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Michael Balls Heaven On Earth - West Wittering

~ The Telegraph - 14/05/2010 ~


'It's the perfect place to get in touch with normality'

The beach at West Wittering has dunes and pebbles and is popular with surfers and swimmers

'Outside the peak season it's so quiet and peaceful. The dogs can go mad on the beach'

I've loved West Wittering since going there first as a child and then when I was at drama school, when a gang of us used to pile down there in a car for the weekend.

One of the things I like about it is that it's so easy to get to from London – you bang down the A3 and you're there in 90 minutes – yet it's worlds away from the bright lights of the capital. You're close to the South Downs, and you're also near Chichester, which is such a lovely city. The beach at West Wittering has dunes and pebbles and is popular with surfers and swimmers. Do I swim in the sea? You bet; whenever possible, though admittedly not in January. Another attraction for me is that outside the peak season it's so quiet and peaceful. The dogs can go mad on the beach – and a visit just puts my brain into gear somehow. It's the perfect place to get in touch with normality.

We have our own place there now but if you need a hotel, I'd happily recommend West Stoke House (01243 575226; www.weststokehouse.co.uk ), on the edge of the Downs, which has a superb restaurant, too.

That said, you can't go to the English seaside and not have fish and chips. I highly recommend The Boathouse (01243 673386) in East Wittering, where both are excellent.

What to do? Take a stroll along the beach, listen to the waves crashing onto the beach, breathe in the clean sea air… and just get in touch with nature. Then perhaps head for Chichester. Anywhere around the cathedral is beautiful. And a bit farther along the coast you've got Arundel Castle and Petworth House.

My wife, Cath, used to go to West Wittering for her childhood holidays too, so when we were looking for a place outside town, where else could it be but this little bit of heaven on the coast?

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