Cycling along Salterns Way and catching the Bosham to Itchenor Ferry has officially become one of my favourite “it’s warm in England so I must be outside” activities.
You see, as I’m sure you’re all aware, England isn’t the warmest of countries. It’s often grey (there’s no arguing that), but it’s also mild. With the exception of a few storms here and there, it’s beautifully benign. We don’t have hurricanes, we don’t have tsunamis, we don’t have bushfires and we don’t have earthquakes.
What we do have is an abundance of cloud—which is great because ya’know, the weather isn’t trying to kill you, but it does get a little tedious. So when Chichester had a day where that occasional glimpse of sunshine cut through, it was the perfect excuse to hop on the ol’ bicycle and cycle along Salterns Way.
Before we get any further into this post I have to say: to call myself a cyclist would be a lie. I didn’t even pass my cycling proficiency in primary school. Although that was less to do with my cycling skills and more to do with the fact that my brother’s friend stole my bike the night before my test and failed to return it in time for school the next day. But alas, despite my lack of childhood cycling credentials, I still enjoy the odd bike ride. Not enough to go ahead and buy my own bike, but enough to drive to a friend’s house and borrow theirs one particularly sunny day so that I could take a ride along Salterns Way.
The route of Salterns Way is circa 12 miles long, depending upon where you join. It technically begins in Chichester Centre, with many choosing to cycle along Chichester Canal, through Hunston and into Chichester Marina before continuing on to East Head at West Wittering where Salterns Way ends. But that’s not the route that I took because ya’know, despite living in Chichester, I didn’t have my own bike so had to go and get one!
I took the car to a friend’s house in Southbourne, said my hellos and as I was raiding the shed ready to borrow their old bike, saw that they had levelled up and were no longer using their old bikes with gears. Oh no no no, they had brand new electric-assisted bikes! Meaning that I could do minimal-effort riding yet still keep up with those fancy-pants cyclists who wear lycra.
After finishing my mini celebration for not having to cycle properly (lazy, eh!) I took the bike and rode from Southbourne, through Nutbourne, and into Bosham—stopping at Co-op for some water (it was a hot day and hydration is important kids!). From here I took the scenic route into Bosham Quay.
The tide was out so I was able to cut across the water
And after snapping a few photos, I continued on my way, following the road around the water’s edge, cycling past the millions of potholes that have developed in the road from moving tides, past the water and onto the road towards Smuggler’s Lane.
From there the road branches off around a bend, but on your right-hand side you’ll find space to park the car and a public footpath that cuts through the trees—this is where you want to head down to get to the Itchenor Ferry.
At the end of the public footpath, the views open up. If you stare straight ahead, you’ll see Itchenor in front of you, just behind the body of water that stretches out separating Bosham and Itchenor from joining.
To get to the Itchenor Ferry, you quite literally just need to ride straight from the public footpath, ensuring you stop when you get to the water’s edge known as Ferry Hard. Because ya’know, you don’t want to get wet.
It wasn’t long before the Itchenor Ferry arrived.
Operated by Andy, Itchenor Ferry has been used as a way to cross over from Bosham to Itchenor for years—saving people 13 miles worth of journey! It’s also regularly used by local boat owners as the transport to get to their vessels.
The price for the Itchenor Ferry (at the time of this post) is as follows:
The Itchenor Ferry holds 12 passengers in total and comes complete with life jackets stored beneath the seat, because ya’know, safety first. During my trip across to Itchenor I was joined by other bike riders, people nipping over for lunch and a couple who were about to embark on a two-month sailing adventure with their dog.
It was an eclectic bunch and I loved that a group of people on such different paths in life, shared one small journey together.
It took about fifteen minutes to cross from Bosham to Itchenor on the Itchenor Ferry. However, I’ve had friends who have gone straight across in under ten. I think the timings will vary depending upon what the people using the ferry service are using it for. For example, if you’re sharing the ferry with people who’d like dropping off at their boats, or if everyone’s going to the same destination.
After arriving in Itchenor I rolled the bike off of the ramp on the ferry and onto the jetty. Originally I was planning to ride to Chichester Marina and grab lunch there, but it was such a lovely day I ended up stopping at The Ship for a spot of lunch instead.
I chose a table outside to make the most of the summer sunshine, but also because it’s a dog-friendly pub and being outside meant there were more dogs available for me to pet. The only downside was how many wasps there were buzzing around. Insects don’t bother me but when I was younger I got stung and blew up like a balloon so I have no idea if I am allergic or not—and I also have no desire to find out. So that was a bit of a downer, but eventually, they buzzed off to bother another table, leaving me to enjoy a risk-free lunch.
If you’re curious, I went for the classic fish and chips.
It was delicious and after finishing off my drink I continued on my way. Originally, I was going to follow Salterns Way towards East Head in West Wittering, but I decided to stop and visit some family who live in Itchenor instead.
As soon as I arrived they tried to ply me with cheese and snacks, a sign that I’ve definitely obtained the right family, but after the lunch I had at The Ship, I was stuffed. So instead, we sat chatting away in the sun before cycling back towards Chichester.
I followed Salterns Way, cycling through the fields in Itchenor and into Birdham Pool. I always find it strangely nostalgic being in Birdham Pool. I grew up nearby and when I was feeling particularly energetic or sad, the loop around Birdham Pool was my favourite running route to clear my head. If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll already know this, but water calms me, so I find the place particularly soothing.
I cycled through my nostalgia, riding past the spot where I fell and smashed my knee, past the boats and across the bridge where the swans once chased me. I cycled past The Boat House (the place I was originally planning to stop for lunch) and stopped on the Marina Lock as the boats which had been out making the most of the sun, passed through into Chichester Marina.
I stopped for a minute to make the most of the last stretch of sunshine
Before heading further along Salterns Way. This time passing through Salterns Copse, a woodland that’s a haven for wildlife and overactive imaginations. It’s relatively dark, thanks to the overtowering tree tunnels, which inspires a sense of adrenaline for those who imagine a horror story coming to life every five minutes (*cough* me *cough*), but it’s the largest ancient woodland on the Manhood Peninsula, and as a result, is of great ecological interest. Especially for those who are interested in butterflies, stag beetles and woodpeckers.
I am not such a person, but I am a person who likes to be back home before the sun sets and it gets cold. So I notched the bike up a gear and whizzed along the coastal path into Dell Quay.
Originally, I was planning to head to The Crown and Anchor for sundowners, but ended up meeting friends for a bevvie at Bosham Inn instead. They were driving, so I switched on the ol’ electric assist on the bikes and hauled-ass through Apuldram and into Bosham to meet them.
Which was pretty easy to be fair. You see, one of the best things about the route that Salterns Way takes is that the route is pretty much flat which makes for very easy riding. The Salterns Way route covers an abundance of different terrain (might want to soften the suspension a little bit!) but because it’s mostly offroad you don’t need to worry about cars too much—something which comes in super handy in the summertime when you want to head to West Wittering Beach whilst avoiding the miles of traffic which are queuing for the same thing!
The only downside is that, whilst the route along Salterns Way is well maintained, it isn’t necessarily well signposted… So if you haven’t done the route before and aren’t familiar with the area, you might want to have a map/phone as a backup.
As I sat sipping drinks in Bosham Inn I couldn’t help but reflect upon what a great way to spend a day Salterns Way is. A bike ride is such a simple thing, but it’s also only simple because of how generous local land-owners have been with their land, enabling people such as myself to ride the route with ease.
Is Salterns Way enough to make me buy my own bike? Probably not.
But is it enough to make me pay to rent one so that I can ride the route on the next warm day? Abso-chuffin-lutely.