I met a fellow traveller today on Wittering Sands! John (known to his mates as John the Rambler) is also walking the whole coast – I felt a bit of a fraud as John is clearly more of a purist than me and is doing all of the islands as well, and all the inlets and creeks Basically, I am just skimming… It was a delight to meet someone to share war stories with, and we commiserated together over the horrors of the Isle of Grain and reminded each other of the delights of the Seven Sisters.
Today was a great day altogether. I managed to set out at 8am – I wish I could always begin that early but most B & Bs won’t serve breakfast early enough. The sun was shining already and I was feeling very sprightly as I hit the seashore. I walked along the prom from Bognor – the tide was high so I didn’t go down onto the beach, having suffered enough from walking on the shingle yesterday. Eventually, I came to the end of the prom and had to weave in and out of the rather plush housing estates to the West of Bognor, before emerging back onto the beach – I had to do a little trespassing through a private estate, but I couldn’t face going back to the main road. By now, the tide had receded sufficiently for me to walk on the finer shingle at the water’s edge for several miles until I turned inland to manoeuvre my way round Pagham Harbour. The further shore was so near across a channel of some 100 yards, and yet so far with the waves churning too wildly to even contemplate wading across. Nevertheless, the route around Pagham is very interesting, skirting the mud-flats which are an important bird sanctuary: there were plenty of specimens around – although I could only recognize the swans and the mallards. I reached the little village of Sidlesham Quay around 10.45 and had a coffee in the very attractive Crab & Lobster Hotel. The waitress, after one horrified glance at the trouser legs that had just navigated the mud-flats, served me an excellent cappuccino. I then broke out across country, heading south-west rather than directly south back to the beach. The lanes were full of bluebells and woodruff, and even the odd cowslip. Regrettably, the farmers of Earnley are no better at keeping the public footpaths clear than those of Littlehampton, and on one occasion I had to struggle across a heavily ploughed field.
I reached East Wittering at around quarter past one, where I met the aforementioned John (who, spotting a fellow walker, asked me the name of the village we were passing, he having come all the way along the beach). We walked along to West Witterinig, admiring the fabulously sunny afternoon, with the water sparkling in the sun and fleets of yachts bobbing up and down. In the distance, the Isle of Wight is now visible. At West Wittering, John and I parted ways and I carried on, unfortunately taking a very long diversion out to a sandy spit of land in Chichester Harbour, rather than finding the path (the New Lipchis Way) immediately. I reached Itchenor around 4.30, with the intention of crossing on the ferry to Bosham (apparently pronounced Bozzam), but I suddenly was overcome with tiredness (having covered 20 miles with my diversion), so fell into the pub. I then decided that I would sample the delights of Chichester (according to the taxi driver it is pronounced Chidester). It is certainly a very attractive town, and I will make a plan to come back when I have time to look around.
What a splendid day! But 20 miles…. Poor feet. My blister scar is whimpering in sympathy. Well done!