The weekend prior to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we decided to take a ride out in to West Sussex to visit some historical sites and a few tea rooms. The roads planned are excellent motorcycle routes with barely any traffic until you hit the last part of the A272 and A32. Any way, we head out east at around 8.45am, mainly because the expected rain was not due until about 4.00pm. The route was going to take us along the M27 to Havant, the turn off on to the A27 through Emsworth on to Chichester. There we joined the Chichester bypass up to the Stockbridge roundabout turning right on to the A286 towards Bracklesham Bay, our first stop.
Billy’s on the Beach:
Ok, I said historical, in a roundabout way with the D-Day anniversary, Bracklesham Bay was an area on the South Coast that the troops trained and embarked for the liberation of France and the free world. Many a soldier, sailor and airman were associated with the area, especially with RAF Tangmere just up the road. Billy’s on the Beach had been on the local news that weekend, helping celebrate the D-Day anniversary by laying footprints of the soldiers going towards the beach, in memory of the soldiers that fought and those that died leaving England behind from Bracklesham Bay.
The other reason for us going there was to partake in a full English Breakfast before we rode north to Petworth. It was 9.30 and was a nice day so we sat outside and watched the world go by. We had a few admirers of the Roadmaster, which is always good, people love talking about it, especially if they have never seen one or even heard of the name. I digress, so we ordered a large and a small English breakfast and a pot of tea for two. The menu for breakfast and other meals were good and some of the food coming past us look very appetising.
Breakfast arrived, I had two of everything, but I forgot to order my favourite, Black Pudding, especially when its only an extra £1. The breakfast was tasty, and the Red Bush tea was good. Surprisingly, not many of the cafés we have visited to date have Red Bush, it may be an acquired taste, but its one of our favourites. If you want a day by the sea, there is paid parking, pebble beach (and sand when the water subsides) and Billy’s. Additionally, on site they also have a quick snack, drink and ice cream wagon on the edge of the car park with picknick benches.
Overall, a good stop off, will have to go back to try some of the other menu items next time we head towards the Wittering’s and Bracklesham its currently open 7 days a week from 9.00am thru to 9.00pm. Billy’s on the Beach, Bracklesham Lane, Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 8JH Tel: 01243 670373
From Billy’s we head back up the A286 toward Chichester on the A27 heading out towards Arundel Turning left on to the A285 towards Petworth. This road is fantastic for riding, barely any traffic and a smooth road with twists turns, hills and views. About 3 or four miles outside of Petworth there is a vantage point that looks out over the West susses countryside and it is lovely. Be warned there is some very nasty corners if you approach too fast, I am not talking sweeping corners I am talking 120 degree turns, there is also some choke points with small bridges and farmhouses close to the road. Farmhouses also means the occasional tractor!
As you approach Petworth, the village is surrounded by walls, when you ride and Indian and you have a Vanquish in front of you the sound of the walls is unbelievable as the throaty engine noise bounces of the walls and hits your ear drums… perfect……..
Another of the National Trust treasures. A beautiful house in beautiful park lands and lake (Capability Brown). The house is a 17th century country house formerly of the Percy Family, Charles Seymour and others over the years. It was handed to the nation in 1947 by Edward Wyndham 5th Baron Leconfield. The grounds and house are now managed by the National Trust. The grounds are massive, an ideal place for a family picnic under a shaded tree. If you have a dog, they are allowed to (on a lead). More details can be found on the National Trust Website. The food hall is in the old servant quarters and is big and provides the usual NT fair, you can even order a picnic basket to take outside in the grounds. Having had breakfast earlier, we stopped for a wander around the grounds and some coffee and cake only.
From Petworth we went back through the village and on to the A272, which has unfortunately got a bit of a reputation now as a racetrack for the weekend bikers. Which is a shame as the road and scenery is fantastic and deserves a cruise ride rather than a race. As a rider myself, it kind of spoils it, as locals are up in arms about the noise, (baffles removed). Its now getting to the point that noise pollution is becoming a big problem along this route and before long it will be “policed” using new technology. (See BBC Article “Acoustic Cameras”)
Anyway, we continued along the A272, briefly on to the A3 then back on the A272 then turn left past Loomies on the A32 towards Wickham.
There are several tearooms in Wickham, but we had not been to Chesapeake Mill for quite a while. The Mill has been around since the 18th Century an is associated with the US Navy and the Royal Navy. The mill woodwork came from the USS Chesapeake which was captured by the Royal Navy during a 12-minute fight in 1812. HMS Shannon disabled her, the Captain of Shannon then boarded her and took command, claiming her for the Royal Navy.
The Restaurant: Offbeat
The last time we visit, the restaurant sold a bit of everything. As we walked into the restaurant area the smell was a wonderful, the smell of spices and other ingredients cooking away in the small kitchen. So, there was I looking forward to a Bacon and Brie baguette and we find out that they are now a vegan and gluten free restaurant, that also serves fresh cakes and artisan tea and coffee.
Anyway, I didn’t really fancy anything on the main menu, but on looking at the cakes, my mouth was watering, so we had One Hot Chocolate made with Coconut milk, One regular Americano coffee and two pieces of raspberry and almond cake. Wow, it was wonderful. We will be going back to try the restaurant main menu, because it smelt beautiful.
We that was it, a round trip of 90 miles through the West Sussex and Hampshire countryside taking in three tea rooms. We were out from 8.45am getting back home at 4.00pm, the weather was really good, it started raining about 4.30pm, so we made around without getting wet.
Happy riding people, if there is a tea room out there that we can visit, let me know.