East Head is a sand dune spit at the entrance to Chichester Harbour and right at the eastern end of West Wittering beach. I first visited by boat in my twenties when we’d cadge a lift on whatever floating vessel we could come by, bringing with us ball games and disposable barbecues. I borrowed a sailing boat once, forgot to put the bungs in before we set sail and only noticed when I saw it had sunk in the shallow water where we’d moored it. We got it afloat and made it home just, bailing out all the way.
Later I cycled here, via the small ferry that crosses from Bosham to Itchenor, and had similar mishaps with a puncture and a passing stranger who stopped to help us.
These days we come by car with dogs and a small child and just as my life has changed, East Head is always evolving too, a constantly shifting spit of sand anchored to the mainland by the briefest of hinges. If you look at historical charts you can see how the whole land mass has moved around the clock face over the years, from 3 o’clock in the 1700s to 6 o’clock where it is now.
These places that we return to time and again become markers in our lives, ways to measure the changes while all around us the sands are shifting.