It takes me 10 minutes to find my way out of Bosham as the tide is high and the houses and sailing clubs have monopolised the seafront. I walk through the churchyard 3 times before settling on a plan, but in the meantime I catch sight of a beautiful house. It looks very like the one I embroidered as an 8 year old which is now hanging in our kitchen.
After navigating my way through the back streets of Bosham the path takes me across fields, over a road and on to a narrow grassy path down the other side of Bosham Channel – there are lots of nettles and I am wearing shorts! The path soon stops so I take the tarmac road towards Chidham. Just before the village, a path leads off to the left through a small PRIVATE estate of manicured houses, signs everywhere instructing walkers to keep to the path. I am heading for the tip of the peninsula known as Cobnor Point but after being directed away from the water to avoid walking through a youth activity centre, I am then herded into another diversion. New fences have been erected to guide walkers down a temporary path which passes a busy site where diggers chew into the earth.
A sign informs me that two breaches with bridges are planned, to protect the intertidal habitat affected by climate change – I now feel a little ashamed of my initial irritation. Rounding a corner I come to what I think must be the point of the peninsula. It is a beautiful spot overlooking the expanse of bright blue water. A knot of trees shaped by the prevailing wind provides the backdrop to a few quiet moments on a bench, a perfect spot to let thoughts go……………………….and to take heavy boots off and feel the warm grass between your toes. It is so peaceful.
However, little do I know that every moment I spend luxuriating in the sun, the sea is creeping another few inches up the shore. I put on my boots to follow the footpath sign and then realise I will have to turn back. The path in front of me will soon be covered in water – the tide is coming in fast and there is no way I can walk higher up.
Reluctantly I head back through the sheep runs, trespassing on the grounds of Cobnor Farm to come out onto a PRIVATE tarmac road that leads down to Chidham. I now have a blister so I head for the pub marked on the map to get myself something to drink and search out the plasters. From there on it’s a short walk on the road until I veer off left onto a path which takes me back to the sea wall. This part of the walk is easy – a good path on a raised bank beside the water, a very welcome sea breeze and long views.
Stopping to talk to a cheery gentleman with five beautiful golden retrievers I am suddenly witness to a close encounter with a wind surfer. Losing control of his craft he falls into the water very close to where we are standing and although I don’t want to stare, I am fascinated by his many attempts to get back up on the board again. After a great deal of heaving on the sail and sloshing about in the water he eventually gets himself to an upright position and the wind whisks him away. Arriving at Prinsted I decide not to walk around Thorney Island (no islands or anything that calls itself an island) and after wandering around in someone’s front garden looking for the footpath sign I head off to cross to the opposite side of the island. Coming out of a wood I am confronted with the strange sight of what look like rows of white containers on black wooden stilts. These are the Emsworth Deckhouses presumably for the owners of the boats in Emsworth Marina – small boats, canoes and any other sailing paraphernalia can be stored underneath the houses.
The signs in the boatyard are very confusing, I ask for directions but have to keep checking that I’m still on a right of way – I am battle scarred from a day of private estates. Eventually I come out to the “pond” – a narrow path crosses it which leads out to the centre of Emsworth. It’s only 4pm but I need somewhere to lie down so I head for my B&B.