Fishbourne Sussex To Prinsted Sussex
A last minute idea for a two day walking trip saw myself & Dave Beech heading back to Fishbourne early on Friday 6th April 18, to walk from Fishbourne to Prinsted. This walk will take in the headlands at Longmore Point, Cobnor Point and Bosham coastal village within the wonderful Chichester Harbour. Having visited this area twice now I could not wait to return. The weather forecast was good and the sun was shining. On arrival it was only a short walk back to where we left off on the last leg. Setting the GPS on my Fenix 5x watch on the west side of the Chichester Channel, we set off into the reed beds at Creek End.
As we walk the roads around old park wood, I spot this fine example of a Sussex barn on Staddle Stones. These stones are mushroom in shape and would prevent rodents entering the barn. They were particularly used for granaries or hay lofts to stop infestations. Today they are highly desirable to collectors, especially the original ones and not cheap.
This street name bears testimony to the Smuggling trade within Chichester Harbour, for many years illegal contraband landed here. It is said that every port or village in West Sussex has some sort of association with the widespread smuggling which went on in the 18th and early 19th centuries in the county.
While many of the Sussex smuggling stories are fanciful, there is a large degree of truth in many of them for the simple reason that smuggling was a huge industry in West Sussex at least up until the 1820’s
While these stories may seem romantic, in truth the smugglers were a mixture of hardened criminals, enterprising businessmen and, mostly, frightened locals who were desperately poor and welcomed the extra few shillings a night’s smuggling could bring their families. Check out the Hawkhurst Gang it makes for very interesting reading.
Sadly this road, known locally as “Millionaires Road or the Expensive Seats”, has another sinister secret regarding the brutal murder of Valerie Graves, which is still unsolved. Let’s do hope they catch her killer.
This is the causeway out to the very popular “Itchy Bosom Ferry”. The ferry runs from Itchenor jetty to Smugglers Lane Hard, Bosham during May to September, linking public footpaths. There has been a ferry on the Smugglers Lane Hard site for 400 years, saving a trip of 13 miles around the harbour. Bosham is not pronounced ‘Bosh-em’ – it’s ‘Bosom’, known locally and immaturely this has been switched to ‘Boozum’. So maybe the owner of the ferry was simply tickled by the idea of having an Itchy Bosomed Ferry. The ferry suits walkers and cyclists alike, especially those venturing over to itchenor to visit the popular Ship Inn for a spot of lunch and a pint.
After passing the Ferry Hard into the Bosham Channel the footpath is actually on the saltings and would not be walkable on the highest “Spring tides”. Although most of the year it would be fine being on the drier part of the saltings.
As we continue around the foreshore we get our first glimpse of Bosham village.
At Bosham a causeway crosses at the end of the creek to the south of Bosham village. Twice a day it is inundated by the sea and pedestrians have to use Shore Road along the eastern end of the creek (although that also floods on high spring tides). Luckily for us we get the chance to use it and it is very popular with the locals and tourists alike. Within Chichester Harbour there are a few causeways linking the peninsulas, most are no longer walkable, but this one is still complete.
We enter the coastal village of Bosham on Shore Road and it’s beautiful in the midday sun. I love its salt washed sea walls, protecting the houses from the seasonal high tides. This little village has a lot of history, far too much to mention here. However the best pieces are that Bosham is mentioned by name on the Bayeux Tapestry, referring to the 1064 meeting of Harold and Edward the Confessor on the way to meet William of Normandy to discuss who would succeed Edward to the throne. Tradition holds that Emperor Vespasian maintained a residence in Bosham, although there is no evidence of this. The best for me is that King Canute (Cnut the Great) commanded the waves to “go back” at Bosham, so as to demonstrate to his overly deferential courtiers the limits of a King’s powers and lastly there is also a legend that around this time Bosham Church was plundered by Danish pirates, who stole the tenor bell. As the pirate ship sailed away, the remaining church bells were rung. The tenor bell miraculously joined in, destroying the ship. The bell is still said to ring beneath the waters whenever the other bells are rung. You have got to love all this from this tiny village which must have played a bigger part in our historical past. Its location then as beautiful as it is today.
Bosham quayside and terrace with its Old Mill which now houses Bosham Sailing Club (BSC) the oldest sailing club in Chichester Harbour founded in 1907. Its clubhouse the Old Mill overlooks the picturesque harbour and is a lovely place to sit for a few moments. I can also recommend the Anchor Bleu Pub where I had a very nice Chicken Madras Pie (proper pie with a base) which was top class.
As previously stated Bosham Church is mentioned on the Bayeux Tapestry, but it is also known as the oldest site of Christianity in Sussex. Christians have worshipped here for well over 1,000 years, pre-Christian settlers also chose this site. Bosham Church itself dates back to Saxon times and the lower stages of the tower and the first third of the chancel have survived from this period.
After walking around Chidham Creek and looking back toward Bosham village on the opposite bank, you can clearly see the remains of another causeway or an attempt to bridge the creek to drain it to use as farmland. Sadly I can not find anything written about it online, however I will investigate this feature further and add it if I find out more.
Past Chidham the coastal path is very good, but a lovely couple who we meet warn us that the area around Cobnor Point can be impassable during high water, however, close to this time already we had no problems. At Cobnor Point the path returns back onto the saltings around the headland into Thorney Channel. I would imagine during spring tides it could be impassable and this is probably why this warning is in place.
At Cobnor Point an attempt to reclaim more land by building a causeway across Thorney Channel during the 1800s failed, but you can still see the remains of the stakes at the southernmost tip of the island.
Now nearing the end of today’s walk at Chidham Point near Prinsted, we spot the romantic mating ritual of two Swans and being the romantic type I managed to capture this image, although it is not the clearest. However I wanted to share the heart shape neck dance they seem to do which makes the Swan such a beautiful bird in every way. Have a look at this video, but turn down the volume because it’s ruined by the commentary. It’s such a privilege to see it. 13.83 miles.