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PUBLISHED: 15:55 14 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:38 20 February 2013

Arun Canal - PIcture by Kate Eastman

Arun Canal - PIcture by Kate Eastman

There's nothing quite like a bracing Boxing Day walk to burn off the festive excess and no matter where in the county you call home, there will be a beautiful spot to enjoy a stroll nearby. Sky TV's Charlotte Hawkins reveals hers - and...

BOXING DAY must surely have been designed as the perfect antidote to the excesses of Christmas: it is the day to embrace the great outdoors by pulling on as many layers as possible and going on a long family walk.

The ingredients for a good one should include as an invigorating location as possible, as many family members you can muster, and of course, the new Christmas scarf and jumper to keep out the cold.

There are so many walks to choose from where my family live in Chichester, but my favourite by far is our regular Boxing Day outing to the beach at West Wittering. You don't go there for seclusion, though; it is nice and sociable with lots of families soaking up the sea air and sauntering through the sand dunes. Now we have our rescue dog Bailey she absolutely loves it there - it is doggy heaven.


There is something so restorative about the sea air, and there is something so English about going to the beach in the middle of winter.
For me it brings back memories of heading to the Witterings as soon as the first glimpses of summer came. I spent many days there trying to keep up with my brother windsurfing. On one occasion I was delighted to be making great progress without falling off, not noticing I was rapidly heading out towards the Isle of Wight. Unable to turn back, I had to suffer the indignity of being towed back to shore by my brother, who needless to say hasn't let me forget it since.


A few years later I took part in ITV Meridian's yearly sandcastle competition at West Wittering. I was honoured to be asked to judge the competition, at which every year Fred Dinenage urges the assembled crowds to build their best. I hadn't quite appreciated the enormity of the task - there were several hundred carefully crafted sandcastles, and I soon realised if I didn't look at each one I was in big trouble.

A few miles south of Chichester is the village of Sidlesham, which has a special place in my heart. It has always felt like home; it is where I grew up and lived for ten years while my father was vicar. It is such a lovely picturesque place, and is all you imagine a country village to be, with its thatched cottages and winding country lanes. Nothing beats being part of a village community like that - with barn dances, fireworks parties, Girl Guides, singing in the choir, acting in the village pantomime. Boxing Day, back then, was spent walking down Church Farm Lane, complete with duck pond. I distinctly remember one winter it snowed so heavily it was waist high.

Other well-trod walks of ours from Chichester are at Pagham Harbour, Kingley Vale, Eartham Woods, and along the River Lavant. I still love going to Oaklands Park - I was a member of the youth theatre so I always think of my time there as I go past the theatre. One of my proudest moments was getting a part in the show Victory where I was given a line to say on stage. I'm not sure my Dorset accent was that convincing however, so perhaps it is just as well I moved into the world of news.

This year I'm presenting Sunrise on Sky News until 10am - but wouldn't miss the Boxing Day walk for the world. So if you are at West Wittering and you see a bonkers black terrier tearing around, I'm probably not too far behind.

HOLLY WILLOUGHBY, TV presenter
Holly Willoughby grew up in a village at the foot of the South Downs, and her favourite walk is a local beauty spot just north of Brighton.

"Most of my Sunday roasts as a child were always followed by a long walk. We would go up to Devil's Dyke to fly kites or watch the hang-gliders. Even to this day, when I go home to stay with my parents for a weekend, if there's been a frost overnight and a morning mist hanging over the fields, there's nothing that makes you feel more alive than a crisp early morning walk."

."To me, Sussex is my family; it's my schooldays and it's my home, so it will always be a very special place to me." HOLLY WILLOUGHBY, TV presenter

It is a part of the world that she loves coming back to visit."To me, Sussex is my family; it's my schooldays and it's my home, so it will always be a very special place to me. I try to get down as often as I can as I love being close to the sea. Brighton has got such a patchwork of cultures and trends, there is nowhere else like it in Britain."

The run-up to Christmas is Holly's favourite time of the year.
" I love decorating the house like a grotto, and have been known to sneak a tree up at the end of November before now. Cooking Christmas dinner is my piece de resistance - even my husband said he only married me for my gravy!"


Holly presents the ITV shows Xtra Factor and Dancing on Ice and is expecting her first child with husband Dan Baldwin.

KATE MOSSE, author of bestsellers Labyrinth and Sepulchre
It is the family walks in Fishbourne, where Kate grew up, that she credits with giving her such a love of the countryside. She moved back to live in Chichester ten years ago, and says there is something reassuringly timeless about this corner of Sussex.

"My favourite walk on Boxing Day is without doubt the Fishbourne Marshes. Down to the duckpond, along the path through the rushes, over the wooden bridges where my sisters and I used to play Pooh Sticks - then out on to the expanse, the air, the sky of the estuary itself."
She explains what it is about Chichester that drew her back to live there:
"It was a wonderful place to raise a family - theatre, art galleries, museums, the Downs, the water. I travel a lot, but I still have the sense of being home whenever I pass the road sign that says West Sussex."


Kate has three foreign trips to meet publishers planned for the New Year. She will then focus on running the Chichester Writing Festival in March, before beginning work on her new World War Two novel set in France.


JODIE KIDD, supermodel and TV presenter
Although the catwalk is her usual stamping ground, Jodie Kidd is just as at home putting on her boots and going for a walk in the Sussex countryside.


She has always been an outdoors person, and plays polo to a high level as well as golf to a handicap of 18. She says she was never happier than when riding her ponies as a young girl at the family home in Sussex, and she loves this part of the world


"I was born and bred in Sussex, and to me it is the epitomy of beautiful English countryside."

Jodie lives in a 16th century Grade II listed cottage in West Sussex, and it is a walk along an historic waterway on her doorstep that she says is one of the best.
"My favourite walk for Boxing Day is along the Wey and Arun canal - it's such a beautiful part of Sussex and starts very close to my house."

After appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, Jodie has more television work planned for the New Year. She will also be collaborating on more designs with the clothing label Oli...



READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN DECEMBER'S EDITION OF SUSSEX LIFE


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