Thorney Island

Mudflats - Chichester Harbour © Bob Parkes
Saltmarsh © Footprints
Sussex Border Path on Thorney Island © Ian Cunliffe

Jutting out into Chichester harbour, Thorney Island was used as an R.A.F. Station until 1976. It has thus remained remote and free from commercial development. The remote shoreline path offers fine views over the harbour and the vast number of sea birds which congregate there.

This is a trail in the Sussex Border Path collection of trails. Together they describe the full length of this long distance footpath.

The walk starts by the Slipper Mill Pond at the eastern end of the town where the ring road (A27) joins the old road through the town (GR 753058). Walk eastwards from Mill pond on south side of A27 for 150 yards Immediately before the Sussex Brewery pub turn right along twitten between house and lock-up garages and go ahead over stile. Continue along right-hand edge of field following overhead power lines. At crossing wire fence, locate stile in right-hand corner of field and continue in same direction still with power lines (do NOT take right-hand path). Maintain direction behind Marina buildings and past boats, following line of tall trees on your left. Cross Marina access road and continue between trees on left and 'deckhouses' on stilts on right.

In about 150 yards, just before end of deckhouses, look for stile on left and signed path. Take this path across middle of field to reach road. Take narrow enclosed path opposite which opens out into field. Go ahead in same direction to reach Thornham House. Continue eastwards on access drive to tarmac drive, passing between 2 brick pillars and in 200 yards, where you meet lane form Prinsted, turn right on footpath along edge of water (Chichester Harbour).

Pass straight through Marina area on narrow 'gangway' bridges and then continue ahead over substantial footbridge to reach Prinsted Point (bench seat). Follow path on top of bank to reach MOD gate. Press button and give details as requested and gate will be opened to provide access to continuation of path. Follow path on top of seawall, passing round Stanbury Point. When you reach slipway at yachting area, use steps up wall to reach churchyard of West Thorney church. Follow tarmac path through churchyard towards Yacht Club premises. In front of Yacht Club, turn right on road for 30 yards, then left to regain path on seawall.

After a narrow section, continue ahead on easy path and pass through 'bushy' area. At end of bushes, when the southern tip of the island is in sight ahead, bear right with path and continue on bank to reach lookout point/hide ahead. Even at high tide, there is a little beach here and this makes a delightful spot for a picnic stop, with lovely views of Chichester Harbour and Hayling Island.

Continue on the path, which soon becomes a gravel track, along the south-west edge of the island. Where track forks, keep left on lesser path to stay in bushy area close to the water's edge. Emerge from bushy area to grassy patch with seats (another fine spot for a rest!) and then follow the grassy edge to Marker Point. Follow the path as it swings sharp right around the point with Hayling Island across the water on your left. Stay with this delightful path as it tracks around the edge of three bays, with scrubby pasture on the landward side, finally reaching a wooden kissing gate. Beyond the gate, you will soon come to another MOD gate - repeat the earlier procedure and you will be 'let out' - hopefully!

Carry on atop a high bank, with the Great Deep on your right, which makes Thorney Island an island, to reach the deckhouses again - pass in front of them to arrive at Emsworth Yacht Harbour. Go through the gate and turn right to follow the shingle car park area. Pass the end of two Marina basins and then turn left about 30 yards before reaching the outward path. Pass in front of more deckhouses, then to the left of the boatyard buildings. Go ahead (possibly passing under a giant mobile boat lift) to a gap in the boundary fence ahead.

Continue ahead to pass the Slipper Mill (originally a tide mill, now converted into apartments). Immediately beyond the Mill, turn left on a path which runs out on to a causeway, passing over a sluice which controls the level of the Slipper Mill Pond. Continue on the causeway path which soon turns right and follow it all the way out to the road, close to the Lord Raglan pub. This causeway is on the exact line of the county boundary between Hampshire and West Sussex - the purpose of your walk! To continue with the next section of the walk, turn right along the road to where you started this section, and then follow the directions for the next section.

Sussex Cottages

Beautiful Sussex holiday cottages and self-catering accommodation perfectly located for walking and cycling the trails of this unique county

Readers' Comments

  • Tue 9 Oct 2018, 08:27
  • Mon 8 Oct 2018, 19:42
    Rosemarie Fieldhouse

    Dear Sirs The congregation at St Nicholas Thorney Island are working on an HLF project to trace the history of the island and put the story on panels in the church. We are looking for a good map for one of the panels and I came across your one on this site. Is it possible for you to send me the image top use or did you have to buy it from a site? Your help would be most appreciated - thank you