Newest section of the King Charles III England Coast Path in West Sussex takes another step forward

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Marvel at the RSPB nature reserve at Medmerry. Source: Natural England

The newest section of the King Charles III England Coast Path will help connect people with nature and provide a wealth of health and wellbeing opportunities.

This autumn sees another new easy-to-follow, continuous walking trail for West Sussex residents and visitors to enjoy.

The route in King Charles III’s name has now opened between East Head to Shoreham-by-Sea.

The stretch, mainly open coastal plain with long beaches, seaside resorts and nature reserves teeming with birds, has been opened by Natural England this week.

This route will eventually help connect the country’s entire coastline into one long National Trail. The walk will take people through some of the finest landscapes in England, as well as the many coastal towns, cities and ports which have shaped this island nation.

Excitingly for the first time in the history of public access, legal rights of public access will be secured to typical coastal land including beaches, dune and cliffs, allowing walkers to access some places they’ve never been before.

Jim Seymour, Natural England area manager for Kent and Sussex said:

“This new trail has spectacular sweeping coastal views, beautiful spots like Pagham harbour, and abundant wildlife at Medmerry while providing sustainable sea defences.

“At a time when the benefits of connecting with nature are clearer than ever, it’s fabulous that we are opening up this 44-mile walking route on the West Sussex coast for people to enjoy.”

This new stretch starts by the sand dunes at West Wittering, near the mouth of Chichester Harbour, a popular spot with a long sandy beach.

The path then follows the open coast eastwards and inland beside the raised seawall bank around Medmerry. This had a recent managed realignment of the coast by the Environment Agency and is now a new RSPB nature reserve. Birds including various wildfowl and birds of prey including peregrines and merlins can be seen here. Geese and waders start to arrive in large numbers, while members of the swallow family gather preparing for their journeys south.

Returning to the open coast, the trail goes around Selsey Bill and from one sweeping bay to another as you walk towards Pagham Harbour. The trail mostly follows the sea wall around the estuary, here you may see little terns, blacktailed godwits and the beautiful common blue butterfly.

Next you will reach Bognor Regis seafront promenade, another popular seaside resort. Along this section, on shingle beaches in places, you pass through Felpham and Middleton-on-Sea.

Between Elmer and Littlehampton Harbour, the trail follows an interesting section of natural coastline including the sand dunes and shingle beach at Climping. You pass the 19th century fort at the mouth of the River Arun as you reach Littlehampton Harbour. You follow the trail beside the river, over the footbridge and along the other side, where you’ll see an array of boats. You carry on past a theme park near the mouth of the River Arun at Littlehampton.

The trail then uses public footpaths across grassland and along promenades adjacent to the open coast. Taking you through the seaside villages of Rustington, East Preston, Ferring and Goring by Sea, then on to the seaside resort of Worthing, and past the beach huts in Lancing.

Continuing on you follow the board walk on Shoreham Beach, with its interesting, vegetated shingle with plants such as sea kale poking through. You pass another 19th century fort as you reach the River Adur, follow the river, then cross the swing bridge to arrive at Shoreham-by-Sea, a seaside town bordered by the South Downs.

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for environment and climate change, said:

“We’re delighted to see this stretch of the King Charles III England Coast Path open, giving residents and visitors alike new opportunities to explore our beautiful coastline.

“The works have provided new boardwalks, improvements to path surfaces, and better signage, providing a much-needed boost for local businesses and making it easier than ever to visit our varied landscapes.

“The new trail will not only be beneficial to the health and well-being of all who use it but will also protect our coastal paths for future generations to enjoy.

“From seaside promenade, sweeping beaches, historic towns, and internationally important nature reserves, there really is plenty for everyone to enjoy.”

The 44-mile (71 KM) route will become part of the King Charles III England Coast Path – the 2,700 mile long distance walking route and England’s newest National Trail currently being developed around the entire English coast by Natural England.

Stretch openings in Kent and Cumbria in the coming weeks, will see the significant milestone of 1,000 miles of the King Charles III England Coast Path open.

The government announced in January 2023 that the King Charles III England Coast Path will be fully walkable by the end of 2024 – connecting communities from Northumberland to Cornwall.

Natural England worked on the stretch with a number of partners including West Sussex County Council, RSPB, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Ramblers and Chichester, Arun and Adur District Councils.

The route is easily accessed via public transport and there are plenty of locations along the trail for refreshments and with accommodation. See the National Trails website map to find out more: www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/england-coast-path-south-east/trail-information/

Walkers can access maps of the route and any local diversions at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/.

And check for any restrictions to access at Natural England – Open Access maps

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 places a duty on the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs and Natural England to secure a long-distance walking trail around the open coast of England, together with public access rights to a wider area of land along the way for people to enjoy. Natural England is working on the entire coastal route. A map showing a timetable for the work is here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/england-coast-path-overview-of-progress

As well as new sections of the trail, there are improvements to existing access along the coastline which:

  • identify a clear and continuous way-marked walking route along this part of the coast, bringing some sections of the existing coastal footpath closer to the sea and linking some places together for the first time.
  • allow the route to ‘roll back’ if the coastline erodes, shifts or slips, solving the long-standing difficulties of maintaining a continuous route along the coast.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/england-coast-path-improving-public-access-to-the-coast and www.nationaltrail.co.uk/

The Countryside Code is the official guide on how to enjoy nature and treat both it, and the people who live and work there, with respect. 

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