Emsworth seafront in West Sussex is a tidal stretch of water that makes up part of Chichester Harbour. Directly opposite lies Hayling Island, Thorney Island (a military base) to the left and Portsmouth in the distance to the right. Journeying to any of these locations is perfectly fine as long as paddlers are aware of tides, weather and their effects.

One of the most popular put in spots is at the end of Beach Road to the west of the town. You have to drive through a residential area to access the launch – care should taken – and once there, parking is limited. However, the paddling options from here are extensive.

You could choose to circumnavigate Hayling Island, paddle south towards West Wittering or hang a left and head along the tidal estuary towards Itchenor, Dell Quay or Chichester Marina. If this isn’t to your taste then bank right and paddle off towards Portsmouth – it’s also possible to navigate the narrow tidal trench (that splits Portsmouth from the motorway) all the way to Port Solent and Portchester.

Staying local to Emsworth; there are a number of mud flats just offshore that you can paddle across to, but keep in mind that some of these dots of land are roosting havens for rare birds such as Little Terns.

You can idle away the hours in this location but take notice of water flows and timings as the area does dry out significantly on spring tides which could leave you with an unpleasant and muddy walk back to shore.

For those who like to combine their paddling sessions with a refreshment stop the Royal Oak and Ship Inn pubs are right on the water’s edge, next to the bridge that crosses to Hayling on the right. If you just paddle there and back it’s not particularly excessive but could still be worth it for a gentle meander. Should you stop for a bite to eat then you’ll need to watch the tides or else there may not be enough water to get back.

Heading east towards Dell Quay you’ll find another eating and drinking establishment right on the water’s edge. This is a bit of a longer route and is also subject to tides, but with the right information, it’s possible to get to your destination with a decent push before heading back with the outgoing flow.

Worth pointing out is not straying too close to army patrolled shorelines on Thorney Island – you may end up with a group of men carrying guns coming your way if you choose not to heed this advice.

How to get there:

Emsworth is just off the A27 main artery that runs along the south coast, UK. If you’re coming from London then you’ll possibly be driving along the A3; Emsworth is well sign posted on all routes.


There aren’t any onsite facilities in the Beach Road area but Emsworth itself has public toilets and car parking available. You’ll also find a variety of shops, pubs, restaurants and takeaways available.


Tides will be your biggest problem in Emsworth. Getting it wrong will leave you with a mucky trudge back to shore – you could end up getting stuck! Other vessels, windsurfers and dinghy sailors will need to be avoided and be aware of any approaching weather.

Ins and Outs:

Drive through the residential area of Beach Road and park your vehicle on the gravel at the end. There isn’t a designated car park as such and this spot can get quite busy, resulting in a bit of a hike with your boat. Once at the shore line it’s easy to drop your boat in and off you go.


Rodney Trotter’s (actor Nicholas Lyndhurst) place of birth; Emsworth is a former fishing town that sits at the northern end of Chichester Harbour. A haven for yachts and pleasure boats, Emsworth is also ripe for kayaking action.

The town’s maritime history is obvious, even though much of the boating industry upped sticks and moved on years ago. Everywhere you look there’s evidence of what once was and with two sailing clubs in Emsworth it’s understandable what attracts yachties year after year.

For paddlers, there are a number of different put in options that allow for jaunts in various directions. Most tend to drop their boats in around the Beach Road area.

Once you’ve had your paddling fill a pint or two to discuss the day’s events will be welcome and you’ll find numerous drinking holes in town. Emsworth also has a large choice of restaurants to keep food lovers happy, with a couple being recognised as high end. Don’t worry though, Emsworth caters for all budgets.


Emsworth, West Sussex


Tez Plavenieks