I wanted to try another Ramblers Walk and this one was close to where I live, and the location had been on the To-Do list for some time. This is a circular walk of about 7 miles and, for me, has a historical significance. The majority of Thorney Island is owned by the MOD and for many years was an RAF Base where my first Operational Squadron had spent some time.
Start: On junction of Thorney Road & Thornham Lane SU 75674 04924
Finish: On junction of Thorney Road & Thornham Lane SU 75674 04924
Distance: 7 miles
Ascent: 81 feet
Duration: 2hr 20min
OS Map Required: OL8 Chichester, South Harting and Selsey
The route, for most of its way, follows the line of the Sussex Border Path. The route initially heads west to intercept the coastal path and then sticks closely to the sea wall all the way around the island. At Thornham Point, the paths forks with the left-hand fork taking you back across country to the parking area.
The southern three quarters of the island is under MOD control and access is gained at two check points on the coastal path. At both locations are electronically controlled gates and an intercom to the Main Guardroom. On this occasion the intercom was not working but pressing the button got the required reaction from the Guardroom.
Be very careful once you are inside the MOD perimeter. This is a military training area and you are required to stick strictly to the designated PROW footpath. If you see anything that looks like spent ordnance, DO NOT touch but notify the Guardroom by phone.
The RAF built an airfield on Thorney Island in 1938 which was subsequently passed over to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. My first Operational Squadron, 42 Sqn, was based here from 1938-40 and 1946-47. 1984 finally saw the base renamed Baker Barracks and handed over to the Army.
This walk would be of great interest to bird watchers and those with a general interest coastal flora and fauna. As a result of being owned by the MOD, Thorney Island has become a haven for wildlife and is designated a site of special scientific interest.
Along the majority of the route, the shoreline is rocky however, once you approach the southern tip at Longmere Point, the coast becomes very sandy and would make an ideal stopping off point for a picnic and a paddle.
This is a most enjoyable walk and not at all difficult. There are some places which are a little rough underfoot and others which require walking on shingle or sand. Unfortunately, due to one style, this cannot be deemed an accessible walk. This style, near Prinstead Point, could easily be replaced by a swing gate as used in the MOD sector.
Pick a nice day and this will be a great walk. However, be warned the whole of the walk is very exposed to the elements coming straight in off the English Channel.
Ordnance Survey Maps Required