I was certainly doing well for weather during this year because this was another lovely day with a cloudless sky and pleasant temperature. For this walk I was starting from home and drove down to Bognor Regis via the A3, A27 and A259. I parked at the station car park because I would be returning by train and also this was much cheaper at the weekend than the Council car parks (this is now only the case on Sundays).
From there I walked down to the sea front to rejoin the promenade next to the pier where I had finished the previous walk.
The tide was further out this time and so only the end of the pier had any water under it. I had always associated Bognor with having a shingle beach but to my surprise there was quite a bit of sand at the shoreline. So rather than stick the promenade I headed down to the firm sand by the shoreline to start with.
There were several flags flying and I was pleased to see that one was the Blue Flag award (which it no longer has), the other a Seaside award (which it does still have) so the water was clean. As I headed eastwards though the amount of pebbles increased and the groynes grew longer and larger so I returned to the promenade, after stopping to take an “arty” photo of the pebbles.
Here I spotted this helpful sign, so at least I would not get lost!
Soon I was passing the huge Butlins Bognor Regis. This was the first mainland holiday camp of Butlins. The trend for holiday camps seems to have been short lived. Many resorts had them at one time, most have since closed or become caravan parks, but this is one of 3 that survives. Though I can’t say I was impressed. The large fence all around it gave the impression of a prison rather than a place for having fun.
I don’t think I’d enjoy being cooped up in there with thousands of others, it seems a bit like the cruise ship experience but without the luxury and without actually going anywhere!
Bognor is a sprawling resort and at the end of the Butlins the coast turned a little to the left giving a view all along the beach through Felpham, Middleton-on-Sea and Elmer, though it has hard to tell where one ends and the next start, since they have merged together.
What was clear though is that I had left the resort behind and what was ahead was largely residential. Thankfully though the promenade continued.
I was amused to come across this notice board for the Bognor Regis Amateur Angling Society, which leads to this rather unfortunate acronym (which is what had attracted me to find out what it was about).
The beach ahead was now much quieter with just a few yachts that looked to be preparing a launch into the calm seas.
Either the sand had built up or the groynes had sunk since they were now easy to just step over again, so I headed back onto the beach for a while, I find it much nicer being next to the waves if possible.
Looking inland I could not help but think how precarious some of these houses looked.
They seemed to be protected by this tatty and patched up wooden retaining wall holding back what must have been (literally) tons of pebbles. The sea clearly came right up to those walls at high tide and if it failed I can’t imagine the houses would last for long. A nice view from them I’m sure but I don’t think I could sleep soundly somewhere like that.
Whilst there was a footpath or promenade most of the way there was a stretch without a path marked on the map so I was glad the tide was out so I could stick to the beach.
I was noticing now that some of the pebbles were made of chalk, presumably washed down from the chalky cliffs of East Sussex, a long way ahead.
I had now reached Elmer and here the wooden groynes abruptly ended, to be replaced by “mountains” of stones placed further out to sea which seems to cause the sand to build up behind them. I am not sure if it works, but it certainly makes for easier walking along the beach!
Soon though the houses had ended inland, though it is now more than 3 miles since the start of the walk, so the houses stretch for a long way.
Soon these stone groynes ended too and inland it was back to open countryside. Not surprisingly this meant the beach was virtually deserted, too. Happily there was a footpath along the back of the beach too though I followed the shingle and sand along the beach much of the way because the footpath turned out to be very pebbly in places too.
The wooden groynes returned for a while, making progress hard but thankfully they ended again and the beach had begun to turn back to sand. It is interesting how beaches can vary between sand and shingle like this when there is no obvious change in geology to cause it that I can see, anyway.
Soon there was a line of firm sand by the shore line and I could follow this through Climping and soon approaching the river Arun at Littlehampton.
I’d been to Littlehampton many times before, when I was growing up we used to come here often as a family as this was the closest sandy beach to home. But that was the beach in the town. I had no idea there was a west beach in Littlehampton or that it was so lovely.
It has since become a favourite place of mine to visit. Not only is it a much nicer beach (in my view) than Littlehampton, the car park that serves it is not very big and fills quickly meaning the beach never feels crowded even in the height of summer, not something that is true of Littlehampton.
Ahead I could see the long wooden “West Pier” that marks the mouth of the River Arun. At least I assume that is it’s purpose or perhaps to help control the flow of the river and reduce erosion. Either way the course of the river was obvious. The tide was coming in rapidly now and I took my shoes off to walk in the edge of the sea on the soft sand. The sea was lovely and warm now it was coming in over sand that had been warmed throughout the day.
It was only as I neared the pier that I started to see people again, because this is near where the car park is. I was surprised by the huge different in water level the other side of this barrier. Looking through it it looked like I was far out at sea but I was in fact standing on sand. I can see how dangerous this could be since the water the other side of the barrier was flowing fast.
So now I needed to head inland to get around the river Arun. The River Arun is lovely, a meandering river that flows through some beautiful scenery, the areas around Arundel and Amberley are some of my favourite places to walk away from the coast, the deep valley surrounding by the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs. It helps too that the river has footpaths along one or other bank virtually the whole of it’s length so you can walk it too.
So now it is time to take a brief diversion inland since the nearest bridge over the river is a footbridge almost a mile inland. I presume, since the road leading to it is called “Ferry Road” that this was once the location of a ferry.
Littlehampton is another large resort and looking through the barrier I could see the lighthouse on the pier at the other side of the river and the towers of the fake castle within the large amusement park (a place my parents always tried to keep me away from!).
Thankfully there is a footpath right up the west side of the river bank. The river turned out to be quite interesting. There was a shingle bank along much of it’s length with boats moored up on wooden jetties for much of it’s length. Some well maintained, some not so.
I often wonder who owns these boats and why they just get left. I suppose it might be harder to trace the owner of a boat then a car, for example.
By now I had reached the bridge (a footbridge and cycle bridge only) over the River Arun. I was also surprised to look inland and see that Littlehampton also seems to have a bit of a working port too. Aggregates had been loaded up onto the other side of the river clearly waiting to be loaded onto (or off) a large barge. There was a gasometer too (you don’t see many of those now).
Crossing the river the contrast was clear to see. On the right boats lined the river whilst on the left it was modern flats built along the river.
Sadly many of the flats had been built right up to the water side so I had to follow the road inland for a while before I could find a path back beside the river which I could follow back to the sea.
I think the changing tide must have contributed to it, but I was surprised to see just how turbulent the water was at the river mouth, it was interesting to watch it swirling all around. I watched as a small boat made it’s way up the harbour, seeming to make light work of the swirling water. I also noticed the sign “speed camera in operation”, it seems you can’t escape them even on the water!
I passed the amusement park not really having the urge to stop as I used to. We always used to park near the roller coaster which I always wanted to have a ride on. I think I did once.
The architecture of Littlehampton could best be described as “mixed”. There were some nice looking terraces mixed in with some horrible 1970s blocks of flats.
Initially I had been following a promenade, but soon a road joined from the left and the promenade was basically the pavement next to the road. It was not so pleasant now but at least there was a large green the other side of the road. This building caught my eye at the end of the green.
I was not sure what it was at the time but it turns out to be Rustington Convalescent home (still serving it’s original purpose) so I had now reached Rustington, though it was hard to work out where Littlehampton had ended. It looked a lovely building. Rustington is apparently the mid-point of the West Sussex coast. I had made quick progress through WestSussex.
After a while since there was no sand on the beach again I headed back down to the beach rather than walk next to the busy road. Inland was now mostly 1960s and 1970s blocks of flats so I didn’t feel like I was missing much not seeing the town!
Seaweed had washed up along quite a lot of the beach here though I’m not sure why.
After a while beach huts lined the back of the beach. It was rather pleasant though they lacked the character I’ve seen in other places being all white.
The beach was now becoming hard to walk on again. It was shingle and seemed to building up as areas at the back had plants beginning to grow on them.
There was however a footpath marked on the map and I soon found that it ran along the middle of this green well kept green with the backs of houses to the left and the sea behind the line of trees. It was an easy walk but that was not exactly much to see!
I was getting tired now though. The advantage of the coast being built up is that this coast is well served by both bus and train links with stations at regular intervals and trains running frequently. However there was a gap of about 2 miles between stations ahead. I decided rather than press on to Goring I would end here and walk inland to Angmering station. This is further than I had realised as the railway line is around a mile inland. Still the station turned out to be easy to spot because like most on this line it had a level crossing over the road next to it. I was also pleased to see it had a station car park which would be useful for my next walk (to reach here all the way by train I would have to travel 20 miles in the wrong direction to Clapham Junction first before joining a train for the coast, so taking the train is much slower than driving).
I had about 15 minutes to wait for a train when I reached the station though to my surprise there weren’t any direct to Bognor Regis, I had to change at Barnham but there was not long to wait for the connection and I was soon back at Bognor.
I enjoyed this walk. The scenery was not spectacular being entirely flat beaches but I had found the coast to be more pleasant than I had expected with quite a lot of stretches of sandy beach with the west beach at Littlehampton being the highlight. The route was easy with footpaths or promenade for almost the whole way. The last couple of miles were quite urban however.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk :
Southern Trains West Coastway line has trains from Angmering to Barnham running twice an hour seven days a week. It takes 10 minutes. From Barnham change for Bognor Regis. Trains on this route run between Bognor Regis and Ford 4 times an hour Monday – Saturday and twice an hour on Sundays, taking 6 minutes. Allow around 25 minutes in total for the journey including the change.
If you prefer to travel by bus (or the trains are on strike) you can use the following bus routes (you need to change in Littlehampton).
Stagecoach route 9 : Littlehampton – Rustington – Angmering – Worthing – Lancing – Shoreham – Holmbush. Hourly Monday – Saturday, no service on Sundays. It takes 25 minutes between Angmering and Littlehampton.