One of our prettiest natural harbours, with the old world charm of Itchenor, the briny bustle of Bosham and the culture of Chichester; add in some great beaches at the Witterings, fun, fast racing with beautiful day boats to watch from waterside pubs and you have it all.
Chichester is a compact walking town with lovely gardens around the Cathedral, some good independent shops and a thriving theatre that attracts decent plays (and players) from London and a serious Art Gallery.
This small, theatrical town is buzzing with a great choice of restaurants, allowing you to take advantage of the pre theatre menus that are usually well-priced.
There is a choice of moorings in the Harbour, and we plumped for Premier who run the conveniently placed, very pretty Chichester Marina. It sits on the Salterns Way, offering an attractive hike or bike into Chichester.
We got on the bikes, walking past the steady queue outside the Boat House, towards the lock building, where much fun is had watching the ebb and flow, rope throwing, skipper shouting and boaters’ banter whilst waiting to cross over t’other side to cycle along the Salterns Way.
Crown & Anchor
Wild flowers, verdant barley fields and the blue glimpse of the harbour to our right, we sped along towards the spire of the Cathedral, but could not resist a glimpse at the Crown & Anchor, in top spot at Dell Quay and under new ownership now. I have heard good things about their new menu, locally sourced ingredients and the oyster & fizz bar.
We were ready for a stiff coffee and headed straight to Attibassi Coffee in Church Square. I love the way this retro, Roman style espresso house rubs shoulders with Raymond Blanc on one side and fellow Italian Carluccios on the other, but is cooler and busier than either. The uber bright red espresso machine looks like an enormous radiogram, but sits well with the red leather banquette seating and interesting architectural wallpaper. It has great coffee and, for mocha fans, try a café Nutella and an Aperol Spritz to accompany your panini.
Then off for a quick whizz round Pallant House, with its wonderful minimalist garden, London Plane Trees and some great sculptures. We could easily have stopped for a slice of cake in the temptingly tasteful cafe but we had other plans.
Passing the Cathedral
Cycling past the Cathedral we wanted to see how the Peregrine chicks were doing. You should be able to see the parents and fledglings well into June.
We then spotted an interesting sign ‘Belle Isle’, so we went in. I loved the interior of Belle Isle, a bright bar, smiley staff, stencilled washed wood, lots of fun for a group or to bring the teens, who will love the fish finger sandwiches and burritos.
We had a lunch date at Amelie & Friends, though, as it came highly recommended for a special night out – as did No 1 and Food & Fork, which are all independents. These top guys are not particularly cheap. For example, Food & Fork’s Market Menu is £19.50 for two delicious courses, but Côte can knock £10 off this, if you are in the mood for simple calamari and Steak Frites. I have to say they do this very well, even if they are a chain. They have exceptionally good bread, flown in from Paris daily I’m told.
The review: Amelie & Friends
We started with the asparagus, with poached egg and wild garlic emulsion. Now I love asparagus, but think there was too much emulsion and not quite enough flavour. However this was compensated when the Onglet steak arrived with its Port jus and some fine fluffy chips, really crunchy on the outside, but great mashed up in some of the jus – full of flavour.
The warm lemon meringue pie with raspberry sorbet was magnificent – top marks to the pastry chef.
Lunch came to £35 each with a glass of Picpoul. There were many happy neighbours enjoying a special Sunday lunch feeling. It has a nice conservatory and patio with some fine old olive trees at the back.
The bike: Salterns Way – 18km route from the centre of Chichester out to the sand dunes at East Head, conveniently via Chichester Marina. A well kept path, not road bike suitable.
The hike – It is just over 4.5 miles, so will take about an hour and a half. If you haven’t time or the inclination to walk this far I would suggest the lovely river walk (1.6 miles and come back via the fields) to Dell Quay (clearly signed once you cross the lock) and have lunch at the Crown & Anchor. There are a couple of walks within Chichester itself. I loved the Tree Trail, as I like trees, but the City Walls walk looked fun too and takes you into the Bishop’s Palace Garden.
Best of the rest
Whipped & Baked – sour dough and a great choice of cakes and bakes
Artisan Café – best brownies
The Exclusive Cake Shop & Vintage Tea Rooms – what a mouthful, but I can vouch for the wonderful cakes and teas in this wee gem of a place. Try the Cowdray Afternoon Tea
Russell’s Garden Centre – try the sausage rolls in the deli section, a nice café. It is a one-hour walk from the Marina
@chichesterharbo Loving the Bluebells in the woodlands around Chichester Harbour today
@ChichesterFT We also won a Regional Award, Sustainability Award and the Conservation Award
@FestOfChi See behind the scenes at Chichester Cathedral. Discover its secret chamber, 4th July 1pm
need to know
Russell’s Garden Centre: www.russellsgardencentre.com/restaurant/
Moorings/Salterns Way Cycle Route: www.conservancy.co.uk
Bosham moorings call the Quay master on: 01243 573336
Chichester Marina: www.premiermarinas.com/uk-marina-locations/chichester-marina
Visit Chichester: www.visitchichester.org
Theatre: www.cft.org.uk (Educating Rita from 18 June)
Coastal & Outdoor Living, Chichester Marina, sells the colourful French range Mat de Miysane
Festival of Speed: 25 – 28 June
Festival of Chichester: 13 June – 12 July: A celebration of the arts, offering a varied programme of events