A beautiful accessible retreat close to the city, sometimes described as the “green lung” of Chichester

Rambling and cycling

Chichester Ship Canal passes through 4 miles of open farmland from the Basin to Chichester Harbour at Birdham. The towpath is part of the Lipchis Way and cycling is permitted. The path connects with the Bill Way at Hunston and Salterns Way at Birdham, which are long-distance cycle routes to the sea. There are information boards along the canal and also historical remains of the original navigation, including Poyntz Bridge near the basin and the Selsey tramway abutment at Hunston.

There are several benches along the towpath to sit and appreciate the peace and quiet of the canal and to watch the wildlife.

One of the most beautiful views on the canal is from Hunston Bridge towards Chichester. This view of the canal against a backdrop of the Cathedral and the Downs was painted by JMW Turner in 1828.

You can get refreshments at each end of towpath from the Canal Centre at the Basin or the Boathouse at the Marina. Or take a break half way at the Blacksmiths Arms at Donnington or the Spotted Cow at Hunston.


The canal is home to a wide range of wildlife. As well as the more common waterfowl – moorhens, coots, mallards, swans – birds such as the heron, kingfisher, whitethroat, common sandpiper, spotted flycatcher and greater spotted woodpecker can be seen. There is also a family of foxes living in the field before the Selsey Tramway and a terrapin can often be seen sunning himself near there. An eagle eye is needed to spot the water vole, but they are there in reasonable numbers.