Are dogs allowed onto West Wittering Beach?

WEST WITTERING Beach is the jewel in the West Sussex crown, stretching 2.6 miles around the coast.

The stunning seaside hotspot features sand dunes spreading up to 400 metres from the English Channel waters, making it perfect for families and the busy summertime – but can dogs visit too?

Are dogs allowed on West Wittering Beach?

West Wittering Beach is a dog-friendly coastal hub, allowing them onto its sands all year round – however there are restrictions which owners must be aware of.

From May to September every year, dogs are banned from the Blue Flag Beach zone at West Wittering.

Dogs are welcome onto West Wittering Beach 365 days of the year - but there are still restrictions (Flickr/Sue Cro)
Dogs are welcome onto West Wittering Beach 365 days of the year – but there are still restrictions (Flickr/Sue Cro)

This area runs from just before the public toilets and 2XS heading east to the furthest toilets in the west, and will be marked out by signs to inform you that your beloved pooch is not allowed to enter.

Yet, dogs are still permitted to entering the other parts of West Wittering Beach with East Head welcoming canines to the National Trust sand dunes and marshes.

Why are dogs banned on West Wittering Beach?

A part of West Wittering Beach was awarded as a Blue Flag Beach, denoting that it is a safe and clean seaside for its visitors.

However, this also means that they must keep up with certain requirements to retain the status.

The organisation behind Blue Flag warn those that own or operate an awarded beach that they “accept full responsibility to ensure continued compliance with all of these criteria.”

Among the list of criteria is section 23 labelled ‘Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled’, stating that pets – aside from assistance dogs – “are not allowed on a Blue Flag beach or in the Blue Flag area if it is part of a larger beach.”

It continues to say: “If the presence of pets is permitted by the local and national legislation, animals are only allowed in the parking areas, walkways and promenades in the inland beach area and must be under control.

“If the beach is patrolled by mounted police, measures must be taken to ensure that no faecal matter contaminates the beach.”

Animal faeces are a significant problem, particularly when a seaside hotspot is busy and there are plenty of children around, hence why bans are generally only in place during the summer.

They can cause toxocariasis – or zoonosis – which is a condition where parasites within the faeces can infect humans, with beaches among the most high risk areas.

Children are the most vulnerable to the disease with symptoms ranging from a high temperature or stomach ache to loss of vision.

If you do suspect you or your child has contracted toxocariasis, speak to your doctor or call 111.

Can I be fined for taking my dog onto West Wittering Beach?

With West Wittering Beach under strict rules banning dogs from the Blue Flag beach area from May to September, you could face consequences should you allow your beloved pooch to stray into the area.

Under the guidance of Chichester District Council, you could be in violation of the Public Spaces Protection Order, which carries a maximum penalty fine of up to £1,000 .

Should you break the rules, especially if your dog fouls on the land, you will initially receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100, reduced to £75 if paid within 14 days.

However, that figure could increase if the matter is taken to court – although those that have a dog registered either for the blind, hard of hearing or another disability are exempt.

West Wittering Beach is split into several parts with dogs banned from the Blue Flag area during the summer months (Flickr/Diamond Geezer)
West Wittering Beach is split into several parts with dogs banned from the Blue Flag area during the summer months (Flickr/Diamond Geezer)

Tips for taking your dog to West Wittering Beach

Although taking your dog to the seaside sounds like an amazing idea, there are several things you should be wary of for the safety of your canine.

The most obvious is to check that your dog is allowed to go onto West Wittering Beach before you set off, while taking clean water and a bowl is essential so they can have a drink, especially during hot weather.

A lead should be taken even if they are running around freely on the beach, with car parks particularly dangerous along with if you need to keep your dog under control.

Poo bags must be packed at all times or risk being caught for dog fouling, while a dry towel is useful to clean your pooch after they have been in the sand and sea.

In the event you lose your dog, ensure they are wearing their collar and ID tag, and if they have a GPS tracker, check that it is fully charged, operational and waterproof.

And if the worst does happen and they get hurt, you should have a first aid kit to hand to patch them up, while also knowing where the nearest vet is.

England has hundreds of dog-friendly beaches across the country ranging from Land’s End in the South West to Fishermans Haven Beach in the North East.