Chichester Harbour is one of the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in Southern England. Its wide expanses and intricate creeks are a major wildlife haven and among some of Britain's most popular boating waters.
The harbourside villages are; West Wittering, Itchenor, Birdham, Dell Quay, Fishbourne, Chidham, Prinsted, Thorney Island, Emsworth, Langstone and Northney.
This is one of the south coast's most popular sailing waters with many craft regularly using the harbour. Competitive racing taking place among the 14 sailing clubs of the Chichester Harbour Federation. The villages, sea walls and footpaths are a popular leisure area for residents and tourists alike.
Set up by Act of Parliament in 1971, Chichester Harbour Conservancy has the duty to conserve, maintain and improve the harbour and amenity area for recreation, natural conservation and natural beauty. As well as being the statutory harbour authority, the Conservancy manages the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Chichester Harbour Conservancy - www.conservancy.co.uk
The east side of the harbour entrance is an area of geographical, recreational and conservation interest known as East Head. It is a large sand dune linked to land by a narrow area known as The Hinge.
Chichester Harbour is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The harbour is of national and international importance for nature conservation. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a wetland of international importance, a Special Protection Area for wild birds and a Special Area of Conservation. The harbour is of particular importance for wintering wildfowl and waders of which five species reach numbers which are internationally important.
There are a number of habitats including a large area of saltmarsh habitat and mudflats which are exposed at low tide. These areas are particularly important for wintering birds. Chichester Harbour is a designated Bass Nursery Area.
Chichester Harbour is used for a wide variety of sailing, from dinghy racing to yacht marinas. It was the place where the renowned 'Itchenor Gallon' race was held. It is also used for fishing.
Harbour tours depart year round from Itchenor in either a traditional boat or in Solar Heritage - a solar powered boat. During the summer regular trips depart from Emsworth on Solar Heritage and on the Victorian oyster boat Terror.
The harbour is very popular area for bird watching, guided bird walks and boat trips are offered during the winter months by Chichester Harbour Conservancy.
There is a good network of footpaths for walkers and a cycle route from Chichester to West Wittering which passes through harbour countryside.
West Wittering Beach and East Head are the only sandy beaches on the West Sussex coast and are very popular family and tourist destinations on warm weekends.