We spent quite a bit of time in the United Kingdom a few years ago, but didn’t get to the south coast. For this trip, we needed a week out of the Schengen visa region and were lucky enough to book a house sit in Chichester in the county of West Sussex with just one kitty to care for and a car at our disposal.
We wandered through the town of Chichester for a few hours, using Adventure Labs to pull us into both popular and out-of-the-way places.
Chichester is surrounded by 1,800-year-old walls, approximately 80 percent of which remain. The City Walls Walk is a 2.5km pathway around the city that is dotted with interpretive signs.
Chichester Cross was built as a covered marketplace in 1501 and sits at the intersection of the four main roads in the center of the city. When we visited, it worked very well for many strollers who took cover inside the structure as we were doused with a short downpour. I’m sure the covered structure was just as appreciated 500 years ago.
Chichester Cathedral, built in the 11th century, has a separate bell tower built a few metres away. A docent told us that the cathedral didn’t have foundations that were strong enough to support the tower on top of the building. The spire, which was built of weak local stone, collapsed in the 19th century and was rebuilt. There is a small glass panel in the floor that provides a view to Roman mosaics found beneath the church.
Portsmouth isn’t actually in West Sussex–it’s in Hampshire–but we visited it while we were staying in West Sussex, so we’re counting it. The Portsmouth we saw was all about the harbour and the restored ships at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Gunwharf Quays is a shopping, restaurant, and entertainment area a short walk along the seafront from the dockyard. You can’t miss the Spinnaker Tower out in front. As well as offering views and refreshments, you can choose to abseil down the tower, which some more adventurous (and less budget-conscious) folks were doing while we sat and people watched.
We parked at the train station parking lot, which was perfect for wandering through the streets and alleyways on our way to the iconic Brighton Palace Pier. The Lanes area was particularly fun–we almost felt like we were walking through a maze of twisty corridors lined with restaurants, vibrant patios, and quaint shops.
The pier activity was relatively light when we visited (thankfully since it is crowded with buildings and midway rides). As we imagined it fully wound up with all the rides squealing and the food kiosks doing a roaring business, we were glad that we had visited on a mid-week day in May and not in the middle of the summer holidays.
Hilly Arundel is visually dominated by the medieval Arundel Castle from every angle, including from the highway since it sits up on a hill. If we had more time, we might have gone back to explore the wetlands and walk some of the pathways around the castle.
One of England’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Chichester Harbour is not just one place. There are islands and inlets, fishing villages and marinas, beaches and nature trails. We strolled around Bosham, a quaint little village with the oddity of the seaside Shore Road that may or may not be there, depending on the tide. Since we were there at high tide, we used other roads and pathways to get around (Google Maps Street View gave us a chance to see it at low tide). We then drove out and around the harbour and down the to the beach at the bottom of Hayling Island.
Getting there: We were in Gent before we headed to Chichester, so we took a 30-minute train from Gent to Brussels (9.30€ for two of us with the current Duo promotion) and then a two-hour Eurorail train from Brussels to London (£150, $250CAD). We then trained from London St. Pancras to Chichester (£45 for two wth Railcard, $75CAD). At the time we booked, discount flights weren’t available, but we would definitely consider flying as an alternative.