A Circuit from Atherington to Flansham

When this blog was first conceived I needed to give it a name.  For a number of days various options were considered and discarded.  At the time we were sorting out the letting of our house in preparation for our travels and I was contacting CL owners to book our stays.  As part of these conversations I described our requirement as “Two adults, a caravan with two dogs and an awning”.  The name for the blog suddenly became obvious.

I am away for a week staying at the Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Littlehampton.  It is ideally situated for walking on the South Downs.  Crosby is now eleven and whilst still very active he is not up to consecutive days of long walks so he is staying at home with Lynnie.  I was unable to get a pitch with space for an awning.  So for the first time I am one adult, no dogs, no awning!

In plotting my walks for the week I have identified a few ordnance survey trig pillars that I haven’t bagged in this part of West Sussex.  Some of these trigs are on the downs and others like the ones I am aiming for today are nearer the coast.  My starting point is a parking area near the sea at Atherington.  There is restricted parking here during the summer, but during winter months these do not apply.  

There is usually more parking here, but a lot of work has been done to create a shingle bank as a sea defence, I am unclear if the reduction in parking is a temporary measure or permanent.  News reports suggest the car park and cafe might be moved further inland.

As I lace up my boots the spray from waves is crashing over the shingle bank and a local dog walker returning to his car comments on how wild the weather is and unnecessarily warns me to keep away from the waves.  I intend to head west along the coastal path towards Bognor Regis and start by walking up on to the shingle bank that protects the parking and picnic area and local housing.  

The footpath leaves the far end of the car park along the sea defences, but a combination of erosion and the high tide make this route too dangerous.  A local tells me to take a footpath behind the cafe building that goes through a section of woodland before returning me to the coast path.

Emerging onto farm land I follow the path with the waves crashing away to my left.

I last walked along this stretch of coastline in 2017 and the extent of erosion is striking.  Apparently nine acres of farm land have been lost to the sea over the last year and I later see some amazing footage of the changes to the landscape.

As I near housing at Elmer the sea defences become far more substantial and for the first time I am able to walk on the path I followed six years ago.

It is a cracking day but I am walking into a strong headwind which makes it challenging to build up any pace.

The path briefly leaves the sea front and joins a road and then I take the second footpath on the left back to the seafront.

It is not too long before the path heads inland again because the high tide makes it impossible to stay beside the sea.  I walk through a residential area and then turn left along Elmer Road and soon join the B2132 which goes through Middleton-on-Sea.  After passing shops on the opposite side of the road I turn left into Sea Lane.  On my right is Middleton-on-Sea village pond.

I continue along Sea Lane, ignoring all roads to left and right, this eventually brings me to the shingle beach where I turn right and I’m soon on a wide grassy area with numerous benches.  To the right I pass a collection of well-maintained wooden beach huts.

This spot is relatively sheltered from the wind so I decide to avail myself  of one of the benches and stop for elevenses.

Around the corner I continue along a path and it is not too long before this becomes a tarmac promenade with Bognor Regis in the distance.

The last time I walked along this seafront was with Lynnie and we went all the way into Bognor Regis and then turned around and retraced our steps back to the car.  Today I am going to do a loop inland so with a view of Butlins in front of me I turn right to leave the promenade and join First Avenue.

At a junction with Limmer Road I turn left and then very quickly turn right into Summerley Lane.  After passing a Post Office I follow the path into a waterlogged playing field and follow the path around the edge to reach the B2132.

I cross the B2132 and turn to the right and then immediately at a junction go left into Flansham Lane and follow this to the A259 which I cross and then join Hoe Lane and walk into Flansham.

In the village at a fork in the road I go to the left and continue along the road which soon becomes a track.  

The track passes Hoe Farm then the footpath goes beside a gate and continues along to reach a junction of three tracks.  Directly in front of me is Westfield Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar.  This is the 413th trig I have bagged.

I now turn to the right to follow the track to a junction of tracks, here I go right again.  This path along the field edge is very soggy and flooded in places but fortunately I manage to get through without getting wet feet.  I cross a footbridge into another waterlogged field.

I dare to hope that I have passed the worst of the flooding and then reach a junction of tracks.  Here it was my intention to turn left and follow paths to Bilsham and on to bag another trig, however, there is no way I can get through this flood without getting wet feet.  There is not much that deters me from bagging a trig, but there is no joy in walking with soaking wet feet.  So I check the map and decide to re-route and turn right to walk back into Flansham.

Back in the village I retrace my steps along Hoe Lane to the A259.  I cross and take a path that heads east towards Worms Wood.

I follow the track until it almost reaches the A259 and then go through a gate into Worms Wood.  This is an open access area leased from the local council by the Woodland Trust around 2000 and they have created some cracking woodland.

I head through the trees with soggy ground beneath my feet.  At the edge of the woodland I go through a gate and after crossing a ditch turn left along the north edge of a recreation area.

The footpath leaves the recreation area through a kissing gate and then follows a path to reach the B2132.  After crossing the road I follow Ancton Lane to reach Ancton and then continue through a residential area to Elmer where I rejoin the coast path and turn left.  The tide has now gone out and there is a different perspective to the coastline.

When we walked this bit of coastline six years ago the groynes came all the way up to the shingle bank.  The erosion means they are now separated and presumably no longer serve as a useful defence.  

With the tide out I am able to walk on the coast path and do not need to go through the woodland to reach the newly created shingle bank and my car.

You can view this 10.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here

To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey OS Explorer 121 – Arundel & Pulborough

13th November 2023

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2023)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.

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