Chichester Harbour lies to the west of Chichester, with an entrance from the English Channel between West Wittering and Hayling Island, it comprises an area of some twenty-seven square miles of navigable water and provides some of the most rewarding scenery in the South of England. The vast natural harbour is a popular yachting destination and offers the ideal recreational area for sailors of all abilities. Chichester Marina is the second largest marina in England and provides the perfect place to moor up for the night with an on-site restaurant and easy access to Chichester City centre there's a real buzz of atmosphere all year round.
The harbour is home to plentiful and varied wildlife. Truly an ornithologist's delight, you'll be able to spot one of the many species of birds which choose to spend all or part of their year in the harbour waters. The RSPB Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve is the ideal place for a spot of twitching where you can expect to see waders such as Curlews, Whimbrels and Oystercatchers, plus swans, geese, ducks, herons, gulls and many, many more.
Feathered friends are not the only things you'll spot out in the harbour waters. Common Seals spend much of their time gliding through the tidal flows, and Atlantic Grey Seals have also been spotted. Closer to the water's edge, water voles make use of the coastal banks, and at nighttime, you can expect to see Pipistrelle bats ducking and diving through dusky skies.
With a backdrop of the South Downs and breathtaking coastal scenery, it's hardly surprising that Chichester Harbour is popular with walkers and cyclists. With many coastal paths and routes to follow there's plenty to explore and discover in the harbours tidal creeks. Approached by small boat, on foot or by car the each of the harbour villages within the offers something unique and different to see and do.
In Roman times Dell Quay navigable all the way to Fishbourne, and Roman galleys may have sailed right up to the nearby Fishbourne Palace with goods. Later it became an important Medieval port for Chichester and was a hive of busy trading activity. Today, you can reach Dell Quay by foot, cycle or car and is only navigable by dinghies and small cabin cruisers a few hours either side of high tide.
The beautiful waterside village of Bosham provides picture postcard views and is a magnet for artists and photographers. The village is steeped in history and is most famously known as the place from which King Harold II set out on his ill-fated expedition to Normandy. The scene of which can be seen woven into the Bayeaux Tapestry. Legend has it that it was here that King Canute also attempted to stop the tide approaching.
The pretty village of West Itchenor overlooks the Chichester Channel and offers views across the harbour to Chidham, Bosham and Chichester. A seasonal ferry operates between the jetty at Itchenor and the hard at Smugglers Lane, Bosham linking coastal footpaths and the two villages.
To the South East lies the villages of Bracklesham Bay, East Wittering and West Wittering which are popular with residents and visitors alike. The Blue-Flag sandy beach of West Wittering offers plenty for the bucket and spade enthusiast, and at low tide, you'll find warm shallow lagoons, perfect for bathing and splashing about.