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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Walk 91 Littlehampton to Pagham

Walk   91   Littlehampton to Pagham (West Sussex)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 197
Distance: 11 miles or 18 km approx.
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Paths and pavement some beach walking if preferred
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: regular buses from Littlehampton (700) change at Bognor Regis for 60 to Pagham.

Take the walk out of Littlehampton along the west bank of the River Arun then follow the path which runs along the edge of the golf course to Climping Beach and the small settlement of Atherington. From here to Bognor Regis access to some of the beaches is restricted as they are privately owned. If you walk below the high tide mark then (so I have been told) it is OK as this part is not owned by anyone. However, I tend not to do this having been bitten by a dog which was released by its arrogant owner in a similar situation.

Further along is Middleton on Sea. The village grew from a World War 1 sea base to become a holiday destination. Follow the road, promenade or beach along to Felpham with its brightly coloured beach huts and larger wooden structures (presumably used for holiday accommodation). William Blake the artist and poet lived here for three years (1800-1803) and the house is still there.

The walk progresses seamlessly into Bognor Regis, the first noticeable buildings are the tent like structures of the Butlins complex.

In the late 1780s, Richard Hotham, a well known London hat-maker, decided to create a new watering place to rival Bath and Brighton. He wanted to call it Hothamton but he died before this could happen and it retained the name of Bognor (which comes from the Saxon for ‘rocky shore’). Following a visit from King George V the resort gained its royal suffix ‘regis’. On his death bed he is said to have uttered “bugger Bognor” when told by his physician that he would be going back there to convalesce after his illness. Most buildings along the seafront are forgettable. Two exceptions are the impressive Royal Suffolk Hotel and The Royal Hotel.

Bognor pier has had a similar history to many others in the UK. It was built in 1865 and was 1000 feet long. From 1909 it had a large theatre, cinema, restaurant and 12 shops. In 1964/65 the sea end of the structure collapsed in a storm and in 1974 two fires broke out. In 1999 more serious storm damage occurred and the rather short structure is the one that can be seen today.

The walk continues out of Bognor Regis and on to Pagham. To appreciate the views, follow the path and then turn north along the narrow strip of land between the lagoon and Pagham Harbour. Many of the original beach dwellings are bungalows originally constructed from old railway carriages. A friend of mine used to stay in one of the carriages before they were converted when on his family holiday in the fifties/sixties.

The walk finishes at Pagham – mainly bungalow land although it dates back to the 13th century.
Snaps show: the two hotels on Bognor seafront; a view to the beaches near Middleton on Sea; Butlins at Bognor.

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