The new Medmerry bird reserve & hidden river channels
This section of the South Coast Path changed dramatically in 2013 when the sea defence was deliberately breached. As a result the Birdham - Selsey coast path was extended by over 6km when the new Medmerry scheme was implemented.
The sea has been allowed to return to the land as part of the Environment Agency's revised coastal management policy. Medmerry is now managed by the RSPB.
The old sea bank was deliberately breached to allow the sea back to the land it once used to wash.
The stage is described below walking west to east (prevailing wind behind) - but can be walked in either direction.
Description of the walk
The walk starts Birdham, near the marina and a short walk from the Birdham Stores bus stop. It is another genuinely "flat stage" but quite long, especially now the diversion around Medmerry has been added. Originally this stage was 20.1 km.
From Birdham the route mostly hugs the southern edge of Chichester Harbour and beyond Itchenor the waters edge is always close by. This channel would have been well used by the Romans to reach Fishbourne Palace at the northern end of the channel from the open sea at West Wittering.
Once the sea has been reached and Hayling Island is just a few hundred metres away the direction changes and the path again follows the coast passing through West Wittering, East Wittering and Bracklesham.
Beyond Bracklesham the path continues to follow the shingle sea defence until the new rock armour is reached. In July 2014 there was no sign to inform you that it is no longer possible to reach Selsey this way, but you must turn left here when walking east.
There is a road and mostly a floodbank walk around Medmerry but there are points in the eastern section, especially if you want to visit the Ham viewpoint - where it is necessary to take some turns to find the route to Selsey sea front. See the above map for the route.
The path eventually comes out through the Bunn Leisure caravan park and via a couple of fields and some short road walking - the coast can be regained. After a little more navigation va the streets of Selsey the bus terminus on at the sea end of Hillfield Road is reached.
Places along the stage
|Stage terminus||Birdham||Rd junc nr marina|
|Passage point||West Wittering|
|Passage point||East Wittering|
|Stage terminus||Selsey||Hillfield Road|
|Lowest point||2||sea level [m amsl]|
|Highest point||12||[m amsl]|
|Date walked||Who||Walking time hr||Av. speed kmh||Stoppage hr||Direction|
|29 Feb 2012||KJM||4.2 hours||4.8||0.5||west to east|
|09 January 2013||KM&HM||tbc hours||tbc||tbc||west to east|
|30 July 2014||KM&HM||5.4 hours||4.9||1.3||east to west|
|17 Aug 2016||KM&HM||5.1 hours||5.0||1.1||east to west|
Points of Interest
Getting there & back
The Southern service along the South Coast is very good with regular trains between Southampton/Portsmouth and Brighton. get off at Chichester since it provides a convenient bus service to both ends of this wak. To get to Birdham or Selsey take the bus - the bus station across the road from Chichester Railway Station.
To get to "Birdham Nursery" bus stop catch the No: 52 or 53 [note: from the bus station the bus goes around the city centre and then returns and stops opposite the rail station!].
To reach Selsey go to Chichester bus station and catch the No: 51
Start: 29 February 2012
References & Links:
|20141010||Medmerry breach [time lapse videos]|
Updated KJM 18 Aug 2016