What better way to start your trip than by the seaside? We suggest a breakfast/morning coffee pit stop at one of the fantastic independent, dog friendly cafes which are dotted around the harbour and along the coast.
The Quarterdeck Café, Itchenor Shipyard, Chichester, PO20 7AE
Chichester Harbour, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boasts 64 miles of footpaths for you to enjoy which take you through quiet countryside and along picturesque shorelines. You’ll need to keep dogs on a lead so they don’t disturb the local wildlife - over 55,000 waders and waterfowl visit the Harbour each year, making this the most important single site on the south coast of England. On the Eastern shoreline sits the very pretty sailing village of Itchenor. Famed for its yachting facilities, there is a world-renowned sailing club at Itchenor, as well as the dog and family friendly Quarterdeck Café where you can all be refreshed and revived. Itchenor is also home of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy which runs Chichester Harbour as a nature reserve. Discover more about the history, flora and fauna of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a trip on their solar-powered catamaran Solar Heritage. A trip on the tiny Itchenor Ferry is another interesting way to see the harbour albeit for only a few minutes on the journey to the southern part of the Bosham peninsula.
From here it’s a 15-minute drive into Chichester City Centre. Take the B2179/A286 and once in the city, you will find plenty of parking in either Avenue De Chartres Multi Storey Car Park PO19 8EH/ Cattlemarket Car Park PO19 1JW/Northgate Car Park PO19 6AA.
Chichester City Centre
Your city explorations must include the iconic Cathedral, which permits well-behaved dogs on short leads in the Cathedral grounds, the Cloisters and the Café Garden. Guide, Therapy and Assistance Dogs are welcome in all areas. See if you can spot the famous Chichester Peregrines who call the cathedral home.
From here, a stroll around the historic city walls is a must-do. The walls are the most intact circuit of Roman town defences in Southern England and give you an idea of how Roman Chichester could have looked. There’s a helpful leaflet which you can download to accompany you HERE. Next, visit the medieval Market Cross in the centre of the city – another piece of the city’s heritage - where the main shopping streets meet; North, South, East and West Street. These streets lead you into the Georgian city itself – be sure to explore away from the main streets where you will find the ‘pallants’ and ‘twittens’ – small alleys between buildings. It is here that some of the city’s most interesting shops and cafes can be found. On route see some of Chichester’s finest street art - treasured locally - including ‘The Watch Dog’, the newest addition by Belgian artist Joachim.
Shopping in the city centre is a mixture of big-name favourites nestled against colourful independent stores. Be sure to visit Draper's Yard- a unique and quirky village of ‘sheds’ housing everything from art and textiles to coffee, hairdressing and jewellery (but get there quick as it closes at 4pm)
With all this wandering, you’ll no doubt be looking for refreshment. Many of the city’s pubs welcome dogs; try The George & Dragon (North Street), The Park Tavern (Priory Road) or The Bell Inn (Broyle Road). Cafes which welcome your furry friends include Boston Tea Party (Baffins Lane).
Heading further afield:
We’re leaving the city, following the A286 for around 15 minutes to take in the wonder of West Dean Gardens, where dogs are welcome when kept on a short lead. This is one of the greatest gardens open to the public in England. Creatively inspired by its rich heritage and South Downs setting, the gardens include a Walled Kitchen Garden and 13 working Victorian glasshouses, extensive and richly planted grounds including a stunning 300 foot Edwardian Pergola, and the fifty acre St Roche’s arboretum accessed by the beautiful 2 mile parkland walk.
Following the A286 for just a few more minutes, the same welcome is extended at Weald & Downland Living Museum, a fascinating collection of rescued rural buildings set in a beautiful 40-acre site within the South Downs National Park. Discover the stories of the people who lived and worked in them over a 1,000-year period from Anglo-Saxon to Edwardian times. Homes and historic gardens, farm animals and farming heritage, crafts and trade workshops, beautiful woodland, pasture and wildflower meadows. Dogs on short leads are permitted in most areas including parts of the café - leads can be borrowed or bought at the gift shop.
Making your way to Midhurst
Continuing in this direction, on the A286 for approximately another ten minutes from West Dean and Weald & Downland, will bring you to the quaint town of Midhurst. Voted one of the best places to live last year, Midhurst should be on your day-trip bucket list. Beautiful architecture, historical significance, notable former residents and a host of independent shops and cafes, there's plenty here to while away a day. Lots of parking on North Street, GU29 9DW. Dogs are made very welcome in Fitzcane’s Café, also on North Street, where dogs can expect free treats! Behind the car park is the causeway leading to the Cowdray Ruins, the Ruins of a Tudor Manor House almost totally destroyed by fire in 1793. You can walk the causeway to get a closer look at the house which has a history dating back to the early 1500's. It was in its heyday during the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, both of whom visited and stayed at the house, with Henry VIII being a frequent visitor.
Alternatively, from here you can choose to explore Petworth – home to more antique shops than any town in the South of England! Re-join the A286 for around 6 miles before turning right after the village of Cocking onto Bex Lane and follow as it becomes Mill Lane for 2.5 miles, passing through the village of Graffham where you turn left, then right after the Camping & Caravanning Club, passing Lavington Common (National Trust). After 1.4 miles, turn left onto the A285 which in just over 2 miles brings you to Petworth, where you will find ample parking in the main town car park GU28 0AP. Wander the tiny lanes, and indulge yourself in one of the town’s dog friendly establishments: The Star, The Three Moles, The Angel Inn or Coco Café & Sugar Lounge.
If you all need to let off steam, the magnificent Petworth Park has over 700 acres of parkland for your and your dog to discover. The Park permits supervised dogs off the lead within the Deer Park (be vigilant for roaming Deer), but you will need to put them on short leads to explore the Pleasure Gardens (leads can be borrowed from reception, where you can also pick up dog waste bags, if needed).
With so much to do in Chichester, Petworth, Midhurst… why not stay?
Dogs are welcomed in many of the area’s B&Bs, hotels and holiday lets. Here are just a few examples:
Image credit: Coastal JJ taken at the beautiful Medmerry Nature Reserve (PO20 7NE) - another beautiful place to explore with our without dogs!