Selsey has some of the most treacherous waters along the south coast. Get it wrong with the tide, weather or have limited paddling experience and you could end up in a spot of bother. That said, it’s actually a pretty good area for kayaking.
The town itself is rather sleepy and access to the water is pretty easy. Once out in the brine you can either head west towards Bracklesham and the Witterings or scoot around the headland towards Pagham.
If you head offshore you’ll come across a submerged deep water gulley – about 200 metres out. Years of storm battering has caused the coast to shrink a good few miles and now all you’re left with are the rocky ledges known as Mixon Hole. Thought to be part of an ancient river gorge this 20 metre high clay cliff provides homes for many marine species.
To the north west of Selsey Bill you’ll find The Hounds – a limestone reef covered by sponges, sea squirts and soft coral. (Divers might want to give this site a once over during a guided tour).
If you head out here then you’ll need your witts about you as currents can be savage and on days when swell pulses up the English Channel large waves can break on the shallower sections. The underwater crevices focus wave energy onto rocky plateaus and good riding can be had. You’ll need a high level of skill though and be aware that if it goes awry then you’re quite a way from land.
Bringing it back into calmer inshore waters and you’ll find plenty of rest spots in either direction. Pagham is worth exploring, although you’ll need to watch the current flowing in and out of the harbour, while Bracklesham, East and West Wittering all offer a few waves to play with on their day.
Selsey isn’t the best spot for beginners but those with experience will find enough interesting paddling options to keep entertained.
How to get there:
Selsey is well sign posted from the main A27 south coast route. Follow direction and you can’t miss it.
Public toilets are available right next to the beach while further back into town are shops and places to grab refreshments. A number of good pubs and restaurants are dotted around the Manhood Peninsula while Chichester is just eight miles away.
Tides, strong currents, large waves at times and inclement weather can all cause issues for those not aware. Paddlers without necessary skills should also avoid Selsey.
Ins and Outs:
Park up and put in right out front. If you need to come ashore then you can do so all along this part of the coast. Selsey is an open water and heavily tidal location that can be extremely dangerous with lack of knowledge. For the best of it head here during calmer weather.
This area of Britain has extensive paddling opportunities. If you don’t fancy the coast then check out Chichester Canal which offers mellow kayaking on non-tidal waters.
Selsey Bill is an iconic headland well known among mariners. Jutting out into the English Channel on the south coast of England its notorious tidal flows and strange currents make this an ever changing part of the world with a continually re-shaping shoreline.
Currently Selsey is being monitored carefully as winter storms over the past few years have badly eroded chunks of this area. Work to halt the encroaching sea have been ongoing but concerns are still high.
There’s a lot of wildlife in the area and exploring via kayak is one of the best ways to view. On a calm sunny day this area of West Sussex can be sublime for going afloat.