When we woke up the other week and saw the weather was going to remain dry, we thought what better way to celebrate our seven-year wedding anniversary than to take a trip to the seaside. But where to? Living just outside London in the home counties means the south coast is never too far away. A couple of hours from our front door and we can explore Sussex, Dorset, and Bournemouth.
In the end we opted to take a trip to Littlehampton in West Sussex – just a mere 80 minutes drive, it was a town completely new to the us and Monkey was super excited about the prospect of seeing the sea.
Not only does Littlehampton have two award-winning beaches, but it also had a large seafront green with a play park, a harbour, a Sea Life Centre, a miniature railway, mini golf and a bustling promenade. Oh, and did I mention the amusement arcade, fun fair, and a ferry boat ride over to West Beach during the summer?
We easily found our way to the seafront and parked up in the main car park situated next to Mewbrook Park Boating Lake. Monkey was a little disappointed that the pedalos were not in use. But he was soon distracted by the sound of delighted screams from children in the nearby Harbour Park.
We managed to steer him away long enough to walk along the River Arun and watch the boats sail by into the marina, then headed towards the sea, passing the estuary and seeing fisherman patiently waiting for their catch.
As soon as we saw the sea, we all jumped down onto East Beach’s pebbles and ran straight towards it. Monkey challenged us to a stone throwing competition, but that was abandoned when he thought running away from the waves was much more fun.
I was famished, it was a while until dinner, but too late for lunch, there was nothing else for it but to get a portion of chips to stave our hunger. We also treated Monkey to an ice-cream, and we spent a pleasant 15 minutes just enjoying the view.
While sitting there, we noticed a little train on wheels chugging towards us. “Can we go on that please?’ asked Monkey. Even though it was quicker to walk towards Norfolk Gardens which has the mini-golf, pitch and putt and a pirate ship, we hopped on and laughed as Monkey waved at passers-by. However, we were little gutted to realise there is actually a miniature railway that runs from the Gardens to back to Mewsbrook Park. Which I think would have been much more fun! And more cost effective – it cost us £7 for a return ride when we could have walked it in 10 minutes! Maybe next time.
Monkey hadn’t forgotten about Harbour Park and was quick to remind us of our promise to take him there. As soon as we walked in and saw the bumper cars, he was off. There are several rides that are tailored for children, young and old, including a small log flume, slides, a rollercoaster, trampolines and amusement games. You can exchange cash for tokens at the various machines, but it does add up. Most of the rides cost four tokens which is the equivalent of £2. He loved it, though, and we spent some time watching him enjoy his thrills and spills.
After we managed to pry him away, we took a long walk along the river towards the harbour, stopping along the way to wave at more boats and checking out all the little shops, restaurants, bar and cafes along the way.
Once we reached the end at the Look and Sea Life Centre, which has an interactive exhibition of the history of Littlehampton’s ship building industry and the Visitors Centre, we took a quick peek into the neighbouring RNLI Station – and Monkey was most impressed with the gigantic lifeboat being washed down.
By this time, he was knackered and hungry. Having seen a promising looking restaurant back towards the promenade, we headed there hoping to get a table. As luck would have it, there was a spare one and we were seated quickly in quirky restaurant The Gravy Boat. We all enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal – hubby couldn’t resist the fish and chips, Monkey opted for pizza and I went for the carvery – lashings of gravy and three types of roasted meat. There really was something to cater for all tastes on the menu.
We were glad of the stroll back to the car to walk off our dinner, but it also meant we got to enjoy the scenery one last time before making our way home. And we definitely agreed we’d come back again – and perhaps take the boat over to the West to discover the sand dunes and other attractions.
Littlehampton may not be on the grand scale of some other seaside towns but for such a small part of West Sussex it certainly packs a punch. There’s so much to see and do, and for families it combines the perfect location of the coast as well as historical Arundel right round the corner, and the majestic South Downs.
Monkey told us that it was ‘his best holiday ever’. Wise words from someone so young – proving that you don’t have to go too far to have a brilliant, fun-filled day out.