Saturday August 9th 2003
Bosham to West Wittering
We have now walked in a heatwave! The weather for the last week or two has been phenomenal. The temperature has been over 30°C every day and doing anything at all has been nigh on impossible. However, we had planned to walk today and as there is always a breeze at the seaside, we decided to go, even though the forecast temperature was about 34°C.
It seemed sensible to make a very early start and Glyn gave us a lift into Guildford for the 7.04 train south. We changed at Havant onto a Chichester train and at Chichester caught the bus to Bosham arriving at the waterside at 10 past 9. We had promised ourselves a look at Bosham at the end of the last walk so spent an hour exploring the village and the church, which was beautiful.
Bosham was first inhabited by the Romans who built the nearby villa at Fishbourne. They built a church here and the current church was built on the same site in the tenth century. Legend has it that King Canute lived in the village and this is one of the places which lays claim to being the site where he sat on the beach and told the sea to go away. His daughter is reputed to be buried in the church as is King Harold, who, according to local legend was brought here after the Battle of Hastings. He certainly had a home here. Bosham Church is depicted on the Bayeux tapestry and Harold and Edward the Confessor apparently met here in 1064 before Harold left for France.
Today the village is a tourist hotspot and it easy to see why. The roads are narrow and windy and the whole village is pretty and quaint. Add to the mix a couple of good pubs, lots of boats to watch from the seats on the village green and a sprinkling of craft and antique shops and you have a perfect place to visit for an afternoon out.
The one thing that catches many people out is the height of the tide. It comes in twice a day over the quay and the car park and despite the many notices, cars are rescued from the water on a regular basis.
It caught us out too as by the time we were ready to leave the village the tide was in and the road beside the shore was under water. However, a friendly van driver pointed out an alternative route along a higher path and we took that. That path led out onto the sea wall and eventually back onto the shore road further along.
We walked around the end of the bay looking back at Bosham all the time. It was slightly misty but already warm and there were children in the shallow harbour paddling a canoe and singing, which was rather resonant of Swallows and Amazon and just lovely. We sat for a few minutes on a bench, unfortunately in the sun, but with a lovely view across the bay to the church. A couple passed us who appeared to be serious walkers with proper boots and sticks and they disappeared at a good pace around the headland.
We soon followed them and as we changed direction picked up a hint of a breeze which was very welcome. Almost immediately we caught up with the couple who had found a seat under a shady oak tree just around the corner. We stopped and talked and discovered they were German and, far from walking all the way to Brighton as we had thought, were taking a short circular walk of about three miles!
We continued southwards along a good path, enjoying the activity of all the yachts in the harbour and soon rounded the corner heading towards the jetty for the Bosham ferry.
The Itchy Bosom ferry runs across Chichester Harbour from Bosham Quay to West Itchenor and also serves as a water taxi for the many yachts moored up in the several miles of the Chichester Channel.
We knew we had another mile or so to walk to the ferry landing but our surprise, we could see the boat heading for a smaller unmarked jetty where it arrived at the same time as we did. The ferryman unloaded four people and their bikes. We asked if he was going to West Itchenor to which he replied that he had to drop the other occupants of the ferry at their boat but that he would then take us to West Itchenor and that we could come along for the ride if we wished. We didn’t need asking twice and clambered aboard.
There were six people already on board, all young and loud and heading for a weekend on a boat in the harbour. Judging by the amount of beer, water, food and other provisions they were carrying it was going to be quite a party. We went quite a long way up the Chichester Channel before dropping them and their belongings at a large yacht anchored in the middle of the channel before heading to West Itchenor.
The direct crossing would have taken about two minutes but the extra journey added another ten and was very pleasant.
West Itchenor village was a little disappointing. It had no shop, which was a problem as we had planned to buy water there and there seemed to be very little else there either. We ended up buying bottles of expensive water at the pub when we stopped for a cold drink and the loo.
The path carried on along the low coast road with the sea lapping at it all the way. The sea obviously covers the path at times as there was seaweed on the inland side. And the path was a good one winding along the edge of the water but not especially interesting.
There were patches of woodland that were very welcome as the sun was blazing down and the hoped-for sea breeze had not really appeared. We looked for some suitable shade to sit down and eat lunch but it was difficult to find a good place.
The path had fallen away in places and had been repaired by means of wooden bridges to cover the gaps and we eventually sat down on one of those under another large oak tree. It was surprisingly comfortable and rather like sitting on an over sized bench with our legs dangling.
The only difference was that the ground under our feet was about 10 feet away! Here we began a new tradition; taking a photo of the view from our lunch spot!
After a good lunch stop, we carried on to the end of the path. We then had to follow anther path slightly inland, which was very hot and tantalisingly close to the sea. However, we soon came out on a headland and the final part of the walk was beside the sea again. Across the water we could see a very busy beach on the spit of land called East Head.
We stopped for the day at the edge of West Wittering at a place marked on the map as Snow Hill. We both felt fine and would probably have gone on further had the weather been suitable but it was unbearably hot so we decided to stop for the day and go home.
From Snow Hill we walked into West Wittering to the main road to find the bus stop. It was outside a pub and there was half an hour to wait, so a drink and the loo called. We caught the 2.30 bus back into Chichester then did the morning journey reversed. The trains have been delayed this week due to the heat and worries about buckling rails causing speed restrictions. We just caught the next train at each station and Glyn picked us up at North Camp in the new air-conditioned car which was a real treat!
Unfortunately the measurements for the day were not very accurate as I lost my pedometer somewhere along the way, probably in the loo at the pub in West Itchenor
Running total 83.1 miles