The Chichester Ship Canal is an increasing delight and asset to the City with more visitors and locals making use of its many pleasures.
It is a prime spot for canoeists and rowers who can go up and down in whatever weather thanks to its protective location. Rowing boat hire is also possible from its main start at the Canal Basin at the Southern end of Chichester. Also from the Canal Centre you can go out on canal boat cruises- these can be a special charter trip – for example for a celebration eg a Hen party or birthday or one of the many informative tours which happen all year round. There are also themed tours – eg to Hunt the Easter Bunny or to see Father Christmas – pre-booking is essential for these!
The Chichester Ship canal dates back to the 19th Century and links the City with Chichester Harbour via Hunston. Not all of it is navigable, and at its exit the lock is no longer in use due to the permanent houseboats next to the Yacht Basin in Birdham.
The Canal itself has well maintained banks with stunning views – including ones from Hunston bridge back to the City which was painted by Constable in the evening. The well maintained footpath / cyclepath which runs alongside is well used, especially by commuters from Hunston. One of the main advantages to taking a walk is that there are plenty of benches on which to rest and take in the peaceful scenery and watch the wildlife going about its day from.
You may be able to see kingfishers and cormorants hunting the many fish in the canal. The large carp and tench are easy to spot but if you look carefully through the clear waters you can see stickleback, perch and pike.
The swan family who nest each year near to the Basin are familiar to many but there are many ducks, moorhens and coots along the canal plus the majestic grey herons and white egrets. With good tree and shrub cover in which to hide and nest long-tailed, great and blue tits are common, along with gold and greenfinches. Blackbirds and thrushes are also common. Some parts of the canal have nearby rookeries and many other species visit for water and food.
The Canal Basin shop and Cafe are well worth a visit – they serve lovely food and the volunteers are knowledgeable about the history of the canal too.
So, if you have some time and want a different experience – visit the Chichester Ship Canal for a few hours – it will entertain the whole family!
© Gayle Palmer. Chichester Self Catering and Hen Party Haven.