SUP backyards: The Witterings, West Sussex area.

SUP backyards aims to gather to guide stand up paddlers around a specific geographical location where abundant pit ins exist within close proximity. For a good many wave seekers The Witterings area, on West Sussex’s Manhood Peninsula is a south coast saviour when surf’s needed. But there’s more here than just swell riding. And truth be told, if that’s your sole purpose for visiting then you may be sorely disappointed. The Witterings isn’t as wave rich or consistent as the South West. In summer, for instance, you’ll be waiting a while for that English Channel pulse. Unless you get extremely lucky. But as we all know SUP’s a diverse beast and The Witterings has plenty of paddling options regardless.

West Witterings looking east towards Bracklesham aerial view.

SUP at West Wittering.

West Wittering bucks the south coast trend somewhat by offering an expanse of sandy beach. During all tidal stages you find the golden stuff. Unlike other locations in the area, which are noted for being heavily shingled. At least on higher tides. It’ll come as no surprise that West Wittering, because of its sandy beach, attracts hordes of tourists on warm summer days. Parking is tricky when like this. As is find a spot to launch. And getting this right is important.

West Wittering sits at the mouth of Chichester Harbour. The tide flows fast round these parts. With current dragging perpendicular to the WW shoreline. Whether going in or out the tide influences this current left or right. You’ll feel it as soon as you begin paddling. So be on your game, know the tide times and don’t take on more than you can handle.

If SUP surfing’s your thing then West Wittering does serve up some decent rides on its day. Being a beach devoid of shore dump it’s a high tide choice for lots of stand up paddlers. Waves can break on various sand banks depending (again) on the stage of tide. If there is a wave then it’ll be busy. But the vibe’s usually friendly. There’s an onsite SUP and watersports school/club in the form of 2XS. These guys are BSUPA accredited and use the low tide lagoon (waist deep ish) for their first forays into the sport.

Chichester Harbour adventure paddling.

From West Wittering, on flatter days, there’s a wide choice of SUP adventure routes. Head into the harbour and round to the right for all manner of nooks and crannies to investigate. You could hit up Itchenor, Bosham or carry on going until you hit Chichester Marina. Alternatively head across to Hayling Island and keep going west. Or punt north towards Emsworth.

SUPing at the top of Chichester harbour.

We reiterate again about the tide. You need to be aware if paddling across Chii Harbour mouth or in the harbour itself. And know the weather. It can get windy and choppy in this neck of the woods. Mid-day sea breezes are prevalent during summer. And don’t forget marine traffic which can be heavy at times. Especially around the mouth of Chichester Harbour.

East Wittering and Bracklesham SUP.

Both east Wittering and Bracklesham are mid to low tide SUP surfing locations (generally). Unlike West Wittering surf here breaks in classic fashion. On lined up days, with a solid pulse, there can be super fun stand up paddling rides to be had. But there are lots of frothing surfers who need to be given room.

SUP surf days at Bracklesham.

On particularly busy days you’ll struggle to park in both spots. Even if you do manage to gain access it’d be worth keeping going left towards Earnley where it’ll be quieter in the water. There are a few groynes to watch out for and rips do occur. Without surf, however, it’s a lovely location to paddle recreationally or get some touring SUP in the bag. Experienced riders can keep heading east towards Selsey and round to Pagham. Strong currents and choppy seas can cause issues so be mindful.

For anyone learning how to SUP East Wittering or Bracklsahm can be good location choices during calmer, summer days. At low tide paddling here will give a relatively safe intro to open water SUP environments.

Chichester shipping canal.

Found in the heart of Chichester city is the Chichester shipping canal. This non-tidal stretch is an ancient boating waterway used to bring essential goods up from the coast a few miles away. Nowadays it’s an extremely sheltered paddling spot that has a SUP school and hire facility onsite. There’s a nominal launch fee but this gives paddlers access to super flat, sheltered water. Even if it’s blowing dogs off chains Chichester canal remains doable. As such it’s a popular spot for stand up paddlers who don’t fancy choppy, open tidal water.

It’s possible to paddle right down to Chichester harbour and the sea. There are a few portages to be made – one across a busy road. And in some areas, it’s quite overgrown so you’ll need to watch for not getting caught up on debris. This is a good paddle route to tick off that’s also histrical.

There are plenty of other paddling put ins close to The Witterings. Many are well trodden (or should that paddled?). If you’ve had your fill of The Witterings and Chichester then why not hit up some of those other locations in the vicinity?

For more ‘were to paddle’ inspiration check out the McConks bitesize SUP travel guides here.

And check out our previous SUP Backyards articles below.

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