There’s nothing like a nature reserve walk to whet your appetite for a delicious meal at Billy’s on the Beach, and so we’re delighted that the Manhood Wildlife & Heritage Group has produced a brand new circular walk that starts and finishes here in Bracklesham Bay.
Founded in 1997 to celebrate local heritage and natural habitats, Manhood Wildlife & Heritage Group was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010. So who better to point you in the right direction than these local experts?
Explore the coast
Booklets featuring the walk can now be picked up here at Billy’s on the Beach, and there are a number of fascinating West Sussex sites and beautiful views along the route for you to explore.
Having enjoyed coffee and cake at Billy’s, of course, walkers heading inland will eventually pass Earnley Church, a grade II listed church with a nave that dates back to the 13th-century.
The stone wall which surrounds the Earnley Church always captures the eye, as it’s unusually boat-shaped. Its picturesque appearance means that professional and amateur artists are often to be seen setting up their easels to capture the scene.
A nature reserve with a difference
A little further on, you’ll reach Medmerry Local Nature Reserve, which was created in 2013 and is managed by the RSPB. At its entrance, you’ll find the RSPB car park alongside the site of the former RAF Earnley, which was a World War One landing ground.
Medmerry is free to enter and an excellent place for wildlife spotting. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can expect to find Brent geese, Lapwing, Avocet, Skylark and Wheatear hopping and weaving about the reserve. Look to the skies and you may even spot birds of prey riding the thermals.
During spring you’re likely to hear skylarks sing and see lapwings and redshanks display and avocets settle down to breed on the Stilt Pools.
Moving into summer, you may be lucky enough to see water voles paddling around in search of food, while dragonflies and butterflies flutter overhead and cattle and sheep graze the grassland.
It’s idyllic, and you may be surprised to find out that all is not actually quite as it seems…
That’s because Medmerry was originally created by the Environment Agency as a flood defence scheme and cost £28m. It is considered to be the largest managed coastal realignment (as such projects are catchily known) in Europe.
An earth shattering viewpoint
Leaving this oasis and heading back out on the walking trail, you’ll find a viewpoint that lends a whole different perspective on our tranquil area.
During World War Two, parts of the area between Bracklesham Bay and Selsey were considered to be isolated and unpopulated enough for RAF training.
In fact, a practice bombing range was established here and used throughout the war!
So, when you’re relaxing over a Surfers breakfast and coffee with just the sound of the waves crashing on the shore outside and the bustle of the café around you, imagine just how different it was back then…
Post walk refreshment
Back down on the seafront and hopefully with no bombers in sight, it’s just a case of finding your rhythm along the shingle beach and back to Billy’s.
Depending on the time of day of your visit, please do make sure to book as tables are always at a premium during ‘peak’ times and we’d hate for you to be disappointed.
We hope you enjoy visiting this beautiful corner of the world and just ask that you make sure to take anything you bring (bottles, wrappers, small children…) home with you to help us keep our beach and local area in the best condition.
Finally, make sure to share your photos of your visit with us on our social media channels, as we’d love to see them!