Beautiful Emsworth on the northern edge of Chichester Harbour offers a peaceful base with plenty of boat trips and coastal walks to enjoy. The town began life as a small Saxon village, and sits on the Hampshire and West Sussex border, and has a long history of oyster fishing. Find out more at the Emsworth Museum which also has exhibitions on the author and former resident, PG Wodehouse. Emsworth is famous for its fresh seafood, and there are numerous shops selling locally sourced food and a great range of pubs and cafes often offering views over the harbour.
Chichester Harbour AONB
The Chichester Harbour area incorporates several picturesque Sussex villages around East and West Wittering (surfing and watersports hotspots) as well as pushing into Hampshire at Emsworth and Hayling Island. They all fall within the Chichester Harbour designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The terrain consists of shallow lagoons and sandy flats, perfect for watersports, walking and cycling. Both beginner and experienced sailors will feel at home in the area and a choice of sailing training and courses are available from the many sailing and yacht clubs. Thorney Island, the Island of Thorns, which juts out into Chichester Harbour is today an army base but limited access is available to the public on foot and only on the island’s perimeter footpath. Ancient Thorney Church sits on the edge of the island.
Chichester Harbour is not only popular for sailing and watersports but is internationally important for its wildlife, particularly its migrant bird populations. Autumn is the best time to visit for birdwatching. The part of the harbour around Emsworth and Thorney Island are home to a range of habitats like saltmarsh and reedbeds. These provide feeding and roosting opportunities for ringed plover, grey plover, redshank, black-tailed godwit, dunlin and many more species of birds. Walking west from Emsworth towards Langstone Harbour you’ll see a good variety of the habitats that make Chichester Harbour and the surrounding farmland so important including woodland and freshwater marsh. If you want to find out more about Chichester Harbour, the Chichester Harbour Conservancy organise year round walks and boat trips. These are aimed at all age groups to help people understand why the AONB is so special.
Getting Here/Where to Stay
Emsworth sits close to the A27 and M3 and makes the ideal base from which to explore Chichester Harbour and Hayling Island. A host of attractions and activities in Sussex and Hampshire are within easy reach. Chichester and Roman Fishbourne Palace sit just over the West Sussex border and the spectacular surfing beaches of the Witterings are just a short drive away. Portsmouth Ferry services are also conveniently close. Places to stay include some charming B&B guest houses in the centre offering a warm welcome and clean, comfortable accommodation. You’ll also find some great old inns with rooms and some classic award-winning and Grade Listed hotels in and around Emsworth.