Walk: Chichester Harbour Walk
Distance: Around 14 miles-ish
Accommodation: My mum’s house!
Date: Boxing Day 2009
Walked with: Heather
Pubs: Two in Langstone, lots in Emsworth. The Royal Oak in Langstone http://www.royaloak-havant.co.uk – is a personal favourite though – old fashioned and cosy with a log fire in winter, and great for sitting on the harbour wall and watching the tide come in or out in the summer.
Ok, I’m cheating a bit here because I’m down at my mum’s for the weekend and as she’s refusing to go for a walk with me (boo) I’m going to write about a great circular-ish walk you can do from Havant instead. I did this one last Boxing Day with my friend Heather – t’was a great way to walk off some of the Christmas calories and get ready to eat some more!
This really is a lovely and very easy long walk to do, because it’s flat and has some beautiful and soothing coastal views – like the one in the picture.
Even though I spent the first 18 years of my life living in the borough that calls itself Havant I’d never done this walk before. A crying shame, as it’s got lots to offer. From Langstone Bridge, gateway to classic beach holiday territory, Hayling Island, you walk east along the coast, past the Royal Oak pub and the old mill – one of the most painted scenes in the country apparently (SMMS – so my mum says…). Walk through the graveyard at Warblington and keep going past the mill pond and through the pretty village of Emsworth and the marina before starting the loop around Thorney Island.
Pretty in itself – after all, the OS map tells us that this entire walk is through an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’, one thing that makes this walk different is that you have to log in and out of Thorney Island http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk/walks/walks/walk_a/2043 – with the military, as the Island is an army base. It’s really very odd to come across a serious looking security gate mid-way through your walk! You get access in exchange for giving them your name and contact details. I kind of hope they do some on the spot high level security clearance involving lots of flashing computer schemes, but I suspect they just stick your name down on a piece of paper and cross it out when you buzz to be let out four miles later…
Leaving the island you loop back around at the top, although the great farm shop near the railway station in nearby Southbourne is well worth a detour, and head back into Emsworth before returning to Langstone – this time walking along the coast the whole way rather than going back along the church path. Do check the tides first though – if it’s out when you head off it won’t be when you come back, and I’m recommending a walk here, not a swim!
Of course this walk can be done at any time of the year, but there’s something about it and the colour palate of the area – the grey of the stones, the dark green of the seaweed – that seems to lend itself to the winter. Plus you’d miss out on the dramatically urgent sound of dry docked boats that you get in any Marina when the wind is up – a kind of clamourous clanking of masts that is quite hauntingly beautiful in the depths of a mid-winter day.