Bosham to Chichester | Travel Blog
Published: August 13th 2020
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Greetings from London! Since I wrote my last entry on my explorations of the Peak District whilst spending the first two weeks of my holidays in Sheffield, I have returned to London and have enjoyed the subsequent three weeks of my holidays here, hosting my wonderful family for visits. This has been a wonderful time, and having been able to spend time with them has certainly been one of the positives that has come out of this tricky situation. I also managed to fit in a day trip myself from London to a nearby point of interest, which I enjoyed very much, and which I will write about here. But first, just a bit of background on where some of my summer travel planning this year began.
When we first went into lockdown back in March, one of my first thoughts was what I should do with my Easter holidays at the time. I had initially planned a ten-day trip to California, but this was pretty quickly dashed as all hopes of international travel at that time quickly dematerialised. My subsequent thoughts were either to spend ten days travelling around England, or do a number of day
trips from East Croydon station, which has amazing direct connections to everywhere south of London from Southampton in the west to Hastings in the east. Subsequently though, with the lockdown details, came the instruction not to stay overnight anywhere except in your own house, and not to travel for anything other than key worker work purposes. This blew any chances of going anywhere at all for the Easter holidays for me, but it did sow some ideas for my summer travels: a ten-day trip around England, and day trips from East Croydon.
And thus this summer, in addition to my two weeks in Sheffield, I’m planning a two-week trip around north-east England at the end of August, and one of my day trip ideas from East Croydon station also came into fruition: on Thursday 30th July to be precise.
Thus, on this warm Thursday morning, I boarded a Southern train southwards from East Croydon station towards the wonderful city of and surrounding area around Chichester, capital and only city of the English county of West Sussex. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I enjoyed every moment of my visit there.
I had first planned to visit
the small village of Bosham (pronounced Bozzum), located in the spectacularly beautiful Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and head eastwards along country paths through the AONB, to the city of Chichester, whence I would return to East Croydon. Changing trains briefly at Chichester first, I boarded a very local, clappety south coast train to take me the final two stops to Bosham, a tiny station a mile north of the small village of the same name. My walk thus first took me southwards into the Chichester Harbour AONB, with latte in hand bought from the local Co-Op next to the station, and into this delightful, quaint, and really rather popular harbourside village.
Bosham was lovely – a quintessential English village, with picture-postcard thatched cottages and country gardens, many of which I believe I must have seen somewhere on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle at some time. It sits quietly on the shores of the Bosham Channel, which along with the Emsworth, Thorney and Chichester Channels, makes up the watery coastline of this lovely wetland area. Upon arrival, the tide was clearly out, and the whole of Bosham Harbour was exposed to the sun, glistening a beautiful emerald
colour due to the abundance of seaweed, and interspersed by lovely little fishing boats temporarily marooned by the receded tide. Along with Bosham, with the notable spire of its Holy Trinity Church jutting out above the thatched rooves and harbourside cottages, the sweeping vista across and around the bay made for some wonderful photos. Although it was a Thursday midweek, the place was bustling with tourists and families, many of them having picnics on the village green overlooking the harbour, while their children went paddling in the shallow waters. I imagine it isn’t usually busy at this time, but with the number of people in England currently “staycationing” in the country over the summer, perhaps tourist numbers had increased at this time. After a lovely walk around the town and harbour edge, to also take in a quick deco in the village’s quite popular “Bosham Walk Art and Craft Centre”, it was time to bid farewell to this quaint little village and head eastwards, away from the hustle and bustle of the place, and along some deliciously quiet country lanes which were to take me onwards and towards Chichester, around five miles away.
Chichester is an ancient city dating
Viewed from the East Croydon to Chichester train
from Roman times, and particularly famous for its 12th century cathedral (more on this below). Pretty much as soon as I began my walk, I spied the cathedral’s spectacular 84-metre high spire across the plains in the distance, marking the end-destination of my little country walk. It was quite easy to imagine what it would have been like centuries ago, perhaps during market day, walking these very paths and lanes, navigating oneself by the view of the spire in the distance. Indeed, Chichester’s is the only English cathedral visible from the sea, and its spire was also historically an important landmark for sailors. The walk felt timeless. And best of all, there were no fields of sheep, or even cows, to traverse. Whilst I love countryside walking, I’m not a big fan of sharing my walks with large animals, particularly cows – I find their stopping eating and staring at me to be most unnerving, particularly if they all do it at the same time, and even more so if they start walking towards me. I continue to remember the fact that more people are killed in the UK by cows every year than by any other animal, apparently nearly
Train carriage to myself 🙂
three people annually (!). So yay, this walk was blissfully farmyard-animal-free!
At intermittent points along my walk, there were small daredevil aeroplanes in the large expanse of sky above me doing loop-the-loops, steep dives and whatnot, and I imagined there must either be a flying school or company taking tourists up nearby. The walk was completely flat, and headed through the heartland of the AONB. After three miles or so, and a picnic lunch in a shaded spot on the side of a road, the path skirted around the western shore of Chichester Harbour itself, heading northwards, through a whimsical area of tall, grass rushes which reached over head-height, and on to the small village of Fishbourne, just outside Chichester itself.
Fishbourne is famous for being the location of Fishbourne Roman Palace, the largest residential Roman building discovered in Britain, dating from 75 AD. I would have loved to have stopped by for a visit, particularly as I have just started reading a book called “A Traveller’s History of England” to accompany my English travels this summer, and having gained a real interest in the Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking history of my country. Sadly though, as the
website states, due to COVID-19, “Fishbourne Roman Palace is currently closed until further notice”. This was sad, but may indeed be another potential destination for a further day trip I may plan from East Croydon. It also gave me more time to explore Chichester.
So having not been able to visit the Roman Palace, my walk through Fishbourne did take me past another delightful thatched cottage, just on the northern banks of the Chichester Channel, which was a sheer beauty to behold. From here, my walk took me on to the outer suburbs of Chichester.
By the time I reached Chichester’s outer ring road, I was rather tired, yet the sun continued to beat down, reflecting off the concrete. This leg of my walk, from the outskirts of Chichester to the centre of town, felt the longest, and seemed to continue on for quite a while, despite it being only the last mile out of five in total. When I reached the centre of town, I was most happy, and sat down in its exact centre, on a shaded concrete seat within one of Chichester’s two most famous structures, the Chichester Cross. Just outside the Cross to the
west was the other of Chichester’s most famous attractions, the Chichester Cathedral. For now though, I was happy just to rest and take in the goings on around me.
Chichester is one of England’s oldest cities, and you can tell by its suffix of “-chester”, that it was founded by the Romans. Indeed, the city, originally named “Noviomagus Reginorum”, dates back to the Roman invasion of 43 AD, and was built with defence in mind. To protect the town against coastal raiders, the original Roman urban area was surrounded by a two-metre thick and seven-metre high city wall, much of which is still in existence today, making it the most intact Roman wall in southern England. The city was also connected to nearby Londinium, or London, by the very straight Roman road of Stane Street, 56 miles away to the north-east.
At the city’s heart stands the afore-mentioned Chichester Cross, a Grade I listed building built at the end of the 15th century by the then-Bishop of Chichester, Edward Story, as a market building, and thus otherwise also known as Market Cross. It marks the meeting point of four compass-point roads, aptly named North Street, East Street, South
Street and West Street (!) After re-composing myself within its shelter after the long, hot final leg of my walk to Chichester, I headed south along South Street, fuelled up with a pint of ice-cold milk bought from a local Tesco Metro, and entered the grounds of the city’s other famous attraction, and really quite a stunner, the Chichester Cathedral.
Wow! What an absolutely magnificent building, along with its lovely surrounding grounds, and there was hardly another tourist in sight. I sat in the cathedral’s cloisters to start with, and for quite a while I was the only person there. Upon entering the cathedral, there must have been only five or so other tourists in there at the same time. This is a structure completely on a par to my mind with the likes of York Minster, Salisbury Cathedral, and perhaps even Westminster Abbey (at a push…), yet despite its majesty I felt I had the whole place to myself. Either this really is an undiscovered beauty of a cathedral and a town, or the current c-virus travel restrictions are keeping travellers away from places like this. If the latter is the case, then perhaps it isn’t all-so-bad this
current situation, if one gets to enjoy popular tourist attractions all to oneself.
Anyway, the cathedral building dates back to the late 11th century, and was built by the Normans upon the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon cathedral founded in 681 AD. The building boasts a fine spire, of 84 metres, just one metre taller than Lincoln Cathedral’s towers, yet still quite a bit shorter than England’s tallest cathedral spire in Salisbury, at 123 metres. Nevertheless, the size of the building is impressive, and I thoroughly enjoyed my peaceful walk around its gardens, cloisters, and inside the structure itself. Just north of the main building lies the medieval 15th century Bell Tower, the only freestanding, separate bell tower belonging to a church building still standing in the country. Unfortunately the tower wasn’t open during my visit, but it was still impressive to behold.
After visiting the cathedral, I briefly explored the adjacent Bishop’s Palace Gardens, mainly its cute little herb garden and adjacent Roman walls, thoroughly impressed at the latter’s age. They appeared to remain as strong and as intact as when they were first built 1800 years ago. After this, I exited the cathedral grounds and headed
southwards towards the train station, as my time in Chichester was coming to an end, and it was approaching the time for me to take my train home again.
The journey back to East Croydon was enjoyable, and I noted a couple of interesting places going through England’s South Downs National Park area, for a potential future day trip: Arundel, with its spectacular royal castle, and nearby Amberley, also with an interesting-looking castle. The return, as well as the outbound, train journey took me past a very forlorn-looking Gatwick Airport Long-Stay Car Park, practically empty at this time. My thoughts turned to potential future travel plans abroad, in far-flung and exotic destinations again, using Gatwick as I had often done before, as my connection to the world out there.
Well, until that time comes, when I can continue to explore more of this amazing world around me, I shall continue to content myself with further explorations of my native country, this beautiful land called England. In fact, tomorrow I begin a two-week journey around the north-east of England, from Newcastle to Hull, with plans to take in various sights including Holy Island, Hadrian’s Wall, the Angel of the
North, Durham, the North York Moors National Park, Whitby, the Humber Bridge and Spurn Point. This is an underexplored corner of the country for me, and I am looking forward very much to being on the road again. I look forward to learning more about this country around me, its geography and history, as well as continuing to look at it through a traveller’s lens.
I plan to write up about this trip after my return to London at the end of August, and thus should be publishing blog entries on this towards the end of this month and into September.
So, until the next time, thank you very much for reading, take care, and all the best 😊
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