesome breakfast in the hotel on day one, it was time for a very gentle spin. Heading west it’s a 2.5 km cycle to Aldwick (where you run out of promenade cycle path and have to take to the road if you want to go further). Heading east, you have a promenade cycle path for about 1.5 km but again, you can take to the roads if you want to go on. Helmet hire and bike padlocks are included.
With very little effort required, part two of your triathlon is complete. And there is something rather gloriously refreshing about rolling along with the feel of a warm breeze on your face and fresh sea air in your hair whilst you search for nothing more onerous than a coffee. This is the sort of light touch exercise that I love and it makes you feel righteously entitled to a hearty lunch and dinner and all the little treats in between. You’ve earned it after all!
For part three of your triathlon, all that is really required of you is a gentle potter along the beach as and if you feel like it. On day two, I was going to go into the sea for a dip but in the end, I opted for a stroll instead. The tide was out, there were vast stretches of empty sandy beach, and the sun was shining. After a quick coffee on our balcony watching the world wake up, I headed off to feel the sand between my toes and search out the catch of the day coming in. There is something very special about being by the sea early in the morning and I could have walked for miles. Job done. Triathlon complete.
Actively doing something
If you want to be a little more than lightly active, ask at the hotel about their paddleboarding, their guided sea swimming, and their guided mountain biking on the South Downs.
Exploring Felpham and Bognor
One of Felpham’s more famous residents was poet William Blake. He wrote the lines of the song Jerusalem, “England’s green and pleasant land“. He lived in what is now known as Blake’s Cottage from 1800 to 1803 and there is now a William Blake Trail which takes in various highlights (and low points) of his life. I found four of the trail information boards which include his cottage (just the outside – you’re not able to go in at present) and they guide you around Felpham and other parts of the area such as Hotham Park.
St Mary’s church in Felpham has origins that date back to the Saxon era but was rebuilt successively from 1100 onwards. Some of the Norman wall remains. There are also a couple of good pubs in Felpham namely The Fox and The Thatched House.
If you want to stray into Bognor, there are six Heritage Trail routes which are a great way of unearthing some of the town’s interesting history and beautiful architecture. Bognor Regis is awash with blue plaques and has a great little museum as well as lots of lovely little parks and gardens like Marine Park Gardens and Hotham Park (with the renowned Alice in Wonderland sculptures).
In your Beach Huts, you’ll find a booklet with 10 suggested walks in the surrounding countryside and within a short drive. There really are some amazing areas to explore around here and Pagham, Slindon, Arundel and Amberley all offer up fabulous walks. Or from your doorstep, you could just walk the New England Coastal trail until such time as you feel you’ve run out of shoe leather (and then get the bus back). Beautiful Climping is not far down the coast and you can stop for coffee there.
Other treats in the area include a visit to Tinwood Vineyard for wine tasting, tours or their harvest experience, and a walk to Halnaker Windmill and Boxgrove ruins. And I haven’t even mentioned nearby Chichester and all that is on offer there.
You can find out more about special packages, prices and booking your stay here: Beachcroft Hotel Beach Hut Suites
For things to do in the area, you might be interested in: