The coastal gem weekender
Explore West Sussex’s coastal gems with some good old-fashioned fun.
West Sussex is famous for its beaches and charming seaside resorts. Whether you want to get out on the water for some exhilarating water sport action or ride Littlehampton’s famous land train along the promenade, there’s something for everyone here.
Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Watersports, beach, seaside charm, nature
Main areas: Ferring, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Pagham Harbour, West Wittering
- Not many people have heard of Ferring, a tiny historic village nestling between Goring-by-Sea and Littlehampton. The village dates back to Saxon times and there’s a Norman church to explore. The buildings of Smuggler’s Cottage, Landalls and Annex in Ferring Street were all once used to hide smuggled goods, which were brought up from the beach in the dead of night! Pop in to the friendly Bluebird Café for a caffeine stop and make sure to head for the beach. It’s wide, wild and usually deserted apart from the odd dog walker or horse rider.
- Just a 10-15 minute drive from Ferring is the National Trust-owned Highdown Gardens, home to a unique collection of plants and trees, and open air theatre performances in the summer months. Once you’ve explored the gardens, head up Highdown Hill for stunning panoramic views of the coast. Allegedly the burial place of a Saxon King, it’s a favourite spot for walking dogs.
- If the weather isn’t on your side, Out of Bounds activity centre is just 10 minutes up the round and is fabulous for children and adults who want to scale the dizzy heights of the clip ‘n’ climb indoor climbing wall, play a spot of Footgolf in the grounds, lazer tag or have a game of ten pin bowling.
- Next up is Littlehampton, which underwent something of a renaissance back in 2005 with the arrival of the architect-designed East Beach Café, which was designed to look like a huge piece of driftwood washed up on the beach. The West Beach Café arrived hot on its heels and both places are worthy of a lunch stop-off. When you’re done, make sure you catch a ride on Littlehampton’s Promenade Train that will whisk you along the seafront.
- 10 minutes away by car is Bognor Regis, a traditional British seaside town that transports you back to a bygone era of old-fashioned pastimes. Catch a movie or live screening of opera at the Picturedrome cinema – these old converted assembly rooms date back to 1886 and are an atmospheric place to catch a flick. Or get the pennies out and try your luck in a classic seafront arcade, followed by a stroll in Hotham Park. This family-friendly park has it all: miniature railway, boating lake, putting green, children’s play area and a café. Butlin’s also has regular events and entertainment and is open to non-residents
- All that sea air will no doubt make you feel very sleepy. Luckily there’s a warm welcome waiting for you at the Crab & Lobster in Pagham Harbour, just along the coast from Bognor. This much-lauded restaurant with rooms prides itself on its food and hospitality so you’re in for a treat.
- Start your day with a leisurely breakfast harbour-side, whilst admiring the stunning views. make sure to explore Pagham Harbour is a local nature reserve managed by the RSPB – visit early in the morning for a chance to catch a glimpse of its elusive residents, including black-tailed godwits, little egrets, pintails and a wealth of other wildlife. There is a great two mile circular walk around the Harbour and Sidlesham Quay which can be taken at a leisurely pace.
- Take a walk along Pagham Beach, keeping an eye out for the quirky homes that have been modelled out of old disused Victorian railway carriages. They are unique to the area and have a certain eerie charm to them.
- Then it’s time to head to West Sussex’s most famous – and beautiful – beach, West Wittering. If you drive up to the car park it hides a stunning vista on the other side, so don’t be put off as you enter. On sunny days the place is absolutely mobbed, so visit off-season to make the most of its charm and ensure you have the place to yourself.
- With the brightly coloured, sun bleached beach huts, vast sand dunes, calm, clear waters and perfectly sandy beach, it’s no wonder that this is a favourite destination for locals and day trippers alike. Bring a picnic and take in the natural beauty of this coastal gem.
- If you’re feeling active, 2XS is a watersports academy located right on the beach that hires out kayaks, SUP, kite surfing and surfing equipment. You can book in for lessons for a host of watersports – it’s definitely worth booking in advance if you’re visiting at peak times. Spend a day at West Wittering and you’ll leave wondering why you’ve never visited before.