Top itineraries for A Winning Weekend in the Chichester District

Over the month of April, The Great Sussex Way, which manages tourism for the Chichester District, held a competition, ‘A Winning Weekend’, to discover your perfect weekend getaway. The competition was supported by this newspaper and local radio station, V2 Radio.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 7:00 am
Sussex downs north of Chichester

People right across the area were asked to share their winning weekend, including where they’d stay, what they’d do and what they’d eat – along with some fun additions like the all-important selfie-spot.

Today the Observer can announce the three main category winners.

The categories were: Going Green, which looked for innovative ways to make a weekend getaway more environmentally friendly; Business Collaboration, which asked local businesses to come up with ideas of how they can work together to improve the visitor experience and support the local economy; and Creative Connectivity looked at how people were getting from A to B, and entrants were asked to highlight unique and fun ways to get about the area.

The judges (clockwise from top left); Dr Jorge Gutic; Samantha Richardson; and Anke Moneste SUS-210519-152212001

The winners were decided by a panel of expert judges: Anke Monestel from Visit England; Samantha Richardson of the National Coastal Tourism Academy; and Dr Jorge Gutic from the University of Chichester Business School.

Each of the three winners will receive a hamper worth £75 from Petworth’s The Hungry Guest, along with a bespoke prize for each category.

Going Green: Showcasing the Sussex coast and the Downs

Anya Frampton from Mulberry Marine Experiences in Selsey took the top prize for her unique take on how to combine ecology with a fun day out, with sustainability at its heart, combining experience with nature.

Danielle Dunfield, CEO of The Great Sussex Way, with Anya Frampton of Mulberry Marine Experiences SUS-210519-152130001

The two-day adventure begins with a Mulberry Marine Ecology Activity Day, which is a fun and personal way to be introduced to our local marine life. Kicking off with an Ecology Walk to introduce you to the often-overlooked life on our shores, concentrating on the intertidal and subtidal ecosystems, this is part walk, talk and treasure hunt. After, you can enjoy a pre-ordered picnic lunch from Potter’s allowing you to sample some of Selsey famous seafood.

In the afternoon you will be taught and trained to safely explore the sea for yourself. Suitable for all levels of experience you’ll be taught to explore with confidence. All equipment is provided, and you get to keep the mask and snorkel set for future exploitation or simply as a memento.

For her second day, Anya, said, ‘having explored the blue, time to explore the green’ – with a South Downs Guided Mountain Bike Ride starting and finishing at the stunning and secluded village of Charlton in the heart of the Goodwood Estate.

The loop takes in the Goodwood racecourse, The Trundle and the ancient Kingley Vale nature reserve.

Dr John Mason at the South Downs Planetarium SUS-210519-152151001

Covering 15 to 20 miles, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the views and refreshment. Your guide will look after you all the way, and both eBikes and analogue bike hire is available to ensure all ages, levels and fitness levels can enjoy the day.

Dr Jorge Gutic, one of the judges from the University of Chichester, said: “You can feel Anya’s love for the sea pouring out of the proposal, the passion and effort to design the route really captured my imagination and she describes all the experiences so vividly, that I felt genuinely curious about trying the itinerary myself. I was also impressed by the fantastic level of detail and planning put into this itinerary.

“It showcases the best of the Sussex Coast and the South Downs National Park in one weekend.”

Prize: A weeknight stay at the stunning Ashling Park Estate with a tour of the winery & an afternoon exploring the South Downs by electric bike, courtesy of Southern eBike Rentals.

Explore ancient woodland at Kingley Vale (Credit: Jon Nicholson) SUS-210519-152140001

Business Collaboration: Weekend with the stars

The star of the show in the Business Collaboration category came from Dr John Mason from the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester.

This unique weekend away pays homage to the stars and our area’s unique connection with space, as the hometown of British astronaut Tim Peake and the late astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

This fantastic entry brings together many elements which can be adapted to any weekend, whether it’s family fun to a romantic getaway.

The stargazing theme was described as the ‘favourite itinerary’ by competition judge Anke Monestel from Visit England.

John’s winning weekend starts in Selsey where you can see ‘Far Things’, the home of BBC TV astronomer Patrick Moore – the building is marked with a blue plaque at 39 West Street.

Bishop Palace Gardens, Chichester.

For an expert look at the night sky, book a bespoke stargazing experience with local astronomer Dr Mason.

He will take you to a local stargazing hot spot, either climbing closer to the heavens atop the hills of the South Downs or to the reflective expanse of the sea.

You can tailor your stargazing experience according to your interests.

It may be a walk taking in and talking about the night sky or a guided tour of celestial objects with telescopes.

One of the standout features of this entry, judges said, was the list of places to eat, drink, and stay.

The area boasts some appropriately named drinking establishments for the theme, including: The Star, Petworth (pictured inset); the Star & Garter, East Dean; The Half Moon or The Seven Stars, Petersfield; The Moon, Storrington; The Star Inn, Steyning; and The Rising Sun, Upper Beeding.

The activity planned for day two is a must see for anyone visiting the area; a show at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester, which displays the glory of our night sky as you’ve never seen it before.

Danielle Dunfield, CEO of The Great Sussex Way, said: “John’s winning weekend is truly out of this world.

“Our area boasts the South Downs National Park, which has a dark skies initiative, making it one of the best places in the UK to see the sky in its true glory.

“Only matched by the view created in the Planetarium which is like being able to see straight into the heavens.

“For me, pulling in local pubs to create a themed collaborative weekend was inspired.”

Prize: 30 seconds advertisement slot on V2 Radio running for four weeks.Prize: 30 seconds advertisement slot on V2 Radio running for four weeks.

Creative Connectivity: Explore by bike

Local woman Ashley took the top prize for the Creative Connectivity itinerary with careful planning.

Her winning weekend makes the most of the area all by walking and by bicycle.

Based out of Plush Tents Glamping, which sits between Lavant and West Ashling, Ashley’s weekend exemplifies how all you need is a bicycle to get from A to B.

Day one is a tale of two halves. A morning walk through England’s oldest Yew trees at Kingley Vale – followed by lunch with a view at The Earl of March at Lavant.

This would be followed by a visit to Tinwood Vineyard, by bike of course, for an afternoon amongst the vines and tasting some of the finest English Sparkling Wine.

Sticking to her theme, day two would see a shorter walk with panoramic views on the Trundle, which look down over Chichester City and on to the coast, and deep into the downs as you circle the peak.

Another lunch with a view at the Fox Goes Free, and then on your bike and you’re off to the races, at Goodwood.

Judge Samantha Richardson said: “Ashley’s glamping itinerary had a great mix of some hidden gems and some key attractions, all easily accessible by bike.”

Danielle Dunfield, CEO of The Great Sussex Way said: “This winning weekend shows just how much there is to do in our area – and you can do it all on your own steam.

“The longest cycle ride, Ashley would need to do is 6.4 miles, importantly along the route are a collection of picturesque pubs to break up the journey.

“Now that sounds like a winner to me!”

Prize: An hour-long scenic aeroplane tour of the Sussex coast with bubbly for two, courtesy of V2 Radio.

Runners Up - Judges say

Nature Trek: came a close second on Business Collaboration, having developed a wonderful weekend that was all about the birds. They highlighted the best spots to enjoy our bird-wildlife from Pagham Harbour’s RSPB Nature Reserve, to the resident Peregrines of Chichester Cathedral. They even suggested a boat trip around Chichester Harbour where birds like Ospreys are abundant, and you may even glimpse a seal or two.

Stacy Wright: Going Green runner up, pulled together a fantastic weekend based out of Sussex Eco-Huts. A key highlight of this winning weekend was the careful selection of places to eat – all of which are known for offering locally sourced, fresh produce.

Molly O’Malley: A very strong entry for the Creative Connectivity, which included getting around by paddleboard. We loved this alternative to using a car, especially to enjoy gems of the area, like the picturesque pub, The Crown and Anchor in Dell Quay.

Notable Mentions

For foodies – Margaret Challen: Make sure you have some prawns, crab, cockles all freshly prepared at Potters, a local family run business on the seafront at Selsey

Best budget activity - Andrea Gadd: watch the views pass you by from the top deck of the bus through the South Downs.

Reliving history – Andrea Smith: Weald and Downland Museum – learning skills of old, and walk the Roman Walls of Chichester.

Top selfie spots

#ChiCity – Sitting on the bench next to the sculpture of John Keats in Eastgate, Chichester.

#SausageLegs (a popular hashtag for sunbathing shots on the beach) – By the sea was a popular choice with suggestions like Bracklesham Bay, The Witterings, but the most mentioned was Bosham Harbour.

#SpringSnap – For a seasonal pic, The Pleasure Gardens of Petworth Park with the spring flowers.

#MadeInSussex – the village green in Lavant - quintessentially English.

#EnglandsMountainGreen – top panoramics, the Trundle with 360 degree views over the city and towards the rolling hills to the north.

To find out more about The Great Sussex Way, visit: www.thegreatsussexway.org/

Petworth is a top selfie spot