Starting mileage: 15040 km
Day started: 10:00
Day ended: 21:00
Slowing down a little today, as tomorrow we visit Portsmouth and that’s easily a full day trip.
We started with a detour to vwkampers.com who replaced our broken horn button (for free – thanks!), and then got back to Arundel. Arundel is a small medieval town in the shadow of a massive castle – indeed, the castle walls seem to encompass the entire town on one side; it’s one of the largest medieval castles in England, and one of the few still in use as a family seat – of the Dukes of Norfolk.
As the current Duke had not agreed to give the castle over to National Trust, we had to skip the tour, as the prices were extortionate, and enjoyed instead a trip to the town below, which, as these places tend to be, was full of expensive restaurants, delicatessen and cafes. For me, the highlight was the tiny shopping arcade built inside an old printing house, which contained quaint, Dickensian stores like the Walking Stick Shop.
We moved on swiftly to another ancient cathedral town, Chichester, the capital of the region, with its cathedral spire visible for miles over the South Downs. The Chichester high street sports the usual array of chain shops and cafes, and an impressively stocked tool shop where we spend way too much time 🙂 After that all we really had time for was to walk around the two main landmarks of the town: the wonderfully preserved 15th century Market Cross – the finest of its kind, and remarkably still in its original position – and the cathedral itself. I don’t have much to say about the cathedral – it’s tall, grey and big, so big in fact that for the most of the town’s history its entire population could fit inside.
By the time we got to Emsworth – by way of Southbourne farm shop, which turned out to be about as expensive (and well-stocked) as our Waitrose! – the tiny town was closing down; we’ve been here before, though, so that was not a great loss, and the tidal harbour was as picturesque as ever, with its houses standing so near the sea each has its own seawall. The Thorney Island RSPB nearby is a unique reserve (full of ripe, sweet blackberries in late summer) in the middle of a military base – you need to cross through barbed-wire fence under the CCTV cameras to spot the ospreys it’s famous for – and a few tanks if you’re lucky. I gather they’re not that concerned about the security of the site.
We tried to find a place to stay as near Portsmouth as possible, and ended up on another island of the multi-pronged Chichester Harbour – the Hayling. With that, we crossed into Hampshire.
The Fleet Farm is one of those “will do” places which we’ll sometimes have to stay at when there’s little to choose from. The small C&CC site near Emsworth turned out to not have toilets, and the big one was too big. Fleet Farm is bordered by a big static caravan site on one side, but is secluded enough for that to not matter, and it’s situated on a nice tidal creek, so that’s a plus (the mosquitoes are a minus). The facilities are rough, to put it mildly, and it’s not cheap – £17.5 with no hookup – but it’s as near Portsmouth as you can get, which I suppose puts the price up considerably.
New horn button fitted ; oil topped up.