“We’re all going on a.. Summer holiday!”
Well – you know the rest! This is perhaps one of the few places that is universally LOVED by the British, of all generations. At Chichester Self Catering we have all sorts of beaches almost on the doorstep – including Blue Flag ones! (This means they are very clean and well managed.)
The best known beach – for many, many miles around is West Wittering. It is so popular there are queues both to get into the car park (it’s private!) which is massive but still gets full!; and then later to get off the beach in the peak weekends and Summer holidays!! They often go in both directions at the same time!
Why be prepared to wait in a hot car for a few hours?
- Well – it IS stunning.
- Fine white sand.
- A wide expanse of beach at low tide and mainly shallow water when the tide is in.
- So its great for swimming, kite and wave boarding, windsurfing and more – especially when its windy. They are in a designated area unless they move further offshore.
- Icecream and drinks outlets
Parking costs are £8 per car per day (and no return). The car park closes at 8.30pm and opens at 6.30am during the Summer.
There are some rip currents which you have to be careful of at certain states of the tide and wind – they can easily sweep you (or a child) off their feet – but they can be seen easily. Just be aware – ALL water can be dangerous.
Most people hardly move from where they park their cars to get to the beach – so the main car park and beach area can be maddeningly busy! I guess its all the parapheranlia which we seem to think we “need” – umbrellas, windshields, picnics, towels, changes of clothes, entertainment – buckets and spades, balls.. etc etc.
For weather info look up: http://2xs.co.uk/weather/
From 1st May to 30th September, dogs are excluded from the main swimming beach between groynes numbered 14a to 18 – roughly in front of the beach huts. Owners are expected to clear up after their pets and NEVER leave your dog in the car – even on overcast days. They will still cook! There is a beach wheelchair available – it must be pre-booked but makes it possible to move about more easily.
But, if you are prepared to travel light, and walk a bit further…
The West Wittering Estate car park leads onto East Head – which is managed by the National Trust. This relatively speaking, is an oasis of calm – and a fine walk at whatever time of year. Most people here have come by boat – from around Chichester Harbour – of various types. Sit and watch the waterside shenannigans of anchoring, mooring up, sailing off etc at the busy anchorage.
East Head is the sand dune spit situated at the eastern side of the entrance to Chichester Harbour. It is a stunning example of a natural and dynamic coastal feature which is of great interest to environmentalists and ecologists because of its fragile nature. It is an SSSI (site of special scientific interest) and a Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance).
The Harbour is an area of outstanding natural beauty with views to the South Downs, the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth and to the Eastern end of the Isle of Wight.
So… what about other beaches in the area?
Selsey has several – East and West Beach.
East Beach is much more protected – being in the lee of Selsey Bill and away from the prevailing SW wind. It can be easily accessed from the large East Beach car park – follow the signs as you enter the town – bear left at the roundabout. In the Summer watch out for Lifeboat Week activities and other Festivals / Carnivals here.
It is flinty which leads down to a mixed flint / sand beach. It is not a wide beach as it shelves quite steeply. There is a good level concrete promenade though from near the Bill further east with great views to Aldwick Bay and Bognor beyond. You cannot get further East than Pagham Harbour.
This section of beach – Church Norton Beach – best accessed by car via the St Wilfrids Chapel lane at the Norton corner before Selsey involves a half mile walk around the inner edge of the Harbour. (Go down by the side of the remains of the Medieval mound / castle next to the church!) Once there though you have most of the beach to yourself even on a Bank holiday! You can walk all along to Pagham Spit – but be wary of the fast flowing water on the Harbour side and keep well away during storms – you can get easily dragged into the water by huge waves. This is my favourite quiet place to go.
West Beach is really part of the Bunn Leisure Complex and not easy to access, or especially safe due to rip tide currents much of the time.
Medmerry Beach – our newest accessible area of shoreline – go to the car park at Earnley or by Bunn Leisure at Selsey and walk down
to it. Do NOT attempt to cross the Medmerry channel as it is deep with fast flowing water. This beach – is by far the quietest in the whole area – and goes on for miles! Mainly flinty it is a wild area – reserved for the wildlife and managed by the RSPB. Loved by the migratory and wading birds, it is also home to Little Owls and other raptors, water voles and other small mammals too. Plus there are plenty of deer. Walking, cycle, bridle and wheelchair accessible routes across much of the reserve. A good place to teach youngsters to respect the wilder parts of the country.
Top Tips for Beaches!
- Always take sufficient clothing for weather and sun protection. eg hats, long sleeved shirts
- Always take some water – it is easy to get dehydrated.
- If you take a disposible BBQ – DO NOT bury it in the sand after – the edges and rack are very sharp and will cut people’s feet very easily. Dispose of in the bins.
- Take all your rubbish home with you please, even biodegradable. Do NOT let plastic bags blow about.
- Put plenty of suntan lotion on – especially children; and reapply regularly.
- Wait half an hour at least between eating and swimming – your blood is needed to digest your food and so gets diverted to your gut. Swimming diverts your blood to the periphery and your muscles – there is a conflict and it can lead to cramps and drowning!
- Be mindful of other people also using the beach, especially the children.
- Only take what money or valuables you NEED. ie decant out of your pockets what is not necessary.
- Introduce very young children to the water gently – paddling is good. Maybe encourage spatial awareness with an activity eg digging in the sand to engage their brains and bodies.
- NEVER lose sight of your child! (Sometimes easier said than done). Consider writing your mobile phone number on their arm in case they get lost.
Lastly – best TOP TIP!
How to avoid the car queues! If you must go to West Wittering beach – go via Bracklesham Bay and East Wittering to West Wittering – whether you are coming from Sidlesham or Birdham. It will shorten the queue by about 5miles! Note: The road to the West Wittering Estate car park is the only way in. Parking restrictions operate around W Wittering village…
So – enjoy our wonderful beaches, stay safe and have fun!
© Gayle Palmer Chichester Self Catering