Langstone, Chichester Harbour (north), Hampshire
Tidal harbour that separates the mainland (Langstone) and Hayling Island. At low water the whole area becomes one big mud flat whereas at high you’ll discover blissful touring SUP conditions, with the right weather in the mix. Sometimes the downwinding can be good on an incoming tide coming from the Langstone Harbour side (west).
With light winds Chichester Harbour, across from Langstone to Hayling Island’s northern tip (Northney) and east towards Emsworth, can be a paddler’s dream. Glassy waters allow seabed gazing and there’s usually plenty of wildlife to observe. Sunrise and sunset paddles can be especially idyllic. The bridge across to Hayling can also be fun to float beneath, as long as you’re careful.
Shallow water, even at high tide, can sometimes be an issue as it never really gets that deep. Numerous wrecks dot the seabed and are worth keeping your distance from. Shellfish pots, and associated boat warps can cause tangles. As can mooring buoys with their tethered craft, which are abundant during summer months. Watch out for swans as well which can sometimes become territorial!
Put ins can be found both on the Langstone and Hayling sides although Langstone’s shore can offer easier access. If this is your choice, park next to the ever popular Ship Inn and launch from either the public slipway or next to the barrier. Be aware the car park gets very busy with customers of the Ship, other paddlers and people enjoying the general ambience. If it’s a particularly warm, sunny day you may not find a parking space at all. You could always try Langstone High Street (which isn’t as grandiose as its title suggests). This will lead you down towards the Royal Oak pub (another popular ale house) and an easy put in. Parking, however, can also be tricky here too. You can leave your vehicle in the main road layby and walk along the high street. Alternatively head across to Hayling, turn left along Northney Road, and drop your board in from here. You may also choose the car park within Northney Marina that leads to Northney slipway. This is the quietest launch spot although the marina can be gated and locked at certain times of the day.
As mentioned quayside locations of the Ship Inn and the Royal Oak offer spectacular views across the harbour for a post-SUP pint. Both have fully serviced restaurants that dish up typical pub fare. Being extremely popular means you may have to reserve a table during the busiest periods. Public toilets can also be found next to the Ship. On the Hayling side you’ll find a large petrol station that also has a small convenience store, Subway and Costa. Carry on towards Langston Quays Hotel, into the marina compound, and there’s the Salt Shack Café where you’ll be able to purchase coffee, cakes, savouries and soft drinks. Langstone Hotel itself does operate a bistro open to the public. But you’ll need to spruce up if you want to nosh here.
This part of Chichester Harbour can be extremely good for lazy paddling. With light winds and glassy waters meandering about atop a SUP ensures there’s plenty to see. Observing the crowds of Ship Inn/Royal Oak pub goers can be a nice way to people watch – just don’t fall off in front of the gallery! Next to the Royal Oak you’ll find the iconic old mill with a submerged wreck lying just beneath the water’s surface in front to scope out. A number of raised mud bank islands protrude from the depths that can have various forms of wildlife – seabirds for instance – roosting at times. The Hayling bridge can be worth a float beneath, but watch out for hitting its concrete pillars. If you keep going east you’ll eventually come to Emsworth where you’ll be able to stop for refreshments, whilst further along still is Thorney Island and round into Chichester Harbour proper (see description elsewhere). Some use this location to start their round Hayling circumnavigation, which can be 17 miles of bliss or pain, depending of how well timed it is with tides and/or weather forecasts. Head further east and you’ll eventually come to Emsworth where you can stop off right in the middle of town. be aware of tide though as Emsworth harbour becomes mostly mud as the water ebbs.