Chichester provides a perfect location for city, country and coast, with plenty of beautiful attractions – both natural and man-made – to explore. Combining a bit of both, the Chichester Ship Canal is a popular attraction that can be enjoyed in many ways.
First opened in 1823, it was originally a part of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal, intended to provide a route through to London. However, by the time it was finished, Britain’s hostilities with France had ended and the English Channel was a safe, easier and cheaper option for boats destined for London. The section of the canal which is now the Chichester Ship Canal was the only part that had any measure of success; because it was built with a large capacity, it allowed large ships to reach Chichester itself, and carried trade until 1906 while the rest of the line fell into disuse from the 1840s. Thanks to a restoration effort by the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, the canal has now largely been restored, and offers a beautiful attraction to visitors.
Regular boat trips run from the Chichester Canal Basin – about a five minute drive from Crouchers Country Hotel – to Donnington, a two mile stretch of beautiful canalside. The trip is a leisurely 75 minutes, operating four times a day from spring to autumn, with a friendly crew to point out interesting sights and local wildlife along the way.
The canal is unfortunately not navigable past this point, as the road bridge here was replaced by a culvert, but the towpath continues further and is ideal for walkers and cyclists alike, providing peaceful scenery and a chance to spot some of the area’s local wildlife.
Along the canal you’ll see herons, kingfishers, swans and even water voles, if your eyes are sharp enough to spot them, alongside all the common waterfowl and creatures of the English countryside. For refreshments, you’ll find pubs close to the canal in both Donnington and Hunston, and refreshments and souvenirs are available from the Canal Centre, at the Canal Basin in Chichester.
If you’re looking for hotels in Chichester within easy reach of the canal, Crouchers is an excellent choice with access to the towpath just a five minute walk away. For further information, to check availability or to make a booking, call us on 01243 784995 or contact us online.