30 September 2018
Bosham – Bosham/Itchenor Ferry – Witterings – Chichester
Clarion cyclists: Wendy, Wendy, Angela, Angela, Sally, Jim, Graham, Nick, Prudence, Tessa & Wilma
Angela and Wendy’s promise of ‘country lanes interspersed with watery views and cycle paths’ in a route from Bosham to Chichester attracted eleven cyclists on the last day of September. The weather was dry with occasional sunny spells, but there was a slight autumnal chill in the air too.
Bosham church was our first destination when leaving Bosham station. Although the church has been around since Anglo-Saxon times and features in the Domesday Book and Bayeux Tapestry, I had been there recently and didn’t stay inside the church for too long. A service had just finished when we arrived and the pleasant smell of incense lingered in the air, as we investigated what is Clarion member Julian’s favourite Sussex church.
While the others continued to spend time taking in the historic significance of Bosham church, I waited outside and was advised by a stranger on the best bike shops in the area and the correct way to fix the loose bearings in my back wheel.
When the rest of the group emerged from their Sunday morning church experience, we all headed off to the highly anticipated ferry journey we had all been looking forward to. As we approached the Itchenor/Bosham ferry, Wendy’s back tyre developed a sudden puncture, which she decided to fix during the scheduled coffee break planed after we had completed the ferry crossing.
L-R Prudence, Sally, Jim, Wendy T, Wilma, Tessa, Graham, Wendy S, Angela C, Angela D
The narrow plank used to carry bikes onto a tiny ferry a few years ago, has been replaced with a more user-friendly system. Cyclists are now able to wheel their bikes onto the ferry with ease and I was surprised that the ferry was able to accommodate all eleven cyclists and their bikes. I don’t recall the tiny ferry from my last visit in 2010 being quite so spacious.
The ferry crossing to Itchenor was very brief (most of us would have liked the ferry ride in sunshine to have lasted a little longer). For the leisurely cyclists in the group, it was good to follow the crossing with a coffee break in the excellent Quarterdeck cafe. We managed to complete an entire loyalty card and must return for our free cup of coffee soon.
We all gathered outside the Quarterdeck cafe, with the shipyard backdrop, to watch Wendy and Graham’s masterclass in how to fix a bicycle puncture. The puncture was fixed very quickly and Wendy was pumping up her revitalised tyre just as we finished drinking our cups of coffee.
We then headed to the sandy beaches of West Wittering, which entailed the longest period of cycling of the day so far. On a warmer day, a pre-lunch dip in the sea would have been a great idea. Although I hadn’t packed my trunks, I was impressed that some members of the group were considering a late September swim in the sea.
It was a short ride from West Wittering to the lunch stop at The Old House, where their chips are still served in buckets. I thought chips in buckets were an unnecessary fad until relatively recently, when I realised that the metal of the bucket helps to keep the chips warm.
Wendy and Angela had no time to discuss the presentation of chips (or buckets) because they were busy fine-tuning the final leg of their cycle ride. There was a brief discussion about whether we should turn left or right as we left the pub. The decision was taken to turn right, which led us to the final part of the day’s ride.
The final part of the day’s ride took us along the Chichester canal, with plenty of moorhens and swans to keep us company. This was a great way to reach Chichester station and avoid the roads.
I was surprised how close to the station the canal route took us. The only negative aspect of the afternoon’s ride was that Wendy’s puncture problem reappeared and her back tyre had to be pumped up again.
Thanks to Angela and Wendy for expertly crafting a fascinating ride on completely flat terrain. We should certainly consider doing this one again in the future.
When Julian heard about our proposed visit to Bosham he was keen that we shouldn’t miss out on visiting the church, which is one of his favourite Sussex churches. Glad we did. Hopefully everyone got to see his notes from a talk he’d attended – I passed them round in the church. Julian had looked out all his Sussex church books to show me, as this is another of his many ’special interests’, so maybe the photo can go in the ride report. I think we have several people who like a good church stop on a Clarion ride, so if anyone wants any further info on a particular church, Julian’s the man!