Living in south-west London with my husband and our gorgeous dachshund Audrey, my day-to-day walks are largely around London parks. Beautiful places with lots to offer, but it is always nice to get out and explore somewhere new. I’ve arranged to meet two of my friends down in Chichester, a day off work and just the three of us…all husbands and dogs are staying at home to hold the fort.
A 1hr and 30 min train journey from Balham and we are in a different world. I’m a heritage consultant and Chichester is heaven for an architecture enthusiast like me. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop! There’s knapped flint, fanlights and adorable window details coated with years of paint everywhere you look. We start with a (thorough!) look around Chichester Cathedral. Wow! It’s amazing – simple as that. From the outside there’s the stunning separate bell tower, some Norman arched windows and doors (quite a rarity that, you know!), amusing gargoyles (both old and new) and a statue of Saint Richard which is just calling out for a selfie or two. Inside is a similar treasure trove with amazing ceilings, Tudor paintings and even the remnants of a Roman mosaic – there’s every realm of history on show here. We round a corner to be confronted with a startling modern art installation, a bit too startling for one of my friends, but I think it’s great. Luckily there’s a leaflet to explain these giant cloaked statues and it’s lovely that modern art gets its place in this ancient building.
With the cathedral thoroughly explored, we head off on a walk. We’re doing 6 miles starting along the converted rail line, the Centurion Way. It’s easy going so nice and sociable – just as well as there’s still plenty of chatting to be done! Soon we’re in the cute little village of East Lavant, it’s like a picture book with the cricket pitch and clear-running stream. The journey back to Chichester takes us through some old lanes, parks and past more interesting mixes of architecture styles.
At the edge of Chichester we stop for a well-earned lunch, a delicious posh sandwich washed down with a bottle of wine – we deserve a treat by now! It’s market day so we indulge with some lovely raw vegan versions of chocolate bars – sheer heaven! Next we hotfoot it down to the canal basin ‘cause we’ve booked ourselves a little trip on a canal boat. Quite an adventure, chugging along at water level. We disembark (yes, we know the lingo!) and head back into the centre of the city. We suddenly begin to notice the amazing range of doorways everywhere you look. So it’s time for a giggle hunting down the cutest, the tallest, the shortest, the oldest, the secret-est! In no time our phones are full to bursting with more amusing selfies alongside the winning doors – great keepsakes and memories of our day.
After all the running around it’s time for some relaxation and we find the perfect place…Bishops Palace Gardens, just behind the cathedral. It’s now rush hour and you’d never know. It’s just so peaceful in this hidden gem with beautiful lawns and flowerbeds. It would make the perfect picnic spot if we weren’t still stuffed after lunch. It’s nearly time for the train home so, to stave off the post-day-out blues, there’s just time for some mint tea in an adorable little tapas bar. The perfect send-off to a perfect day. Honestly, if you are looking for a destination for a girls’ day out with plenty of heritage and giggles, you won’t go far wrong with Chichester.
We’ve teamed up with iFootpath to create a smart walking guide to lead you around the walk. Simply visit the iFootpath website to print the guide, or if you want the smart experience, get the iFootpath app (available for Android or Apple devices). The App gives you the full guide in the palm of your hand and also includes a live map so you can follow your progress along the route as you walk. Say goodbye to wrong turns!