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Fine dining and a walk on the wild side

In the first of a two-part feature on Sussex gastro pubs, Clive Nicholls stops off at The Crab & Lobster at Sidlesham

With hardly a breath of wind the rain-laden clouds hang over Chichester Harbour. The rain starts, not heavy driven rain, but light and gentle, like that from a fine rose on a watering can.

Just then the rays from the sun force their way through the leaden skies and cast a rainbow across the harbour. It’s a fleeting moment, the rain stops and the sky brightens but it was a magical couple of minutes. Yes, I’m a bit wet, but that’s a small price to pay for being witness to a special scene. If I owned that little yellow yacht at the rainbow’s end I would be pumping the bilges looking for my pot of gold. I’m in West Sussex, on a short break staying at a couple of our country’s finest pubs. This month I’ll be covering my stay at The Crab & Lobster at Sidlesham and the coastal region around Chichester. Next month I’ll move inland a few miles to The Halfway Bridge near Petworth.

The 350-year-old Crab & Lobster sits on the banks of Pagham Harbour and the nature reserve that benefits from this unspoilt stretch of coastline. The nearby RSPB visitor centre is open between 10am and 4pm every day and there’s plenty of advice on what to see and when to see it.

The walks here are brilliant and generally easy and the birdlife varied. A more experienced birdwatcher pointed out a Spotted Redshank wading in the shallows and a Great White Egret, like a big white heron, on the wing.

Even I couldn’t miss the Kingfisher as it flashed along the bankside. It was brilliant to forget about the car for the afternoon and stroll back to the pub with an appetite and a thirst. The Crab & Lobster is all oak beams and log fires and I’ve left plenty of time for pre-dinner drinks while I study the menu.

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