If you’re looking for a day out in West Sussex combining the beach with town and country, you can’t go far wrong partnering historic Arundel with bucket and spade Bognor. In 8 hours, or less, you can easily fit in a country walk, a spot of shopping, lunch and some history as well as dipping your toes in the sea and savouring a fish and chip supper. Here’s what my #GLO50 Book Club friends and I got up to on our day out in West Sussex.
Mooch around the quaint lanes of Arundel: 1 hour
You can spot the historic castle and cathedral of Arundel long before you get there. Our first stops when we arrived in this hill-top town though were the charming streets and lanes that lead up to the castle. The shops are eclectic and quaint and we quickly lost ourselves browsing through the bits and bobs in antique markets, design and houseware stores, bakeries and even an outlet selling dog-themed everything, alongside lovely painted furniture and other pretty household items. Dinky Donkey Delights comes complete with a gorgeous, real-life resident whippet normally to be found tucked under the cash desk.
Stop for lunch: 1 hour
There are tons of great coffee shops and cafes in Arundel. We loved the Motte & Bailey on the High Street. The staff were really welcoming and went to great lengths to accommodate 9 of us during a busy lunchtime.
The food was fabulous, fresh and tasty too – from soup to brunch and more!
Circular walk around Arundel: 2 hours
Fed and watered you’ll be ready for a walk. We did a reasonably easy, 3.5 mile route, starting at the bottom of the town (in the Mill Road carpark by the local museum), rambling alongside the river Arun, with its raised bank that once served as a trading route in the 16th century.
This walk took us through Arundel Park and around its lake, up a gentle hill and past Hiorne’s Tower (said to be haunted by the ghost of a heart-broken young woman from 200 years ago who was jilted by her lover). We returned to the top of the town by the cathedral and Arundel castle, looking like something out of a fairytale.
Exploring Arundel castle: 2 hours
Arundel castle has been the ancient seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for more than 800 years. Ancestors have included the 3rd Duke, courtier and advisor to Kind Henry VIII (him of the six wives) who managed to narrowly avoid being executed because Henry died the night before the execution and the less fortunate 4th Duke who was beheaded for plotting to marry Mary Queen of Scots. Although the castle was besieged and damaged in the English Civil War, today it’s in good repair and an impressive sight atop the town. It’s open to the public from Easter until the end of October.
Drive from Arundel to Bognor Regis: 30 minutes
The route from Arundel to Bognor is not the prettiest in the county but you can forgive that once you hit the seafront at Bognor Regis with its shingly beach, fishing boats and cafes along the promenade.
Beachcombing in Bognor: 1 hour
Go on. Ease off your shoes and dip your toes in the sea (just make sure you do this near to the water’s edge as pebbles are torture to walk on in bare feet!). The beach at Bognor is lovely so long as you don’t mind shingle. I prefer it, as the water tends to be clear rather than the murky stuff you get on a sandy, British beach. As this resort claims to be the sunniest town in Britain, it’s likely the weather will be nice enough for paddling (at least in the summer!). There are old-fashioned groynes along the shore and fishermen’s boats that launch from this part of the coast. You’re looking at a scene unchanged in many respects for over a 100 years (minus Butlins which is set back from the front).
Fish and chip supper: 30 minutes
If you’re peckish by now, there are plenty of fish and chip shops in the town to choose from. We didn’t get a chance to sample their fare, but Ye Olde Fish and Chippe Shoppe comes very highly rated on TripAdvisor
If you want to stay…
It wasn’t an obvious choice of location for our annual Book Club weekend away. But Sea House in Bognor Regis persuaded us. It was a mini wedding cake confection of a building perched right on the shingly beach, with amazing sea views, a bright white interior and enough room to comfortably sleep 9 of us. There is room outside for BBQs and sunbathing too.