Any trip to West Sussex this summer just has to include a lovely ramble in the glorious countryside or a bike ride breathing in the fresh country air. As a family, we’ve done short walks, long walks, coastal ambles and uphill struggles with our children throughout West Sussex. On a balmy summer day, you’ll struggle to find anything more pleasant than a family stroll and picnic on the beautiful South Downs of West Sussex, or an effortless cycle on the flat coastal plains, taking in the sea views and enjoying the fresh air. Wherever you base yourselves, you can go to the local Tourist Information Centre (Chichester, Arundel, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Midhurst and Worthing) for local trails which are suitable for buggies, or pack your baby carrier or sling to give yourself total freedom to explore.
Here are two lovely family walks, which little legs can manage and which won’t leave you gasping for breath!
Harting Down (OS Explorer map 120)
The joy of walking here is that you can go for a real leg-stretching ramble with your three wheeler or backpack, or just potter and enjoy the views at toddler pace. The National Trust car park is just south of South Harting village, off the steep B2141. The views are spectacular as soon as you arrive. We never bother to carry our picnic; you can enjoy it in the picnic area by the car park, looking down over the rolling patchwork of fields and villages. This is part of the South Downs Way, a 160km path running from Winchester to Eastbourne, right through England’s newest National Park. Here at South Harting, you can have a real flavour of the South Downs, without walking for a hundred miles!
Sidlesham Quay and Pagham Nature Reserve (OS Explorer map 121)
This is a lovely amble if you’re looking for a short, flat walk that you can do with the pushchair, taking in a bit of the coast and some nature spotting for curious little eyes. The 1.5 mile walk is on a circular wheelchair path so it’s totally accessible for buggies. The walk starts in the Nature Reserve Car Park (off the B2145 road to Selsey from Chichester). Follow the nature trail, taking in a hide, Sidlesham Quay and Pagham Harbour. There’s even a pub (the Crab and Lobster) to stop for a quick bit of refreshment!
You’ll find some wonderful off road cycle routes in West Sussex, some of which are ideal for cycling with little ones in seats, or with older siblings wobbling along at their own pace. The South Downs Way offers some incredible cycling but might be a bit too challenging with little ones. If you’re anything like me and the idea of all those steep inclines leaves you sweating before you even begin why not try these equally lovely but less hilly routes!
The Centurion Way, Chichester
You can go 6 miles each way on this disused railway path between Chichester and West Dean. The path is perfect for cycling and passes through woodland and fields as well as alongside some bizarre sculptures! To download a leaflet with a map, go to: www.westsussex.gov.uk.
Houghton Forest (OS Landranger 197)
As well as the South Downs and lovely coast you’ll also find some beautiful forests and woodland in West Sussex. Houghton Forest, just north of Arundel has a lovely way marked ride with fantastic views. Happy cycling!