A countryside and seaside adventure for adults and energetic children with varied things to see and do. – and some reminders about why we need to fight for a coastal path. The walk can be shortened.
Littlehampton Railway Station, Sussex
By train: Littlehampton and Goring are served by trains from Brighton, London, Portsmouth and Southampton.
By bus: Littlehampton and waypoint 2 (Ferring Village) are served by Coastliner bus 700 which runs between Brighton and either Portsmouth or Arundel via most of the coastal settlements in between.
For details see Travel Line South East
Route instructionsYou will see various “private” signs on the walk. However the walk is all on public rights of way or the foreshore. There are no risks. At one point a sign threatens security dogs, but there are none, and have never been.
1). Get off of the train at Goring Station and walk towards the exit by the road. If you have come from the east, cross the footbridge. On the opposite side of the road to the station you will see a footpath sign. Take the footpath, which runs along the north side of the railway.
Excellent views north to the iron age hill forts on Highdown Hill and, further away to the north east, Cisbury Ring.
Continue straight ahead until you reach the next road, by the Henty Arms pub (A). Turn left here and cross the railway.
2). Take the first turning on the right – Onslow Drive (for provisions you can walk on to Ferring Village (B) in a few metres and then return) Walk almost to the end of this road, which finishes at the entrance to a caravan site. Just before the site turn left into Meadow Way and then, almost immediately turn right down a signposted footpath between trees and back gardens.
The trees give way to a field and the path divides. Take the right hand path over a stile. Cross the paddock diagonally, aiming for two further stiles in the next two paddock fences. You arrive at the entrance to Ferring Country Centre (C). Ferring Country Centre is run by a charity to provide work and training for people with learning disabilities. Past the main block you will find a garden centre, small animal zoo and cafe. The centre is open seven days a week from 10 – 4. There are toilets at the centre.
Once you have explored the country centre to your satisfaction return to the entrance. Head south, along the east side of the Ferring Rife. This is a watercourse fed from the South Downs. This part of the Rife is a site of special scientific interest. By the footbridge a board tells you about the local flora and fauna.
3). Come to the footbridge on your right. Cross this, walk about 25 metres ahead and then turn left at a signpost.
An alternative route continues straight ahead here along the side of the Rife, emerging at the car park of an attractive beach cafe. Turn right at the cafe along a path at the top of the beach to join the main walk again.
Continue straight ahead until you come to a track on your right, with a signpost, just by some houses. Turn right here. Follow the track as it turns left and then right to emerge at a lane. Turn left down the lane. You come to the first private estate sign, but there is a right of way sign too, so keep straight ahead. (Note the little war memorial on your left) After some posh houses you come to the sea.
4). The alternative walk rejoins the main route here. You can cut the walk short by turning left and returning using the alternative route and then retracing your steps.
To follow the main route turn right. For the next couple of kilometres you will see various attempts to keep walkers away from the sea. It is clear that if the estates in this area and their residents had their way the rest of us would be barred from these parts. In many other parts of the world we would be. But here, the defence of rights of way has meant that the public can walk along most of the coast. There is also a right to walk along the foreshore, except in a few places where the King sold it off in times past. The Ramblers is working to extend these rights. In 2009 we won the right in principle to a continuous coastal path, but there is still a lot to do.
However, because of efforts to restrict access you will find the beaches here satisfyingly quiet, just the place for a swim or a laze around.
5). You come to a point where the coastal path enters a car park and then disappears. It is possible to continue along the pebbly foreshore, but this can be frustrating. Instead I suggest you pass through the car park and then walk straight ahead, along a road – South Strand.
6). Come to a crossroads. You can turn right here if you want the shops, or left for the Seaview pub, but otherwise continue ahead on Seaview Road. At T junction turn left until you reach the sea again. Turn right and continue for about 1.5 kilometres, 1 mile along a public footpath at the top of the beach. The route is obvious.
7). You now come to a point at which the coastal footpath is blocked by a respite care home. It is simple to walk to the left along the foreshore to get round it, but if you prefer you can walk right and then left, left and left again to get back to the sea. Regain the coastal footpath.
Just before the road you pass a small plaque commemorating two world air speed records achieved off shore here in 1946 and 1953.
A road joins the footpath, which is now tarmac. You come to signs to a park on your right. (D) Mewsbrook Park has a cafe and a boating lake where there may be boats for hire. The park also has one of the stations for the Littlehampton Miniature Railway You may want to do the next part of the walk on the railway in order to get into the spirit of holiday.
Otherwise head along the path by the sea until you come to a point where the miniature railway runs by the other side of the road.
8). I recommend that you cross the road and enter the park to have a look at the other miniature railway station and perhaps have a return ride. There is also a cafe here. Then return back to the coastal path passing first an avant-garde cafe/restaurant and then the longest bench in the world, a structure that is part seat and part art work (E).
10). Come to the end of the sea path at the estuary of the river Arun. Turn right along the riverside promenade. To your right is a fun fair (F) If you remember the fun fair in its earlier years you will find it now sadly diminished. Keep as near to the riverside as you can. This is an attractive part of Littlehampton. Pass the youth hostel and tourist office. The office can tell you about more things to do in Littlehampton. Also pass lifeboat station and Sea LIfe Centre. Turn left on River Road and then right down Terminus Place to reach Littlehampton Railway Station.