RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Bosham channel

Civilised though it is with all modern facilities, this little village shares space all around with a teeming mass of wildlife.

Saturday, 1st April 2017, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm

In China, Bosham creek would have been developed by now or the mudflats terminally polluted. This walk shows you the better of two completely different worlds.

The complete walk around the top of the channel to Chidham and back the same way is 3.6 miles (6kms). Car parking is in a large pay-park near the harbour. If you park on the hard on the edge of the creek be careful not to allow your car to be covered by the tide as has often happened to others.

A footpath around the edge of the channel and past the church is covered at high tide, when a diversion through the streets is needed. Holy Trinity looks humble outside but majestic in; a mini cathedral. King Canute’s daughter has her tomb here, her father tried to stop the tide so the legend goes, and Knots were named after him as they too are ever at the tidal edge. The Bayeux tapestry records King Harold leaving for Normandy in 1064 riding to hounds.

If the tide is high there is a way through the streets past the 1837 Congregational church into garden twittens and down to the saltings. Tamarisk bushes and Oak trees line the top of the tide along Colner creek. There you will see the wild plants of the saltings such as Sea beet with its dark green shiny leaves, Sea arrow grass. And then nearer the water Sea purslane which looks almost like a small bush, and has dense masses of oblong fleshy leaves.

At low tide you can see some bristly patches of sea rice grass growing on the mudflats. This is native to South America and the seed was brought in to England inadvertently on the bottoms of sailing ship over a century ago.

Black-tailed godwits feed here together with Brent geese and Curlews until the end of March. I usually see some Dunlins here, Grey plover, Green plover (Peewits or Lapwings) and Redshank. All of these disperse north to breeding grounds for three months but then come back for nine months. So this is an essential place for survival.

It is possible to walk all the way around the shore at low tide but officially the public footpath heads north to a pavement along the A259 and runs west to Cutmill creek, then dives south along the seawall to Chidham.