Autumn might be turning into winter but as The Great Boden Diaries’ contributor Sasha Wilkins reveals the British beach is an idyllic destination for friends and family all year round
I grew up in Kent, not far from Camber Sands, and returning to beaches with my sis always reminds of those lovely golden childhood days building sandcastles (and throwing sand at each other). Inspired by those days, last month my sister and I headed down to the south coast, along with my father, both sausage dogs and Remy who works with me. We headed to the Witterings, West and East, on the tip of West Sussex, just near Chichester.
Some people believe that we all have an affinity with one of the elements: fire, air, earth or water. If that’s true I am definitely a water girl. I’ve always felt happiest in rivers, on canals or by the sea and when I want to get away from it all I head to the coast. Whether it’s to blow away cobwebs, or picnic with friends and dogs, there’s nothing better than a bracing English beach. (In fact I love English beaches so much I dedicated a whole page to them in my cookbook Friends, Food, Family. From the breezy Cley next the Sea in Norfolk to the often-deserted shingle stretch of Greenaway in Cornwall, these are the places for picnics.)
Of the two Wittering beaches, East Wittering is more low-key: a shingle beach, with groynes dividing the beach into sections. (I like to perch on them like a heron and watch the world go by.) There’s a hut where you can buy freshly caught fish to take home and an ice-cream van for essential supplies.
The surf crashes onto the shore, which our biggest sausage dog, Posetta Baddog, adores. She’s in her element too on the beach; she thinks seaweed is beyond delicious, and gets so involved in snacking that she often gets caught unawares by the waves and gets washed into the sea. I’ve had to rescue her more times that I can count.
This was little Lettice’s (my new Miniature Smooth Red Dachshund) first trip to the seaside and she wasn’t quite sure about the pebbles. Her solution was to jump at my sister until she sat with Letty in her arms.
About 20 minutes west is West Wittering beach which boasts a huge sweep of golden sand. Reached by a private lane from the main road, you have to pay to use the car park but it’s worth it to not have to lug your stuff for miles.
West Wittering is probably best known for its brightly coloured beach huts and the glorious wide-open space for sunbathing and playing in the summer but I love it for the long walks you can take along the shore out of season. There’s a clearly defined no-dog zone but still plenty of space for sausages to roam.
Between the Witterings is Pagham and Pagham Harbour – don’t get them confused as they are a 15-minute drive apart. In tiny Pagham Harbour, there is The Crab & Lobster, an award-winning fish restaurant where the humble exterior belies the fact that it is always packed. Do make a reservation or prepare to eat their excellent fish and chips on a bench overlooking the beautiful harbor – not that that would be a hardship.
Crab & Lobster: Mill Lane, Sidlesham, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 7NB