New Lipchis Way: Chichester to West Wittering and East Head walk
A quiet canal, the shoreline of Chichester Harbour, West Wittering beach, and East Head spit. Return by bus.
12.8 miles (20.6 km) No ascent.
|Toughness||2 out of 10|
|OS Maps||Explorer Map OL8 (was 120)|
This is an easy walk along the final section of the New Lipchis Way. It starts in the historic cathedral town of Chichester and heads south, inland at first along a quiet canal, then a disused section of canal teaming with wildlife, then via the shoreline of Chichester's large tidal harbour to West Wittering's wide sandy beach and East Head - a very pretty sand spit at the harbour entrance. Return to Chichester is by frequent bus.
The New Lipchis Way runs from Liphook ("Lip") to Chichester ("chis") and is marked on OS maps. This is its final section. It has been adopted by Chichester Council. It is poorly waymarked on the ground - you'll need a map, as some waymarks are missing, and they don't indicate direction. With a map, you'll have no problem!
The walk starts by Chichester station. North of the station is the Cathedral and pedestrianised historic centre. Do take time to wander around it at the start or end of the walk. The route heads south (away from the old town), following the Chichester Ship canal.
Soon the canal becomes unnavigable to boats (it was poorly built), and this section is quiet and teaming with wildlife with many nesting birds in the Spring
After 5 km (3 miles), you continue to follow the canal, but along a tarmac road to pass through a large marina (for 1 km) to reach the harbour's edge. The path detours inland (for 2 km), passing some spectacular houses (i.e. no harbour views) before rejoining the coast for the remainder of the walk. This is the least interesting section of the walk.
The rest of the walk follows the harbour's very picturesque shoreline to West Wittering.
Lunch is either at a popular pub, The Ship Inn, or a little further along at the harbour-side The Quarterdeck Cafe, both in West Itchenor. Inbetween those two is the harbour with its slipway, a good spot for a picnic lunch, from which it's interesting to watch boats being launched and recovered. Harbour boat tours leave from a small jetty near by (for seal spotting, ask beforehand as they are seasonal). There is also a summer weekend ferry to Bosham (£2.50 each way).
After lunch, continue along the partially shaded shoreline (many excellent picnic spots), until you come to West Wittering's very busy wide sandy beach and the highlight of the walk - East Head - a sand dune spit that curls out across the entrance to Chichester Harbour.
After a loop of the spit, walk along the sea facing, and very popular in the summer, part of the beach, then head inland to West Wittering village for a frequent (2 to 4 per hour) 20 minute bus ride back to Chichester. There is the Old House at Home pub to wait in, or The Landing cafe just around the corner.
Reverse the Walk: this may make sense especially if the tide is low in the morning, as you get to experience more of the sandy beaches. Also brings into play a couple of tea stops en route (see below).
You could catch the 52/53 bus to the 'Chichester Marina' bus stop, but you only save about 4km (and its a nice section of the walk!) - the walk goes done the marina access road.
You could stay on the 52/53 bus a little further to Birdham, but it is a (quiet) 1.5 km road walk to the join the route (map required), so you only save 5.5 km total.
The harbour side part from West Itchenor onwards. and especially East Head spit itself, is by far the best part of the walk. So, the best option for a short walk is to take the bus to West Wittering, and do the second half of the walk in 2 out-and-back bits - East Head and back, then West Itchenor and back.
Even for car drivers, an out-and-back coast walk is the best option (though parking in West Itchenor might be easier). The 52/53 bus doesn't really help, unless you start in Birdham as above - doing the coast section twice would be nicer.
Trains from London Victoria to Chichester take 1 hour 30 mins. 2 trains an hour.
There are about 4 buses an hour, even in winter, back from West Wittering (#52 or #53, take whichever comes first in either direction, stop is by The Old House at Home pub) to Chichester bus station. £3.80 single (12/2019, with a £2 after 7pm offer).
On sunny summer weekend evenings, and daily during school holidays, buses can be busy, or even full, and it can take longer than the usual 20 mins due to traffic leaving West Wittering beach.
By Car: there is an expensive car park at West Wittering beach, although you can usually park in the village for free. Might be easiest to park in Donnington or Hunston villages near the start.
Notes for drivers. Clockwise.
NB It's not possible to walk along the 'bottom' of the peninsular, from West Wittering along the coast to Selsey Bill, as the coast has been breached by a new tidal bird reserve.
Pagham Harbour and Church Norton
Pagham Harbour, on the east side of the 'peninsular' is recommended - park at the harbour entrance, either north or south (they are a very long drive apart).
Selsey (a big Asda at the entrance) has a pretty Each Beach (parking, kids area, cafe, fresh fish sellers). You could walk from here to to Pagham Harbour / Church Norton, and then head inland to catch the bus back on the B2145 Chichester to Selsey road.
It doesn't have much of a centre, and there isn't much at Selsey Bill (the headland), but West Beach, much more quiet is nice.
Beyond West Beach (there's a path) is a massive collection of caravan parks (no car access unless you are staying there), and beyond that is the Medmerry nature reserve.
RSPB Medmerry / Bracklesham Bay
You can not (officially) walk across the mouth of the inlet. There is a very long perimeter path.
East Wittering, which is more down market than West Wittering, it has a small Tesco, pubs and chippies. After a caravan park is a long but quiet stretch of coast until you reach the new nature reserve.
A large and very popular sandy beach, with an expensive car park
|Version||Updated Dec 2019|
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Out (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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