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Thorney Island

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Thorney Island
Author: seekin, Published: 01 Apr 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guidestar1 Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guidestar1 Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guidestar1 Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guidestar0 Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guide
West Sussex, Chichester Harbour
Walk Type: Coastal
Thorney Island
Length: 10 miles,  Difficulty: boot Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guide boot Thorney Island West Sussex walking Guide
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Essentially this route is a walk around Thorney Island. It starts and ends at Nutbourne, adjacent to Nutbourne Marshes.

The route involves accessing MOD land. Entry and exit is via remote controlled gates and you will be asked for some personal details (home address etc) before you are allowed access. You will also need to negotiate a number of gates and kissing gates along the way. Some sections of path can get muddy at times.

About Thorney Island:
Thorney Island came to the notice of the Air Ministry in 1933 following a fatal air crash here. The potential for the island as an airfield was recognised during the crash investigation and, with war clouds gathering over Europe, the airfield was developed and commissioned in 1938. HM King George VI subsequently visited the Island on 9th May 1944. The Royal Navy took over Thorney Island station for a brief period in 1976 and, in 1980, West Thorney became host to many hundreds of Vietnamese families. The Island Station became an army base (Baker Barracks) at the end of 1984 when it was chosen as the home for 47 Field Regiment Royal Artillery.

Nutbourne is on the A259 between Chichester and Emsworth. On entering Nutbourne from either direction look out for Chichester Caravans on the north side of the road. Directly opposite is Farm Lane. The walk starts about 200 metres down Farm Lane at the point where the houses end on the left-hand side. There is sufficient parking on the verge for 5 or 6 cars. The approximate post code is PO18 8SB.

There is also a very good bus service to take you to the start of this walk. The bus number is 700 and the stop name is Farm Lane. The service currently runs every 20 minutes during most of the week (correct March 2016) and drops off and picks up at the top of Farm Lane.

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Walk Sections

Start to Thorney Sailing Club
Start to Thorney Sailing Club

Start point: 50.8424 lat, -0.8975 long
End point: 50.816 lat, -0.9084 long

Start the walk by going in a southerly direction following the path between a high flint wall on the left and open marshland on the right. The going here is always good, the path having been made up with scalpings by the ‘Friends of Chichester Harbour' in 2014.

To your right is an area which, up until 1920, was a mill pond with a tidal mill. The area now comes under the protection of Chichester Harbour Conservancy. According to their website, the harbour is visited by 55,000 birds annually including 10,000 Brent Geese during the winter months, so there is plenty to look out for.

The path takes us down to the water's edge where we turn right. Having turned right, follow the path along the waters edge. After 20 metres or so, as the path turns left, down to your right in the grass can be seen the remnants of the footings of the tidal mill.

Continue to follow the path, staying next to the water. Ignoring a path which goes off to the right, continue ahead and after 1200 metres we reach a point where a road (on the right) meets the path. Across the road is the Sea Scouts HQ. We turn to our left to pass through an open wooden 'gate' and continue along the coastal path. In 480 metres you will reach Thornham marina. You will need to cross a short metal bridge crossing a water channel which goes into the marina. Very occasionally this bridge is raised to allow boats to pass through. If this is the case when you arrive you can walk into the Marina and around the small area of water. If you fancy a drink or even lunch the marina houses a very nice little cafe called Bloaters.

After the bridge, continue along the coastal path as before. In about 350 metres pass over a wooden bridge. A further 700 metres takes us to the Thorney Deeps. This is a stretch of water that goes from the Thorney Channel across to exit into the Emsworth Channel. It is this stretch of water that makes Thorney Island an Island. The army have a remote controlled gate at this point. Press the bell button and you will be asked for some personal details before being allowed to continue on the journey.

As before continue along the coastal path and in about 1.5km you reach St Nicholas Church on your right. If you take a visit to the churchyard, you will find the graves of a number of allied and German airmen who bravely fought it out during the Second World War.

Thorney Sailing Club to Great Deep
Thorney Sailing Club to Great Deep

Start point: 50.816 lat, -0.9084 long
End point: 50.8304 lat, -0.9385 long

Continue past St Nicholas Church and you will meet a road with the Thorney Sailing Club on the opposite side. The footpath leaves the shoreline here to pass behind the sailing club. Turn right along the road and left in about 50 metres to walk through the car park. Keeping to the left, a fingerpost points you back towards the shore at the end of the car park. Keep again to the shoreline as the walk continues.

In about 500 metres the path enters an area of bushes and small trees. This section can be muddy during wet weather and you might want to consider taking the unofficial route along the road beside the covered area. Either way, continue heading south until the southern shore of the island is reached. Continue on (or rejoin) the path as it now turns in a north-westerly direction along the bottom of the island.

A short way along this section you pass a hide built to observe the harbour bird life. You might like to make use of this to look at some of the birds. You might also look out for the seals which often can be seen lying out on the sands warming themselves when the tide is out.

Continue the walk by keeping to the shoreline, the path turns north and as the walk proceeds a lovely view of Emsworth opens up in front. Keep going until you reach the Thorney Deeps again which, this time, reaches the Emsworth Channel. It is approximately 5km from the bird hide to the the Thorney Deeps.

As before the Army have a gate here and you will need to press the bell and identify yourself in order to pass through.

Great Deep to Prinsted
Great Deep to Prinsted

Start point: 50.8304 lat, -0.9385 long
End point: 50.8402 lat, -0.9137 long

After passing through the MOD gate, proceed still on the coastal path until you reach a group of buildings built on stilts. As you approach these buildings there are shrubs on the right. Turn right to follow a path inland behind the shrubs. You will pass the first of the buildings which will now be on your left. The path proceeds now with hedging on both sides.

In about 100 metres you will reach a kissing gate. Pass through the gate and into an area with farm buildings on your left. Pass through this area and out through another kissing gate to reach a road. Turn right and then immediately left into Thornham Lane. Continue and, after 640 metres, turn left into Prinsted Lane. Immediately on your right as you enter Prinsted Lane is a large house with a white wall adjacent to the lane. Continue along the lane for 600 metres which will bring you back to Prinsted Sea Scouts HQ which you passed on the route out.

Prinsted to End
Prinsted to End

Start point: 50.8402 lat, -0.9137 long
End point: 50.8423 lat, -0.8981 long

Once you reach the Prinsted Scout HQ, bear left on the road and follow it as it goes north through the village with houses on both sides of the road.
In 300 metres the road forks. Take the right-hand branch and in about 40 metres, turn right at the fingerpost, stepping over a small wall. Continue with the drive to a house on your right and a hedge and then a fence on your left. After about 100 metres the path becomes wooded on your right with a field on your left.

The path exits into a field and meets a path which goes round the edge of the field. Continue straight ahead, effectively turning left onto the path round the left-hand field edge. Follow the path round the field, turning left and then right (and ignoring the path that goes off ahead as you reach the right turn). At the end of the field go through a kissing gate and into an orchard. Follow the path which becomes a gravel drive and passes a bungalow on the right.

Shortly after the bungalow the path becomes separated from the drive by an open wooden fence and then turns left as it passes a house on the left. Follow the path around the boundary of the house to exit onto Farm Lane. Turn right into Farm Lane and in 260 metres you will reach your starting point.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author seekin and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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