Chichester Harbour AONB

West Itchenor, Chichester Harbour - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty West Sussex
West Itchenor, Chichester Harbour AONB - © Janine Forbes via Wikimedia Commons

Chichester Harbour – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in West Sussex and Hampshire on the south coast in England. Designated a AONB back in 1964, the AONB is a compact 74 square miles located between Chichester in the east to Hayling Island in the west. The area is known for its unspoilt coastal landscape, it is a haven for local wildlife and very popular for sailing and boating activities.

The area retains its sense of isolation and natural wilderness, with a number of rithes and creeks. The area is important for wildlife, visitors can see wildfowl and waders n the area within the AONB; the site is of international importance for nature conservation and is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

The area is popular for sailing, boat trips, bird-watching, day trippers, walkers and cyclists with a number of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the unspoilt scenic landscape, tranquilly and wildlife around the area.


Chichester Harbour AONB is located within the counties of West Sussex and Hampshire on the south coast. The area offers visitors an interesting landscape, the large natural harbour provides a place where visitors can enjoy the great outdoors. The area covered under the AONB is located between the cathedral city of Chichester, West Sussex in the east to Hayling Island, Hampshire in the west. Cannock, the county town of Stafford and the market town of Rugeley. The location on the south coast means the AONB is easily assessable from southern England and is approx 2 hours from London, taking it assessable as a day trip destination from London and much of southern England. The area offers a scenic natural attraction showcasing some of the finest elements of the English landscape and wildlife.

The area is unusual as it is one of the last remaining areas on the south coast that is relatively under-developed. The Chichester Harbour Conservancy is the statutory harbour authority charged with conserving, maintaining and improving the harbour area. The area is noted for its tidal flats and saltings which are of ecological value and a number of creeks and rithes, there are a number of scenic local villages including Itchenor and Bosham. In the harbour lowlands there is farmland and commercial fishing that form part of the local economy.

The special qualities relating to the areas landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage and nature conservation make Chichester Harbour a special place.

Local accommodation includes a mix of hotels, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses and cottages, there is accommodation available in the nearby town of Havant in Hampshire and in the city of Chichester located close by to the area of the AONB.

Visitor attractions in the area include Boat Trips; visitors can explore the area via boat offering a relaxing and enjoyable way to learn more about the area, the local wildlife, landscape and history. The boats used include the solar powered catamaran, the Solar Heritage and the Terror Sailing Trips that use an oyster boat. Trips are available from Chichester Harbour Conservancy.

Bird Watching is a popular activity in the area, Chichester Harbour is home to some 55,000 birds that are resident or passing through the harbour each year, making it a popular destination for bird watching enthusiasts. Visitors can see various types of waders, swans, gulls, herons, ducks, geese, crow, wren in the area along with Kingfishers and Owls in the winter months. There are number of locations in the AONB where visitors can enjoy the wildlife; these include East Head, Dell Quay, Bosham and Northney that are located for their wildlife. During the winter months there are weekly walks and bird watching trips organised by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy; where visitors can learn more about the birds with the help of a knowledgeable guide.

Harbour Villages include Bosham, one of the most popular villages for visitors includes a number of shops, scenic cottages and some great views. Local attractions include the Church of the Holy Trinity, Quay Meadow is run by the National Trust, visitors can enjoy a picnic here in scenic surroundings. Visitors can visit one of the tea shops serving tea and cakes whilst enjoying the views. Bosham Walk is a craft centre where visitors can find a number of handmade British crafts.

Dell Quay and Apuldram offers visitors the opportunity to go fishing and crabbing from the end of the quay, enjoy a drink in the local pub where visitors can enjoy some of the finest views over the harbour. Other local attractions include the historic St Mary the Virgin church located in Apuldram, the historic church dates back to the 13th century, the Harbour Education Centre is located in Dell Quay, the centre offers education field trips and activities including painting and photography.

Guided Walks & Activities are available run by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy; programmes are available throughout the year including a number of guided walks, boat trips and a range of activities appealing to a range of interests. The activities and walks offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the AONB in an informal environment. The annual Festival of Harbour Walks takes place in the summer each year; the festival includes walks covering varied terrain covering countryside and shoreline.

Visitors can enjoy a trip to the Chichester Harbour AONB; a firm favourite among boating and wildlife enthusiasts, the fine harbour scenery and tranquil location provide a great place to relax and get away from it all and enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits.

How to Get There

Chichester Harbour are accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The city of Chichester is located next to the AONB, Chichester is located approx 80 miles from central London. From London, take the A308 then the A3 and A3(M). From the A3(M) take the A27 towards Chichester/Hayling Island then take the A286 that goes to Chichester. The approx journey time is 2 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Chichester has regular services with London Waterloo, London Victoria and London Bridge stations, the journey time is approx 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. From Chichester there are bus services available to Chichester Harbour; services are provided by Stagecoach.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Gatwick Airport, from Gatwick Airport there are services available to Chichester. The approx journey times are 3 hours 20 minutes to 4 hours. Coach services to Chichester via Gatwick Airport are provided by services are provided by National Express.

Contact Details

Chichester Harbour AONB
Harbour Office
West Sussex
PO20 7AW

Telephone: +44 (0)1243 512301

Website: Chichester Harbour AONB


View Larger Map

For Local Search and Directions see: Chichester Harbour (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to Chichester Harbour ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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