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Thorney Island - a remote coastal walk Walk

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A nature-lover's and birdwatcher's paradise, this remote coastal walk takes you around the perimeter of Thorney Island in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thorney Island, now joined to the mainland, is only accessible on foot along its coastal path. There are two start points for this walk, one from the Sussex Brewery pub and the other from Emsworth Town. 

The walk is flat and fairly easy going underfoot, with superb views. At the southernmost point there are outstanding views to Pilsey Island, an RSPB-managed nature reserve and a haven for many of the harbour's wading birds at high tide.

Those walking with dogs may find it useful to know that my dog managed the few stiles with ease.

The name Thorney Island means 'Island of Thorns', derived from the many hawthorn bushes found on the island. It is not an island anymore and has been joined to the mainland for over 125 years after the reclamation of tidal mudflats in 1870. An attempt to reclaim more land by building a causeway across Thorney Channel to Cobnor during the 1800s failed, but you can still see the remains of the stakes at the southernmost tip of the island.

The island area is a mixture of open grassland, scrub and reedbeds. This variety, along with the surrounding wetlands, makes the area one of the best sites for ornithology, with species including brent geese, oystercatchers, lapwings, curlews, skylarks and shelduck.

There is a church at West Thorney - St Nicholas - which you will walk past if the tide is high, but which can be seen from the coastal path. It was built in the 1100s and then it was much further inland. Since then the island has eroded away. I believe that the church and cemetery are now open to the public.

Thorney Island was first used by the RAF in 1935 and was a fighter station during the 2nd World War. You can still see the airfield as you look inland, but now the island is a base for the army.
Have a look at www.smppa.org.uk for a wealth of information about Slipper Mill Pond. It was man-made in the 1700s and has a fascinating history. It was purchased by 34 local residents in 1980 to preserve it as the wildlife haven it has become.

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Thorney Island - a remote coastal walk
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