Do you believe in ghosts? As we rounded Selsey Bill we were suddenly overcome with flies. It was as if we had suddenly found ourselves in the middle of one of the ten plagues of Egypt. Some of our party were overcome, covering their faces with their hands to keep the flies from invading their mouths, their throats, their nostrils – from the way they were behaving you would have thought the flies were trying to gouge through their eyes in search of their brains!
Where did all these flies suddenly come from? Perhaps it was all because of an eighteenth century gibbet, sited just round the corner from this particular spot. In 1747 the notorious Hawkhurst Gang, an organised band of smugglers, raided Poole Customs House to recover confiscated contraband. Not known for their social etiquette when it came to customs officials, the Gang tortured and killed two of them. Several of the Gang were later captured; seven of them were tried and executed at Chichester. Two of them came from Selsey, and their bodies were chained at the gibbet at Selsey Bill as a warning to others.
Perhaps the stench of the rotting bodies all those years ago had permeated the sand, the shingle and sea, turning the surf into a rotting stench of glutinous green slime in a ghastly memory of the corpses once displayed here. Perhaps the flies supernaturally arrived here some two hundred and fifty years ago to lament the cursed bodies left to rot in the gibbet, remaining here ever more to plague and terrify innocent coastal walkers such as ourselves.
As we rounded the bill we arrived at the coastal defences, built in 1953. There was nothing particularly special about these, except they looked a bit out of the ordinary. What these circular turrets were doing I have no idea, but they made for a more attractive structure compared to the usual interminable blank concrete.
We did not ponder these mini turrets for long, for out at sea we got a good close-up look at the Isle of Wight. Perhaps the term “close-up” should be qualified. It was actually 12-13 miles away. As we looked across The Solent the sun suddenly cleared. The sun’s beams radiated off the white cliffs at the appropriately named Whitecliff Bay. I wonder if we’ll take on the Isle of Wight during our Coastal Path? Our self-made rules do not require us to walk around any islands, but I’ve never been to the Isle of Wight before and I hear nothing but good things about it. One week, 12 miles a day, and job done. Something to think about maybe…
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Selsey Bill: N 50° 43.370 W 000° 47.130
- Selsey Bill Coastal Defences: N 50° 43.364 W 000° 47.385
- Cliffs at Whitecliff Bay: N 50° 40.050 W 001° 05.740
Walk #58 Statistics (of which this post forms the second part):
- Date of Walk: 18 August 2013
- Walk #58 total distance covered: 8.77 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 481.56 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!