Living in such a land-locked county, over 100 miles from the sea in any direction, one question I see pop up quite often is “what is the nearest sandy beach to Aylesbury? I’ve seen various different replies pop up. Frinton-on-sea, Clacton, Southend and Walton-on-the-Naze have all been recommended. West Wittering came up time and time again though, so we decided to visit. I wasn’t necessarily going to write a review of West Wittering Beach. After-all it absolutely ISN’T in the four counties I cover, but I see people asking which beach is closest to Aylesbury so often I thought I’d share our experiences.
Parking at West Wittering beach
I’ve always felt that a day-trip to the beach seemed a little bit too far for us. Even though we go on a lot of days out, and will happily travel a long way, we’ve never done a beach day-trip before. The thing that made me choose West Wittering beach was the parking. It’s currently pre-payment ONLY. You cannot just turn up and pay. They’re also limiting the number of space available to half capacity. There’s no other car park in West Wittering and they are VERY hot on on-street parking which means that, other than people who can walk, this really does limit capacity. It also has the added advantage of ensuring you don’t drive all that way to find out that there’s no parking spaces!
I’d been keeping an eye out on the parking app to see the best day to go. It does seem to sell out about a week in advance for sunny weekends.
First up, the beach at West Witting is sandy. Personally I HATE pebble beaches. I genuinely don’t see the point of them, so this is a necessity for me. It’s a very long beach and it has lifeguards covering certain hours and weeks (basically peak times). The safe swimming area is relatively large. Well, it was when we visited. You can also get free lost child bracelets from the lifeguards – we actually had a couple of them come over and give us ours. Maybe me + 3 kids = flight risk? There are over 150 beach huts along the back of West Wittering beach. You can buy one (on the rare ocassion they come up) if you’ve got an spare £60k plus fees kicking around. Apparently you can also hire them by the day from the private owners.
On the day we visited it was windy. VERY windy. There’s a fair amount of sand above the high tide line so it’s very dry and it just gets everywhere. Those sand dunes came from somewhere after all. Both boys came home with really red eyes after the sheer quantities of sand blown into them in the afternoon. I don’t know if it that amount of wind is typical at West Wittering beach, but it did become unpleasant for the boys in the end. The wind did mean that the surf was fairly decent. Not Fistral beach good, but good enough for the boys to bodyboard.
We arrived at about 10am. High tide was at 1pm and there wasn’t really very far to walk from the high tide line (where we set up camp) to the sea. Low tide was at 6(ish) so our arrival was about mid-tide. I’d seen someone comment about what a long walk it is to the sea from the beach and I genuinely wondered what the hell they were on about. It’s right there!
This photo was taken at about 16:15. When then popped to get some food and walk up to East Head, then back along the beach…
This photo was taken at 17:45. WHERE THE HELL DID THE SEA GO?? I have never known a tide to go out that far that quickly. Important safety note – they have lots of sand banks. As you can see, when the tide starts moving, it REALLY starts moving. Please check tide times before visiting so that you don’t get caught out. Particularly if you’re still there once the lifeguards have left.
The sea water was soooo lovely and warm. Biggest Child said it was as warm as when someone wees in the pool! Charming, but he’s about right. It wasn’t a particularly sunny day, and it wasn’t particularly hot so I was surprised how warm the water was. I actually felt warmer in the sea than I did sitting on the beach in the howling wind.
How busy is West Wittering beach?
We visited mid-week during the summer holidays. As I mentioned above, the weather wasn’t awesome, but it also wasn’t bad. It was “decent.” Even at the new, reduced capacity they still had spaces available to book when we arrived at 10am. We were sat near the high tide mark, right between the swimming flags and quite close to the main beach entrance near the cafe. Despite all this, there was plenty of space all around us and I didn’t feel worried at all. I have heard a lot of people say how busy it does get here though.
I have heard horror stories about how bad traffic is down there. It’s a narrow road and there’s only one route in or out from West Wittering village to the beach. I know people who have got stuck for ages, but I can honestly say we didn’t have any traffic issues at all. It took us 2 hrs 15 minutes to get there, including one very quick potty break (Smallest Child, not me).
Ensure you save some time to walk up to East Head. It’s a small bit of National Trust land at the end of the car park. We walked along the grassland for a little while and then wandered down to the sand again. We could have explored a lot more but Smallest Child was getting really tired.
The beach over here feels completely different, and definitely calmer because it was virtually empty. As we walked along the beach back towards West Wittering we watched loads of wind surfers racing up and down the channel and people kite surfing off in the distance. It was the perfect end to a really lovely day.
Our West Wittering Beach Review
I feel that, when it comes to West Wittering beach it’s almost a review of two beaches. The one that we visited was beautiful, warm sea, lovely sand, plenty of space and easy to get to. Other people have visited and it’s been crazy busy. My recommendation, as with most things, is try to avoid peak days. If it’s really hot, and a Bank Holiday weekend, maybe give it a miss?
The amount of litter on the beach was quite sad though. Nothing even close to the quantities that I’ve seen in Dorset or South End, but there was a fair amount of rubbish kicking around and in the sand. I’m pleased to say there wasn’t anything gross though.
We had such a lovely day here that I absolutely want to go back. As long as I can still pre-book my parking and I choose my day carefully that is.
Parking / How to get there
Parking must be pre-booked via the Just Park app. Currently it’s £8 per day during the week and £9 per day at weekends. I know a lot of people moan about it, but you pay £9 per day at Wendover Woods and this is a beach! I genuinely didn’t mind paying that much.
Address – West Wittering Estate, West Wittering, Chichester, West Sussex. PO20 8AJ
There are several toilet blocks at various places behind the beach. They were relatively clean (particularly for beach loos)
Bring you own! OMG. I know they have a captive audience but I was shocked at the prices. £30 for (small) cod and chips, chicken burger and chips and jumbo (plain) sausage and chips. The portions were not big and the food really wasn’t that special. I won’t bother getting fish and chips on the beach again!
Sandy picnics are very welcome, just take your litter home with you.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook