Tuesday 9 August 2016
Hayling Island to East Wittering
Stubcroft Farm Campsite
Where should I start on the state of the B&B facilities? I was so angry that I felt I had been ripped off, and so disappointed that I didn’t get the little bit of comfort that I wanted after such a hard day yesterday. The manager wasn’t there and I left without breakfast (that’s how bad it was). I revisited tescos to make myself a baguette instead. I was fuming for a couple of hours.
I followed the Hayling Billy Line (a WW2 train track turned into a cycle path) straight up the West side of the island. It was shaping up to be another hot and sunny day.
The tide was out and wherever I looked there were mud flats, channels and lots of shoreline. Chichester Harbour is huge and has 2 ‘fingers’ of land poking into it (Hayling Island and Thorney Island), as well as lots of other tiny islands.
I crossed Langstone Bridge, leaving Hayling Island and following the Wayfarer’s Walk along the shoreline from Havant to Emsworth.
The small town of Emsworth used to have a big oyster trade, selling 100,000 a week to London. The harbour would have been full of Oyster Smacks, the biggest being the 110 ft long Echo. This Emsworth boat was said to be the largest sailing fishing vessel ever built in England.
In Emsworth I had a quick cafe stop to get the coffee that I had missed by not having breakfast. I was still angry, and tired, and rehearsing how I was going to get my money back.
More footpath confusion as I tried to find my way around Emsworth Marina, crossing the River Ems and into West Sussex. It did little to improve my mood! Perhaps a nice walk around Thorney Island would help.
Although now connected to the mainland thanks to seawalls, the Great Deep channel did once cut the Thorney Island off. It is now cut off by big, locked gates as it is MOD land (it used to be an RAF station until 1976). The Sussex Border Path tracks around the edge of Thorney Island for 6 miles and access is granted by buzzing the Guard Room, and the guards remotely unlock the gate. No problem.
It was a nice walk and there were a few oystercatchers and boats for me to look at across the harbour. It took me 2 hours to get around to the east access gate, complete with handwritten sign indicating the gate was broken. That couldn’t be right. I pressed the buzzer and was told the gate was broken, as per the sign, and I would have to go back the way I had come. This was red rag to a bull. The steam coming out of my ears was probably visible for miles as I blew my stack. Why wasn’t there a sign on the other gate? Why hadn’t they told me this gate was broken when they let me through the other gate? What was wrong with the gate? Were they really telling me I had another 6 mile, 2 hour walk back around Thorney Island to get back to where I started? Who was their commanding Officer? I wanted him to come and explain this to me ASAP and I wanted a car to drive me back around (not possible I know). I had almost reached the point of resuming my military rank and they had put me on hold while they fetched someone of superior rank who would come and see me. Suddenly I heard a buzzer sound and so pushed the gate. It opened. Not so broken after all! Had I not been so stressed and so tired with so far still to go I would have taken them to task on this as it was shocking behaviour.
I carried on skirting around Chichester Harbour. I decided not to bother walking around the next ‘finger’ of land at Chidham and just followed the A259 straight along to the final ‘finger’ at Bosham. This one had a ferry across the Chichester Channel to West Itchenor so I avoided having to walk back inland to Chichester and around.
Bosham was a very well-kept and smart little town. The houses looked lovely. I stopped at a cafe for some lunch and a break from the hot sun. It was also time to phone the West Town Inn and ask for a refund. I was calm and reasoned and Marcus was very nice about it, apologised and offered to refund me in full (even though I was prepared to pay half what I was charged as a fair fee for the service received). A small win.
I caught the small, seasonal ferry and walked through West Itchenor.
I was headed for the Witterings and there were plenty of campsites so I thought I’d be fine. Mistake. The first 2 I phoned didn’t have room, not even for a hiker with a small tent – they didn’t even think about it, just a flat ‘no’. The 3rd campsite wanted £25 and the 4th, £16. By now my search was getting too far away so I resolved that I just had to pay the £16 and acknowledge that this section of South Coast is just very expensive.
It was a longer walk to the campsite than I wanted and I headed straight there along the roads. Fortunately the site was quite nice and it was an easy walk along a track to East Witteribg for some dinner. After a pretty stressful day I was pleased to find a nice Italian restaurant with wifi, a plug socket and wine.
On reflection, I had managed to get winning outcomes to my frustrations today. I had shouted at the military and reasoned with the civilians. I am adding adaptable and tenacious to my CV.