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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Wednesday Walk - Southbourne to Emsworth or Rowlands Castle (via Thorney Island) [First Posting]

Length:  13.7 km/8.5 mi or 21.2 km/13.2 mi
Ascent/Descent:  negligible or 140m
Net Walking Time: ca. 3 hours or 4 ½ hours
Toughness:  1 out of 10 or 3 out of 10
Take the  10.36 Southampton Central & Bognor Regis train from London Victoria (CJ 10.42, EC 10.53), arrives Southbourne 12.12.
Finishing in Emsworth: returns are 3 each per hour to Victoria and Waterloo. Buy an Emsworth return (you have to go back to Victoria, it is £29,60 at full price) or a Havant return (via any permitted route), this covers you for both options, and it is £33,90 at full price.
Finishing in Rowlands Castle: returns are hourly on xx.46. Buy a Havant return (via any permitted route).

This is a coastal walk along a peaceful and remote sea wall around Thorney Island, a peninsular in tidal Chichester Harbour, with an option to visit the sand dunes and beach of Pilsey Island. As this is a very short and flat walk, I am planning an extension to Rowlands Castle along the Sussex Border Path, initially through suburbia then commons and woods (see the route map here for more detail).
The coastal path is part of the Sussex Border Path, and this section of it is maintained by the army - the lower half of Thorney Island is an army base. The coastal path is always open. Access is easy, but strictly regulated, at 2 remote controlled gates with CCTV (one on the east, one on the west of the island). You may have to give your name or show ID on the way in, on the path, or on the way out, on the other side of the island. In practise this isn't a problem.
The 2 highlights of the walk are both excellent picnic spots:
·         the well tended West Thorney church, in a picturesque coastal position
·         Pilsey Island, an RSPB reserve, and despite the name, a peninsular, connected to Thorney Island. It’s at the south east tip of Thorney Island, the mid-point of the walk. Its eastern side is salt marsh which is closed to the public (except for a landing stage for boats). The western side, with public access, has a sandy beach, backed by sand dunes, with a very large expanse of sand at low tide. You can walk out to the southern tip of the island, along the beach, or inland through the sand dunes along a car-wide path that leaves the main Thorney Island coast path.
The walk is mostly open, but along the southern 'coast', there are a couple of short sections when the path is away from the coast, or enclosed by tall vegetation.

Lunch: Picnic or The Traveller's Joy  in Emsworth (a Fuller’s pub near the start, 250m off route on the A 259, food 12.00-15.00).
Tea: A couple of pubs in Emsworth, a couple of pubs and cafes in Rowlands Castle.
For map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.180


Mike said...

This is one of the few bits of South coast which is new to me. The only pub is said to be near the start, though it is in Emsworth not Southbourne. Either way it is very close to the start or finish so I think I’ll opt for a picnic, to be consumed later on. The alternative might be to start an hour earlier and have a late pub lunch at the end. What do others think?

Thomas G said...

The pub comes after 0.7 km of walking (250m off route at point 460m)

Paul A said...

Thinking of doing this walk. Are there any directions? I cannot find any on the walk page.

Andrew said...

A map might help at the start to get to/from the seafront. But once there, just follow the obvious coast path.

David Colver said...

If this new walk is a success, please think of posting it at a weekend.

Thomas G said...

Six walkers off the train, one other had taken the route via Havant and another had driven down from London, so n=8 in unseasonally w=sunny-and-warm weather. Two peeled off to the earliest lunch pub ever, after only 500m, the rest went their ways, some bird-watching (later overtaken by the two lunchers), others racing it. The tide was low and the mudbanks exposed, with birds aplenty. We had the sun and a nice breeze from the front, all was in good order.
Pitsey Island in now off-limits for humans as an RSPB Reserve, but your correspondent wouldn't have had time for that anyway, as he tried to beat darkness on his way to Rowlands Castle.
"Historic" Emsworth looks a very nice place, what with waterways, plenty old houses, six pubs and a decent looking cafe. So, with an earlier start this would make a good lunch stop. And there is another small Local Nature Reserve near the station, which might make a nice addition to this v short walk.
The route to Rowlands starts inauspiciously through a pasture, then along some residential streets, but then comes alive through diverse woods and along farm tracks along more woods, before finishing along The Avenue into Rowlands C. Thanks to a glorious long sunset and then the moon, the headtorch was needed only for the last few minutes through the small wood by Rowlands Castle.

ramblinros said...

Did this walk, with directions SWC180 back in June and enjoyed its remoteness, apart from the main road walk back to Emsworth station - I didn't have the time or directions at that date to go on for Rowlands Castle
I think I should have taken a different route at the end through Emsworth High Street. Bit overgrown after the church with shoulder -high vegetation but guess this depends on the time of year. Very much enjoyed this new-to-me coastal walk and hope it will be posted for others will enjoy it in the year to come