Day 87: English Coastal Path

D87: BOGNOR REGIS to CHICHESTER

Friday 9th September 2022

Today miles: 31.1 Total miles: 1452.5

I awoke early and arrived at Bognor Regis train station around 7.30am. Less then twenty minutes of walking and I had arrived back on the English Coastal Path. My left foot felt a lot better after my unscheduled rest day at Brighton Youth Hostel and I was raring to go.
Gemma contacted me yesterday and told me the terrible news about the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I’m an unashamed royalist and it’s a sad, sad day for Britain.
The ground was still soaked from all the rain that had fallen on the south coast over the last forty eight hours. Within a few minutes the route passed by the tiny Bognor Regis pier which must hold the record as the shortest pier that I’ve passed by on the English Coastal Path. After my initial two miles of promenade walking the route continued along the beach. The tide was on its way out which meant I could easily walk along the sand below the mean water line without getting my feet wet. The route then turned inland to go around Pagham Harbour, which is actually now a bird sanctuary.

The whole of Pagham harbour was drained in the 1870’s and an embankment built to turn the marsh into farmland however a section of the embankment was breached in the early 20th century during a storm and never repaired. This small 50m gap in the sea wall now means a four mile walk around the harbour. The walking was actually pretty good in most part, the only issue was a short section close to the marsh which was slippery and I eventually ended up on my backside in the mud. I arrived on the far side of the harbour around 11am and when back on the coastline I took my first decent refreshment break. I moved inland again to get towards Selsey Bill. Until now the wind and the waves had been relatively gentile but as I turned the corner at Selsey Bill the atmosphere changed. The waves were no longer gently lapping on the shore but instead now loudly bashing away at the shingle and the sea wall. After passing through Selsey Bill I used a series of public footpaths to work my way around Medmerry Nature Reserve. Some paths were better then others but there were no real difficulties.

The next three miles were along the edge of the shingle through East and then West Wittering. As much as I hate walking on shingle, this was actually fairly pleasant. I arrived at the spit at the mouth of Chichester Harbour around 2pm and took another short break. I had originally intended on camping shortly after West Wittering but I was enjoying the walking so decided to just carry on for as long as I could. The first half of the walk towards Chichester was right along the edge of the harbour and there were several warning signs about possible flooding at high tide. Eventually the path took me back onto the embankment and I noticed that dark clouds were gathering overhead. By sheer good luck I passed by an open cafe at West Itchenor just seconds before the heavens opened up. The next two miles around Chichester Harbour was across several marinas and lots of enormous, expensive looking houses. I also noted some ECP finger signs. I decided to detour slightly across the A27 and dropped into the Asda superstore on the outskirts of Chichester to grab some additional food and water. I sat outside the store eating my food, once again I encountered several uncomfortable looks from strangers.

Back on the trail I now skirted along the Western edge of Chichester Harbour for about 2 miles. The sun was beginning to set and after a little bit of back and forth I eventually found a nice place to set up camp. Later that night I encountered a couple of teenagers out illegally ‘rabbiting’ with lurcher dogs. I initially freaked out when they shone their bright torch into my tent, but they were pleasant enough. We chatted for a while before I cooked myself a hot meal and then settled down to watch a movie on my iPad. A long day of 30+ miles but mostly enjoyable.

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