Right in the west of West Sussex, you find Chichester Harbour and this Sussex coastal walk. Chichester Harbour is a large natural harbour (so don’t expect a neat little port) that spreads across the border from West Sussex into Hampshire. The harbour and its surroundings are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
There are a number of pretty villages that sit harbourside which include Bosham and West Itchenor and there are a series of peninsulas that make up the shape of the harbour. And one of these is Chidham. Chidham has a long past which dates back to Saxon times and before, and it’s thought Saint Cuthman may have been born here. The little church of St. Mary’s in the village dates from the 13th century.
Walking at Chidham
Follow the A259 and then turn south off it for parking at Chidham or nearby Southbourne / Prinsted, just at the entrance to Thorney Island. For our walk, we parked at Southbourne.
If coastal walking is for you, this is a great spot and you have the choice of numerous routes, short and long. But check the tide times before you set off because some of the route is right on the water’s edge.
Thorney Island to Cobnor Point (5km)
From the car park, head east along the path. If you look back, you can see Thorney Island marina. But for your purposes, just follow the edge of the land that takes you around the Nutbourne Channel part of the harbour, past Chidham Point and then down the west side of the Chidham peninsula and the Nutbourne Marsh Nature Reserve to Cobnor Point.
Chichester Harbour is made up of mudflats and is home to a variety of wildlife. There are birds a plenty here and in particular, you may spot waders, waterfowl, and terns and waders (in spring and summer). If you are lucky, you might see seals and the saltmarsh habitat is home to plant species like Sea Beet, Glasswort and Sea Purslane. As you near the southern tip at Cobnor Point, this is where the path goes along the foreshore, which is underwater at high tide.
The views down the west side of the peninsula are across to Thorney Island but as you round the tip of the peninsula, you have views across to West Itchenor and Bosham Hoe in the distance.
Cobnor Point to Chidham (2.3 km)
As you start to walk up the east side of the peninsula, you overlook Bosham estuary. A boardwalk takes you across watery but picturesque mudflats before you carry on up the east side (leaving the water’s edge only briefly at the pier).
After 2 km, you’ll come to a footpath to your left which you follow until you come to a little lane. Turn left onto this into Chidham village. It’s very pretty here. Follow the lane, turning left into Cot Lane and past the church and The Old House at Home pub.
Chidham back to the car park (4 km)
As you leave the village, you take a footpath to your left which takes you across fields and back to the west side of the peninsula. From here, you follow your route back to the car park. Don’t worry if you miss the turn, there’s a second one a little further on. If you fancy a longer walk, keep going and walk around Thorney Island.
Places to eat nearby:
The Old House at Home in Chidham: dating back to the 18th Century, this traditional pub has wooden beams, open fireplaces and a garden.
The Anchor Bleu in Bosham: right on the harbourside this is a family-run pub in the hopelessly pretty village of Bosham.
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