My travel companion Pearl and I were looking forward to spending a few days in West Sussex, and booked a pitch at Stubcroft Farm Campsite, in East Wittering.
Wherever we stay, we prefer to park up ‘Hilary Hymer’ and visit the surrounding area using either public transport or a hire car. We wanted to visit a number of places, which would make using pubic transport almost impossible here, so we opted for hiring a vehicle from Enterprise Car Hire, which offers a free pick-up and return.
The driver was on time to pick us up at the site entrance, to take us to Chichester to collect the car. After that, it was an obvious decision to spend our first day in this lovely cathedral city.
Not that the cathedral was looking particularly photogenic – much of it was covered in white sheeting, because they were replacing the green copper roof with lead. Fortunately, the disruption was not enough to deter the resident peregrines from nesting at the base of the spire again.
A visit to Chichester is rather like coming home for Pearl; she spent most of her formative years living close by and going to a city school, and her parents are buried in the cemetery here.
We met up with an old childhood friend for coffee and lunch, and made a surprise visit to her brother, who works in the city centre, before wandering around the fine historic buildings, indulging in a bit of retail therapy, and putting some flowers on Pearl’s parents’ grave, before returning to the campsite.
During any trip to Chichester, it is well worth spending some time exploring the free-to-enter Novium Museum. Opened in 2012, it is located in Tower Street, close to the cathedral and opposite the library.
This award-winning museum is built over the remains of a Roman bathhouse, with the three floors showing thousands of exhibits telling the fascinating story of Chichester District and its rich heritage. Throughout the year, residents and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of permanent, temporary and travelling exhibitions – and then relax in the café with coffee and cake.
On the way back to the campsite, we stopped off at the popular watersports centre in Dell Quay, trying to imagine this pleasantly quiet backwater in Chichester harbour as it must have been in the 18th century, when it was a very busy port for the coal and grain trades.
The impressive former grain warehouse is now used by Dell Quay Sailing Club, and as a venue for community projects. The Crown & Anchor pub here is ideal for lunch and evening meals.
The next day started rather dull, just the right light to make the most of the wonderful display of bluebells in West Stoke Woods. This woodland is coppiced and carefully managed, ensuring that the bluebells return year after year.
There are numerous public footpaths crossing the area and bridleways for horses; it’s a lovely, peaceful area to visit, with the perfume from the flowers hanging strongly in the air.
Our need for coffee was satisfied by a visit to Design Vintage, at the Kingley Centre in West Stoke, which has a small coffee shop where you can sit inside or outdoors. We enjoyed browsing in the beautiful showroom of fine Scandinavian furniture and homewares.
We had hoped the misty weather would have improved for our next trip, to Arundel with its magnificent castle, which was hosting a tulip festival when we visited, so was rather busy.
Our idea had been to climb one of the castle keeps, to enjoy the views down to this historic town and the countryside along the River Arun – but the weather put paid to that plan.
Instead, we walked along the river towpath and then up the High Street, flanked by historic buildings and the town’s war memorial.
There is a great choice of places to eat here; we stopped for eggs royale at the busy Motte & Bailey Café in the High Street. Later, on the way back, we dropped in at Bracklesham Bay Tea Rooms & Garden, located in a fine 18th-century thatched cottage, to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea.
The next day was sunny, so we headed straight for Bosham, as we knew there would be a high tide, ideal for taking photos across the harbour from this lovely West Sussex village.
We parked the car and headed for the walk around the seawall to get the views we wanted over the harbour. We were restricted in how far we could walk, because the tide was covering the road for quite a distance, as it does twice a day.
We have visited this picturesque village on numerous occasions and are never disappointed with the views, especially when the light is good, as it was during our trip.
Having made the daily coffee stop and sat for a while on the green, watching youngsters on the water learning to sail, it was time for lunch.
Following our meal, we headed for Harting Downs, on the South Downs Way National Trail, hoping to get a view across to the picturesque village of South Harting; but unfortunately, the haze had increased, making the vista indistinct, so not worth photographing. Having made the trip here, we decided to walk part of the National Trail, which extends between Winchester and Eastbourne. This part of the route is a magnificent downland Nature Reserve, one of the many areas managed by the National Trust.
Although the Harting Downs section comprises Harting Down, Round Down and Beacon Hill, time constraints meant that we could only walk the Harting Down stretch, with its open, rolling landscape and extensive views to the north across the beautiful Weald.
Close by are two excellent public houses with links to the South Downs Way, The Royal Oak at Hooksway and The White Horse at Chilgrove.
Heading back to the car, we decided on a short detour to Singleton, a typically fine village in the Lavant Valley, close to Goodwood House and Racecourse and the Weald & Downland Living Museum – both well worth a visit. We returned to Chichester to hand in the car and then to the campsite for our final night.
Despite all that we managed to fit in during our brief stay in West Sussex, we both felt relaxed and refreshed after our trip. This is such a beautiful area, with plenty for all visitors to enjoy – no matter what time of year that you visit.
WAY TO GO
The M3 and M27 are the main motorways heading to Chichester. The A286 runs from Chichester to East Wittering.
WHERE WE STAYED
Stubcroft Farm Campsite
- Stubcroft Farm, Stubcroft Lane, East Wittering, Chichester, PO20 8PJ
- Web www.stubcroft.com
- Open All year
- Charges £26-£40
Very clean, new amenity block, parent-and-child shower room, chemical and grey-waste disposal, wide grass pitches with 16A electric hook-up. There’s no Wi-Fi, but you can hire a barbecue and fire pit.
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We have visited the picturesque village of Bosham on numerous occasions and are never disappointed with the views, especially when the light is good