It was all change at Cobnor Point, where a band of unusual twisted oaks formed a frilly fringe at the foot of the low grassy cliff. These looked half-aquatic and their contorted branches could have been the tentacles of a huge octopus. Each tree seemed to be stretching every sinew in an effort to reach the sea and dappled light turned their freshly emerged leaves into a hue of buttery yellow.
A strange row of well-worn double stakes ran out across the nearest sandbank. These stretched for well over a mile and were placed here back in the 1870s by a group of local farmers who hoped to build a dam across Thorney Channel in order that the land could then be reclaimed for agriculture. 150 men laboured to infill the 3,000 stakes with chalk and stone but, after just seven weeks, the structure breached in a storm. The remaining timbers march out to sea in the manner of a primitive giant millipede.
Two footbridges crossed the entrances to a new lagoon, where soft engineering had created saltmarsh as part of a long term coastal protection plan. Waders were busily poking around their new patch and a kestrel hovered over the scrubby woodland at the rear.
On the far side of the channel, the buildings at Bosham Quay glinted like an old-fashioned imperial mint and a number of slipways were reminders of the times when this part of Sussex was alive with sea-going trade.