Here’s a blog post I never imagined writing. Last week (5th June 2020) we left our postcode for the first time in 12 weeks and enjoyed a day out at West Wittering Beach in West Sussex. This mini excursion was a success for a number of reasons – the Blue Flag beach is stunning, the toddler didn’t mind the road trip but, most importantly of all during this pandemic, we were able to practise safe social distancing.
I went back and forth on whether I should write this post – the obvious fear being that the more people know about certain UK beauty spots the more difficult it becomes to practise social distancing, but West Wittering Beach is a little bit different.
As a private beach with restricted access, the management team are able to control the number of people who visit. A limited number of parking spaces are available each day and you won’t be allowed access to the beach area unless you have pre-booked one of them.
(This approach is something I hope more beaches and parks try to enforce as lockdown eases, as not only does it make it safer for everyone to enjoy a day out but it means you won’t have to make a wasted journey if you arrive somewhere and find it’s too crowded to visit safely. We only decided to do a day out at this point because we knew West Wittering Beach had a system in place to prevent over-crowding and it turned out to be less busy than our local parks, which are becoming ever harder to practise social distancing with a toddler in.)
We also chose to visit West Wittering Beach as I read it was blooming gorgeous. (And credit to Mrs O Around The World who originally put the idea in my head.)
Found near Chichester on the South East Coast of England, West Wittering Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the UK, and is just under 2 hours drive away from London. (It’s under 90 minutes from us which is why it was possible to day trip.)
We arrived to find the car park at West Wittering is in fact 20 acres of mown grass fields that line the beach and look out over farmland. There was more than enough room for cars to spread out across it and, during our visit on a blustery day, many families had set up picnic spots behind their cars. (No one wants sand in their sandwiches!)
We followed suit and set up a small camp with our beach tent. Miles got a lot of amusement from trying to escape it.
In-between the dunes and the parking fields are a number of amenities. The Beach Cafe is currently operating as a takeaway outlet with a 1 in 1 out system. They offer sandwiches, hot and cold drinks and some cakes and snacks, including warm sausage rolls that went down a treat. There’s also a fish, chip and burger van, which was only serving bacon sandwiches when I rocked up, but by the size of the (socially distanced) queue I saw later I can only assume had the fryers going in the afternoon.
The toilet facilities are also open, and they were clean and well-maintained (with appropriate 2 metre markings) during our visit.
Click here for a map of West Wittering beach
Down on the sand, I couldn’t believe how powder soft it was. I genuinely didn’t know we had such lush sand dunes, certainly not within 90 minutes of where I live, and had to shake away old mental images I had of the English seaside being all shingles, arcades and sticks of rock that rot your teeth.
There are rows of pastel-coloured beach huts that I imagine are expensive real estate and, despite the gales coming off the ocean, there were a few people paddling in the water and lifeguards on duty.
(I assume this beach must always be fairly windy as there is a windsurfing and kitesurfing club that usually operates in peak season.)
The beach is officially 6.5 miles long and as the tide goes out quite far there’s even more surface area for a stroll along the water’s edge. We didn’t have a problem finding places to relax away from everyone else but, then again, we did visit on a weekday that wasn’t particularly warm so maybe everyone else was just put off?
When it’s safe to do more than a day trip, I’d definitely like to plan a toddler-friendly staycation in the Witterings. The pretty village of West Wittering had a couple of inviting looking cafes, not to mention The Lamb Inn, which is known for its hearty pub grub.
Nearby Chichester is a heritage-rich city with Roman walls and a Norman cathedral, and I have it on good authority from a local that Bosham, a beautiful coastal village that features in the Bayeaux Tapestry, is worth a visit too.
Hopefully one day I’ll be able to write a guide to visiting West Wittering Beach that doesn’t focus on how easy it is to wash your hands and keep your distance but, for now, I hope you enjoyed these pictures of the most exciting thing we did in months.
It was fun to show Miles the British seaside for the first time, and the sea air and change of scenery really is good for the soul, even If our wind-burned cheeks took a few days to recover.
How to visit West Wittering Beach
You can pre-book parking via the Just Park website. Enter West Wittering Beach and search for available dates. It costs £8 for the day and you can arrive at any time and re-enter multiple times.
I absolutely recommend you bring a wind break and/or beach tent like these ones on Amazon (affiliate links). If you’re travelling with a little one, you can check out more of my recommended baby travel gear here.
To check the government’s latest advice with regards to day trips and social distancing click here.
You may also like: