Monday 28th July 2003
The weather was a little uncertain today but we decided to head out for a walk as Jen had a day off. We caught Jen’s usual workday train out of Ash at 8.01 and arrived at Nutbourne at about quarter to ten. Nutbourne station is north of the A259 coast road, so we crossed with care and picked up the path through the oil seed rape field that we had left in the spring. The rape had been harvested and the field was now full of wheat and, despite the early hour, there were lots of sailing boats out in the bay.
We set off along the path leading down the western side of the Chidham peninsula and were surprised to encounter quite a few other walkers including a large group of obviously retired people gathering for their ramble. However, we soon left them all behind as we strode southwards. The whole of this small peninsula is below sea level and is good quality productive farmland, protected by what is known locally as the tidewall, a high bank of varying height, width and construction. Most of the way the inland side has a drop of about twelve feet with a drainage ditch full of evil looking water at its foot. The seaward side was once concreted and has been repaired over many years with heaps of boulders and random bits of stone, and slopes gently onto a narrow sand and mud foreshore. The whole bank was planted with the thick marram grass that was to make our walk difficult all the way.
As we strolled happily in single file along a particularly narrow stretch of path, I suddenly found myself, to my amazement, rolling gently down the bank, having missed my footing on the path above. Or as Jen put it, “I heard a kind of squeak, turned round and you were gone!” By good fortune, I fell toward the sea, not down the other side with its long drop and my fall was broken by some thick grass on a part of bank that was devoid of boulders and concrete. On the way, I managed to acquire sandy earth in my mouth, ears, up my nose and everywhere else that was open. I quickly found my feet and scrambled along the beach for a while until I found a place to climb the bank again. Then we discovered that two of my fingers were quite badly cut by the sharp grass and I was dripping blood! So that’s why we carry a first aid kit! It didn’t take long to clean up and apply a couple of plasters though and we carried on.
The bank continued almost to the southern end of the peninsula when it disappeared and we found ourselves walking along a rather dubious beach. It seemed to be a place where rubbish washes up and there was lots of driftwood, plastic bottles and a fair amount of random flotsam and jetsam. Woodland came right down to the beach here and we photographed these amazing oak trees with their roots holding precariously to the bank.
Soon we heard a strange bird making peculiar screeching sounds that looked rather like a gull but not quite. We met a couple walking the other way who stopped to chat and to ask if they could look at our map to find a path inland to reach a pub! They told us that the bird was an oystercatcher.
Soon we rounded the point of the peninsula which is called Copnor Point. There was a better path here and even a seat on which we felt obliged to sit for a while as it had been so thoughtfully placed in such a beautiful spot! The views on the eastern side were much pleasanter with lots of sailing boats, including a large party of identical boats in which children were learning to sail. We also caught our first glimpse of Bosham across the water.
Soon we had to turn inland behind a sailing club before picking up the path along the water’s edge again. We were looking for a good place to sit down for lunch now but the path was incredibly narrow and overgrown and there was nowhere. Eventually we came to a place where the path widened a little giving a grassy verge so we settled there for while. However, it was not very comfortable and it began to drizzle so we pushed on quickly.
After another couple of miles, the path beside the sea ended and tuned inland up a small flight of steps.At the top of the steps was a very narrow path running through the garden of a house, bordered by a high thick hedge with pink flowers which was very pretty and, we thought, a good way to cope with the inconvenience of a footpath running through your garden.
The path ended in the drive of the house and emerged onto a wide road bordering an inlet. The road contained several huge beautiful houses, some old, some new. We regained the path, once more on the top of a high bank, along the edge of the water. It was now extremely hard walking, mainly because it was so overgrown with marram grass again which scratched our legs and because it was very narrow, made me extremely cautious. However the A259 was well in sight and sound and we knew the path ended there so we pressed on. Eventually the path petered out completely and it was clear that previous walkers had dropped down into the field below. We were reluctant to do this, in part because the farmer and his workers were in the field harvesting vegetables. There seemed to be no choice, so we took advantage of the farmer coming towards us in his tractor to seek permission to walk to the main road through his field. To our surprise, he told us that the path ran along the edge of the field anyway, not along the bank and that we were welcome to walk along it and wasn’t it a lovely day and yes thank you his harvest was good and being gathered in at a very satisfactory rate!
The path finished at the main road, with a beautiful little footbridge over a stream that made up for some of the difficult walking. We had hoped to reach Bosham but were feeling very tired as it had been hard going and we had not had a proper stop at lunch time. So we decided to walk a little way along the road to find a pub and have a drink before catching a bus back to Havant.
We could see a pub sign 100 yards down the road back towards Nutbourne, so wandered along to it, then realised that from there we could see the place where we had crossed the road in the morning to begin the walk! So a whole day’s walking and we were about half a mile from the start!
The pub was very pleasant with lots of kiddie-space outside and soft sofas inside. We had a very welcome cold drink, used the loo and brushed the tangles from our hair. By the time we had been there for half an hour we decided we felt so much better that we would, after all, tackle the last couple of miles to Bosham.
The way led along the main road for a mile or so then down a path across a wheat field back to the water with Chidham now across the bay. It then followed the harbour’s edge but inside a field with a fence on the seaward side. Soon we were on the outskirts of Bosham and it was easy to follow the beach to the quay. We had been discussing which saint the church at Bosham would be dedicated to. Jen picked St John and I picked St Mary. We were both wrong as it turned out to be Holy Trinity! We had a rest and a water stop on a bench near the church then she wandered across to check the bus times. Panic! The buses back to Chichester ran once an hour on the half hour. It was then 25 past 3! We gathered our belongings together and found our way very quickly towards the bus stop where the driver was just starting the engine and closing the doors. So having walked 9 ½ miles we ran for the bus!
We enjoyed the journey back into Chichester and promised ourselves an hour in Bosham to look at the church and village next time. We came back the same way through Havant and Guildford. With the extra bits we walked, we had done just less than 12 miles when we got home and were scratched, battered and bruised but had thoroughly relished our day by the sea once again.
Running Total 77.7 miles