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Oh, how we all love to be beside the seaside. But is Arundel really a seaside destination? Read on, you might be surprised…

Arundel Sailors

Arundel may not have a beach of its own, but it’s close to some of the finest beaches in the UK. Which makes Arundel a perfect base for a seaside holiday. And the town has historic links to sea trade. For hundreds of years, Arundel was a busy port. Ships would sail up the River Arun from Littlehampton to dock in Arundel, where goods were unloaded to be transported to London and further afield by road.

The River Arun, which flows through town, is tidal Tide times and charts for Arundel, England and weather forecast for fishing in Arundel in 2022. So, if you drop your Pooh stick off the bridge in Arundel it will meet the English Channel at Littlehampton, which is just one of the many wonderful beaches to visit near Arundel.

You can walk along the flat, riverside path from Arundel to Littlehampton. Or travel by public transport or by car.

Read on to find out more about Littlehampton beach and other great beaches near Arundel, where you will find a 960-foot long pier, the remains of a Second World War Mulberry Harbour, ringed plovers, yellow horned poppies – and an amazing selection of fresh fish, seafood and ice creams. 

How far are beaches close to Arundel? And what can I see and do on beaches near Arundel?

You don’t need to travel far from Arundel to find fantastic beaches. Just three miles from Arundel, you can stroll along the rural, unspoilt sand dunes at Clymping. Littlehampton, with hours of family fun on offer is a short five-mile drive. Just nine miles from Arundel, you can enjoy typical British seaside fun in Bognor Regis, or paddle from the shingle beach at Felpham.

Stroll the pier and soak up seaside sights in Worthing, 10 miles from Arundel. Discover an abundance of wildlife in the nature reserve at Pagham Harbour, just 16 miles away.

From Selsey, which is 18 miles from Arundel, has views out across the English Channel to the Isle of Wight. West Wittering, a popular tourist spot 18 miles away, is a site of Special Scientific Interest.

So many beaches to visit and so much seaside fun to enjoy all around Arundel.

What can I do at beaches near Arundel?

The stretch of Sussex coastline near Arundel changes from one beach to another. So, whether your idea of seaside fun involves a bucket and spade, beachcombing for natural treasures, crabbing, shrimping, sandcastle building, watching the waves, or simply strolling your cares away – even on blustery days, you will find your perfect beach close to Arundel…

Worthing, a traditional Sussex seaside town

Ever wanted to walk on water? Head to Worthing and take a stroll along the 960-foot long pier. If you look through the gaps in the walkway you will see the English Channel’s waves swirling beneath your feet. Halfway along the pier is a traditional Amusement Arcade and fisherman try for their catch of the day from the pier end. Worthing has a fantastic selection of waterfront cafés and restaurants. The town it great fun whatever the weather, but avoid the pier in Gale Force 9 winds – that’s when it gets closed to the public. Probably for the best! Worthing, West Sussex

A waters sports playground for all ages in The Witterings

As West Wittering beach is very popular with holiday makers, families and day-trippers it’s best to get your car park spot early. This Blue Flag beach is patrolled by lifeguards in the summer, and you are even allowed a BBQ on the beach so you can cook while you enjoy spectacular views across the English Channel. What a spot to watch the sun set!

Both West Wittering, and the neighbouring East Wittering are popular Sussex water sports destinations. If you want to get out on the sea you can hire kayaks and paddleboards. East Wittering is often the quieter of the two beaches and once the tide goes out, perfect sandcastle building sand appears. So don’t forget your bucket and spade!

The Witterings is also a great place to fly a kite as even on the hottest of days, there is always a playful breeze. West Wittering, West Sussex

Is it Climping or Clymping?

Even the locals can’t agree, so you can choose your favourite. Clymping, West Sussex, half-way between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis off the A259 is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) backed by sand dunes and fields. On this quiet, rural beach you will find yellow horned poppies growing in the dunes along with various types of grasses all of which help stabilise the sandy ground. Wooden groynes stop the shingle and pebbles being washed away. As the tide goes out a huge area of sand is exposed.

In the 1960s and 1970s a couple of Dr Who episodes were filmed on Clymping beach. Do you remember Dr Who had a pet dog called K9? He would be most to visit again, as the beach is dog friendly. There’s a café next to the car park and lifeguards are present during the summer. Behind the beach, garden paths lead to the Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa where you can treat yourself to a delicious cream tea. Dogs are also welcome at the family-friendly Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa.

The Littlehampton Golf Club, the only Links golf course in West Sussex, borders the sand dunes at Clymping so you can play a round of golf and smell the sea air at the same time! What a combination and a great way to spend the day. 

Seal spotting at Selsey, West Sussex

With a great shingle beach and bright blue water, Selsey, West Sussex | Selsey Bill is ideal for a paddle, swim, or snorkel. Children can delight in the little crabs often to be found on the beach at Selsey. The village has a long tradition of fishing. You can still see its own fleet of fishing boats and Selsey is one of the last places along the south coast where you can see the fisherman bringing in their fresh catch.

The famous RNLI Selsey Lifeboat is ready to launch for emergencies and you can visit their shop at Selsey Lifeboat Station. Any profits go towards saving lives at sea. Selsey is also great habitat for many rare plant species, birds, and animal life. At low tide there is even a chance of spotting seals lazing around. Will you spot a seal when you visit Selsey?

Overlooking Selsey Bill

Sandcastles and shipwrecks in Littlehampton

Littlehampton, is a typical seaside town, near Arundel, with a pleasure harbour where the River Arun goes out to sea. From the small pier at the mouth of the River Arun you can see the lighthouse, and sit on a bench to admire views eastwards along Littlehampton Beach.

Littlehampton is a popular spot for crabbing in West Sussex. You can buy everything you need from the seafront shops. What will attract crabs to your net the fastest? Bacon. Yes, you read that right… crabs eat bacon! Especially smoked bacon.

Littlehampton beach, which stretches out for a mile, is ideal for a family day by the sea and perfect for sandcastle making, splashing about and paddling. 

Littlehampton promenade

There are several shipwrecks of the coast of Littlehampton and Arun Divers – Home offer organised dives so you can see them up close. This group of intrepid divers is also famous for a special task during the annual Charity Duck Race, which is part of the Arundel Festival of the Arts.

Not one of the little yellow ducks that enters the River Arun in Arundel is allowed to escape. You can read how the divers ‘rescue’ each and every duck here.

To the west of Littlehampton harbour entrance, at the end of Rope Walk, are the ruins of Littlehampton Fort – The first Palmerston Fort. It was built in 1854, to protect the entrance of the River Arun against possible attack by Napoleon’s French army. Canons were put in place to sweep the harbour mouth and keep the invaders at bay. The surviving upstanding structures and below-ground archaeological remains are listed as a Scheduled Monument, although the site is very overgrown with ivy that covers the walls. The area is fenced off but you can access a viewing place on a wooden walkway across the sand dunes behind Littlehampton’s West Beach.

Traditional British seaside fun in Bognor Regis and Felpham, near Arundel

You can cycle along Bognor promenade, stopping to sample seafood and sweets treats along the way. Bognor Regis is full of nostalgic charm, modern-day attractions, and family-friendly beaches.

The old pier was lost to the sea and although it is only a fraction of its former length, you can still go fishing off the end. After exploring Bognor, you can cycle or walk along the coast to Felpham where you will find the Beachcroft Hotel.

The Beachcroft Hotel is an ideal place to refuel with something to eat and drink and it is next to the perfect beach, where you can dip your toes in the water. Felpham village, which occupies the prime position on Felpham Seafront, offers lots of classic British seaside charm including deck chairs, buckets and spades, fish and chips, and ice cream. Bognor Regis | West Sussex seaside resort.

Pagham Harbour

Just west of Bognor Regis, Pagham Harbour’s shingle beach is the perfect place for swimming, yachting (with a yacht club located on the beach), and windsurfing.

Bird watchers flock to the harbour entrance at the far west end of the beach, where the mudflats and salt mashers attract little terns, ringed plovers, and oystercatchers. By the Church a footpath leads to the north wall of the harbour and about a mile from the beach you can see a Second World War Mulberry Harbour platform. After years buried, the tides have swept away sand and shingle, so the temporary portable harbour, developed to offload cargo during the war, is now visible.

It’s not cargo boat, or even boats at all that really turn heads in Pagham though. Many of the beachfront properties here have been adapted from old railway carriages brought to Pagham in the early 20th century. Each one different, and all quirky. As this part of the coast is supposed to be one of the sunniest places in the UK, they are also probably a lovely place to call home. Pagham, West Sussex

Did smugglers ever roam the West Sussex coast near Arundel?

Yes definitely! Almost every single port or coastal village close to Arundel was involved with widespread smuggling during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Arundel had its own Custom House but this was moved to Littlehampton in the early 1700’s, because at that time more illegal goods were passing through Littlehampton than Arundel.

Selsey was a notorious smugglers haunt – and everyone was at it! Even the rectors claimed a tithe (a tax) on all the kegs which were landed in Selsey and there was a tunnel from landing site to the church. Revenue officers were once lured away from the coast at Pagham with a decoy light further along the coast so 700 tubs of smuggled goods could be brought ashore at the harbour there.

So, to get you in the mood… When the moon is shining down and all is quiet and still, listen to the waves lapping on the shore and just imagine for a moment the line of silent ponies carrying the contraband along the dark paths up from the coast, lit only here and there by a sole lantern – can you hear their hooves?

Rudyard Kipling wrote –
If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

So even if the villagers in smuggling days didn’t know what was going on (and they probably did!) they kept quiet. And as smuggling was often carried out by violent, criminal gangs, it was a very good idea to, as Kipling advised, ‘watch the wall’.

Here are more words by poets who loved the West Sussex countryside and the coastline south of Arundel. Maybe William, Hillaire and Alfred even looked across from the South Downs above Arundel and were so moved by the view below they simply had to write these marvellous words…

Sussex by the Sea
Oh Sussex, Sussex by the Sea!
Good old Sussex by the Sea!
You may tell them all we stand or fall,
For Sussex by the Sea.
By William Ward-Higgs

The South Country
The great hills of the South Country
They stand along the sea;
And it’s there walking in the high woods
That I could wish to be,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Walking along with me.
By Hillaire Belloc

Green Sussex
You came and looked and loved the view
Long known and loved by me,
Green Sussex fading into blue
With one gray glimpse of sea.
By Lord Alfred Tennyson

Are you inspired to enjoy the beaches near Arundel? Which one will you visit first?

By Barb Hogan, Visit Arundel

Photos: Charlie Waring