West Sussex Overview
- Cow parsley and seaweed
- Country life
- Sailing, racing, real ale
With the cathedral city of Chichester providing its meanest seaside streets, West Sussex is a green and pleasant county, where seasons and hills roll gently, all against the ever-shifting backdrop of the sea.
Although much of West Sussex is in the South Downs National Park, there are no spectacular peaks or great dramas in this landscape; rather the promise of discovering the unexpected. What you may not expect is the rich quantity of space: a drive between sprawl-free villages may lead you up onto a big-sky point on the South Downs Way, or into ancient woodland. The seaside gets a little more crowded, with sailors, windsurfers and sandcastle-builders thronging the region’s pretty beaches and harbours, but the coastline is studded with ample beachside cafés and pubs. And, this being 21st-century England, there’s no shortage of fine food with which to fuel your explorations of this corking county.
Wonderfully West Sussex
With its plentiful supply of natural harbours and beautiful coastal villages, West Sussex is the natural home of the sailing enthusiast; you’re unlikely to travel more than a few miles along this coast without seeing a regatta in progress or hearing water slapping against the hull of a boat. Catch the action at one of Chichester Harbour’s regular meets (see www.chifed.org for dates), or, if spectating from the sidelines is not your style, Chichester Harbour Turtles (+44 (0)7863 567584) will show you the ropes (pun intended), with sailing instruction from £15 a person an hour. Alternatively, take a guided walk or cruise with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy (www.conservancy.co.uk).
- Chichester’s Central Cars has an office near the station (0800 789432; +44 (0)1243 780780). Arundel Cars are on +44 (0)1903 883366 (www.arundelcars.co.uk). Avowedly friendly and honest, the Ugly Car Co (0800 091 1912; www.uglycars.biz) operates throughout much of West Sussex.
- Tipping culture
- 10 or 15 per cent is standard, but many restaurants now add a discretionary 12.5 per cent, so be careful not to tip twice.
- Packing tips
- Dig out your buckets and spades for long and sandy West Wittering beach (www.westwitteringbeach.co.uk). To get a proper look at the South Downs, you’ll want walking boots, waterproofs, a compass and OS Explorer maps 120 and/or 121. And don’t forget a picnic hamper and golf umbrella if you’re attending an event at Goodwood.
- Recommended reads
- Fishbourne Roman Palace is the backdrop for parts of A Body in the Bathhouse, a novel by Lindsey Davis. The Racing Post might not be a bad idea before a day at the races.
- Regional specialities
- Sussex producers are proud of their lamb; and you’ll eat great fish, such as trout and gilthead bream, in season. Scour pub menus for ‘Sussex smokies’ – a baked delight made with smoked mackerel (or haddock) and cheese – and Sussex Pond Pudding, a suet dumpling filled with lemony, sugary butter that oozes out to form said ‘pond’. Among local ales are Horsham Best Bitter, and Sussex Slipcote is a ewe’s milk cheese with a long lineage; get an award‑winning example from High Weald Dairy in Horsted Keynes (+44 (0)1825 791636; www.highwealddairy.co.uk).
- Pound sterling.
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the UK: +44. Chichester: 01243.
- Do go/don't go
- All year round is great, as with much of the temperate south coast, but we particularly love May, when the country lanes are like green tunnels, and the seaside hordes have yet to descend. When there’s a big event on at Goodwood, the country lanes get gridlocked.
Don't go home without...
… walking from the church in Bosham village around the pretty quay, and choosing which house you’d like to live in; mull it over while you nurse a pint at the Anchor Bleu pub (+44 (0)1243 573956) in the village.