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Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight

West Sussex has 50 miles of stunning coastline, interspersed with sand dunes, mudflats, marshlands and long sandy beaches that are the perfect place to drink in the magnificent natural beauty of the English seaside.

Return to nature with the best things to do around Chichester Harbour

You could begin with an exploration of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, a sheltered inlet where incredible sunsets fill the bay. The wildlife is special too: this is where some of the UK’s first cuckoos are heard in spring.

This sheltered inlet is an internationally important wetland site for wildlife, while the shoreline is often dotted with little terns returning from foraging, their beaks filled with sand eels.

Not far away, Lancing Beach is popular with kite surfers or, if you are more cautious about the open sea, you could try a spot of kayaking in the sheltered waters of Chichester Harbour, which is linked to the sea by a gently flowing canal. Alternatively, put your feet up on the Solar Heritage, a solar-powered catamaran that trundles around Chichester Harbour where you will discover that mud can truly be magnificent, with the marshy coastal edges stretching away to the horizon and shimmering in the sunshine. The vessel quietly glides across the water, so the birdlife stays put, allowing you to get up close to the thousands of waders and waterfowl or 40 harbour seals that visit the harbour.

Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight
Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight

Foraging on the Isle of Wight, a wild food adventure

Away to the southwest and across the Solent, you’ll find the Isle of Wight, where the beaches, coastal marshes and woodlands are ideal for foraging.

‘The Isle of Wight just feels so accessible, you can go somewhere and be by yourself and there is park, coast and woods all close to each other,’ says Alex Richards of Island Wild Food, who leads foraging trips around the island coast. ‘Foraging is not just about what you find, it’s about the nature, the views and where you explore.’

Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight
Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight Plan a peaceful eco staycation in West Sussex and the Isle of Wight
 

The island’s natural larder is abundant and the seasons and locations dictate what Alex comes across. 

Spring brings nettles, wild garlic and elderflowers to the coastal fringe while autumnal offerings range from cobnuts (hazelnuts), which are great when grated into butter, to rosehips (for tea) and Alexander seeds (similar to black pepper in taste). The flavours can be surprisingly intense and bring a whiff of the Far East to this southerly English island. Alex may set you to work to gather herbs and flavours to prepare during the excursion – you may end up with sorrel to sprinkle into humous or dulce seaweed to fry (they taste like healthy crisps).

Blog by Mark Rowe


Explore more of the South East Coast here