Things to see and do on a summer day in Emsworth
PUBLISHED: 10:50 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:56 15 August 2017
On or off the water, there are fun-packed summer days ahead in Emsworth, says Viv Micklefield. She takes a look at what can be squeezed into a day trip to the shores of Chichester Harbour, but feel free to stay for longer
Long before gaming consoles and mobile phones, childhood memories at the seaside often centred on hours spent crabbing and eating ice cream. So, it’s lovely to see that these traditions still continue on Emsworth’s promenade. In fact, drop a line and the whole family might get hooked. And whether or not the crustaceans bite, there’s always an opportunity to grab a cornet from Flintstones Tea Room on The Quay.
Take to the water
This summer’s highlight is guaranteed to be a boat trip around Emsworth Harbour. Powered using the sun’s rays, the eco-friendly Solar Heritage catamaran can carry up to 50 passengers as it glides across the waves, exploring the harbour’s outstanding natural beauty. As well as regular one-hour trips which cost £8.50 for adults and £3.50 for under 16s, there are special bird watching cruises, with timetables available at conservancy.co.uk. Or, there's a nod to Emsworth's past aboard the restored Victorian oyster catcher 'Terror' (oysterboatterror.org.uk). Built around 1890 the wooden hulled boat supported the once booming local oyster fleet. Find out what happened to the former Dean of Winchester and the great oyster scare of 1902 during a trip lasting just over two hours. Up to six passengers can set sail with advance bookings - £20 per adult, accompanied children 6-16 years £10, made by phoning Emsworth Yacht Harbour on 01423 377727 and asking for Oysterboat ‘Terror’ bookings.
A special quality of light by the sea often draws artists to coastal shores and Emsworth is no exception. There’s a chance to catch some of this local talent at the Emsworth Artists Summer Exhibition (emsworthartists.org.uk) between 10am and 6pm from Saturday until Wednesday August 26-30 2017, with a preview evening on August 25 2017 open to all at Emsworth Community Centre. As well as traditional media such as oils, acrylics and watercolours, expect to see sculptures, cards and art pottery adding a new dimension to a show, in which visitors also have the chance to vote for their favourite works. With the exhibition’s proceeds going to the Emsworth Community Association, organisers are hoping to top last year’s £1,000 plus donation.
The Emsworth Show (emsworthshow.org.uk) returns to the Recreation Ground, Horndean Road on August Bank Holiday Monday. Those in the know head down early to enjoy a fun-packed day with the showground’s arenas hosting falconry, ferrets, vintage cars and a dog show. Alongside, will be dozens of stalls and side-shows, music from local bands, and pop-up food and drink offerings. And if that’s whetted your appetite, then head for the Horticultural Marquee where super-sized carrots vie with luscious raspberries for prizes, together with floral displays, photography, arts, crafts and cakes. Organised by Emsworth Horticultural Society, 2017’s show runs from 10:30am-5pm. Admission is £5 with (accompanied) under 16yrs free. As there’s no parking onsite, a free park and ride service runs from Thorney Road.
Emsworth’s credentials as a foodie hotspot take some beating. From gastronomic tasting menus to all day breakfasts, a curry to good, old-fashioned fish and chips, the restaurants, cafes and pubs radiating from St Peter’s Square offer choices galore. For a shady sanctuary, the High Street’s Driftwood Café has a lovely courtyard garden for a traditional afternoon tea featuring local ingredients, with Champagne if you want to push the boat out. There’s more fresh fare at the regular Hampshire Farmers’ Market, held in the Square on the third Saturday of the month (10am-1pm on August 20 2017 is the next one). And this autumn, Emsworth once again celebrates Food Fortnight, with local food heritage taking centre stage at organised events around the town. As last year’s UK runner-up in this nationwide promotion, it’s well worth checking-out the 2017 programme at emsworth.org.uk.
Villa Pisani’s famous target maze in Italy has inspired a family attraction just 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Emsworth. Standing at almost two metres tall within Stansted Park’s Lower Walled Garden, the twists and turns of a kilometre of yew hedging offer lots of entertainment. Open between 11am and 4pm during August 2017 (weather permitting), entrance to the maze is £2 for adults and £1.50 for children which includes giant games of chess and Jenga as well as three holes of mini-golf. There’s also a narrow gauge sit-on train. And, afterwards, Stansted’s new farm shop (stanstedpark.co.uk) is well worth a visit to stock up on delicious local produce.
Best step forward
The start of the Wayfarer’s Walk actually begins adjacent to Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club, finishing 71 miles later in west Berkshire. So, it’s well worth grabbing a rucksack and a pair of walking boots to enjoy a meander along some of the ancient tracks once used by shepherds driving their sheep to fairs. After linking the coastal mud flats towards Hayling Island, where smugglers including the notorious Hawkhurst Gang would have once come ashore, this long-distance path crosses the chalk ridge of Portsdown. It then heads via the Meon Valley passing through the villages of Hinton Ampner and Dummer along the way, before climbing over Watership Down and Walbury Hill. Overlapping with stretches of both the Solent Way and the South Downs Way, the scenery is sure to hold a surprise or two.
Shaken and stirred
As the sun goes over the yardarm, things get shaken up at Woosters (woostersemsworth.com) in South Street. A Parisian style café by day and a cool restaurant by night, the first floor terrace is the ideal spot on which to enjoy a freshly made aperitif with a two-for-the-price-of-one on house cocktails from Tuesday until Friday, between noon and 7pm, and at weekends between noon and 5pm. The tempting tipples include English Garden’s heady blend of gin, elderflower cordial, rosemary syrup and Prosecco; and Long Island Iced Tea, a brew featuring vodka, rum, tequila, gin and triple sec with coke dash. Although it’s worth lingering because every Friday night in August, owner Sam Rolls has laid-on live music.