Paddleboarding on chichester canal

What's not to love about paddleboarding on Chichester Canal

Paddleboarding on chichester canal

Chichester Canal is a gem of a place for anyone looking to start their paddleboarding journey or to simply enjoy a family day out.

Paddleboarding on Chichester Canal is a truly gentle affair with bath smooth water and often wind-free as it is surrounded by trees and bushes.

Surfs SUP Watersports head coach, Ian Phillips, has been paddling here for nearly 13 years, and in that time has enjoyed the waters for exercise and training as well as running clinics, tours and standup paddle boarding lessons.

Ian said “I love teaching sup and paddleboarding lessons on Chichester Canal. It’s a great place to enjoy and slow things down a little.   You can really work on learning those new skills and building confidence, before venturing out into the harbour or sea with us.”

Canal history

A small but important remnant of the old inland route from London to Portsmouth is being restored as a leisure waterway linking historic Chichester to the sea.

What is known today as the Chichester Canal is in fact part of the former Portsmouth & Arundel Canal. This was opened in 1823 and consisted of a 12-mile canal from Ford on the River Arun to Salterns and a shorter cut from Langstone Harbour to Portsmouth Harbour, connected together by a 13-mile dredged ‘bargeway’ through the natural harbours and channels between them.

Intended as a key link in a through route to London via the River Arun Navigation, Wey & Arun Junction Canal, River Wey and River Thames, it was not a success. By the time it was built, there was no real need for an inland route as larger and better ships, coupled with an end to hostilities with France, meant that the coastal route was an easier and cheaper option.

One of the few regular through cargoes carried was gold bullion from Portsmouth to the Bank of England, with armed guards on the barges.

 

The Ship Canal

A 1.5 mile branch led from Hunston on the main line of the canal to a basin in Chichester. This and the short connecting length of the main line from Salterns to Hunston were built to a larger gauge and equipped with iron swingbridges to enable coastal ships of over 100 tons to reach Chichester. This was the only part of the canal that enjoyed even a modest success, bringing in building materials and coal, and taking away manure. It carried trade until 1906, while the rest of the canal had been unused since the 1840s and fallen derelict soon after.

Transferred to the City Council in 1892 (who in turn sold it to West Sussex County Council in 1957), the surviving four miles were abandoned in 1928. The entrance lock and a short length at Salterns were retained as yacht moorings prior to the building of Chichester Marina alongside; the lock is still capable of operation and a number of houseboats are moored on this length. The remainder of the route to Chichester was leased to the local angling club and gradually silted up over the following half-century. Two main road bridges were replaced by unnavigable culverts.

 

Be safe on the canal

The canal is a fun location, but as with anywhere with water, there are risks.

Keep off the banks and out of the verges as they’re full of wildlife and nests.

There’s a family of swans so advice there is stay clear. Don’t paddle to them or try to interact with them. Give them space.

Canal boats use the canal, and you need to give way to it.   Your best way is to paddle to the side and kneel down, using the paddle to hold your position. The boat will slow as it passes you. Do not try to stand as it goes past you.

 

Costs for paddle boarding on the chichester canal

To paddle on the canal you need to buy either a day or years licence per person.

Currently the day price is £6.00 and a year licence is £30.00

Your money goes towards the maintenance and running of the canal.

To buy your ticket, go to the canal basin and into the cafe, where they can sort it out for, and get some tea and cake whilst you’re there.

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