Birchington-on-Sea To Ramsgate
On Wednesday 24th January 18, I decided to walk from Birchington-on-Sea to Ramsgate. I was joined by five members of the Wrong Roaders walking club, David Beech, Graeme Wall, Andrew Pagram, Barry Stewart, Brian Corlett and (Dogs) Beau, Harley, Rosie and Millie. Despite warnings of high winds and heavy rain the day turned out be mostly dry until we reached Broadstairs when a small shower forced us to put on our waterproofs. Luckily for us this was only a small shower and it took nothing away from this fine walk. Meeting at Birchington train station we soon set off for the foreshore which is only a short walk away. Birchington was first recorded in 1240 as Birchenton, a name derived from the old English words ‘bircen tun’, meaning a farm where Birch trees grow. This walk is dominated by chalk sea cliffs, promenades and sandy bays.
At the start we were sheltered from the high winds down below the sea cliffs, but as we meandered around the promenades and sandy coves we soon met the wind head on. This caused us a few issues with flying sand and at times it was reminiscent of a small sandstorm. It looked great flying around but occasional gusts meant a stinging face full. We soon arrived at Margate which has been made famous by Dreamlands amusement park and the new Turner Contemporary Gallery which are both very popular with tourists. For me though Margate is the hub for subcultures and although the fights between the Mods and Rockers in the early/mid 1960s to early 1970s shocked the nation, it has actually had a positive effect, since this area is still seen as a vibrant British cultural place that is still visited today by Skinheads, Mods, Rockers and now walkers. They pour in for festivals and gatherings keeping alive our own homegrown subcultures. Rarely do these groups now cause trouble and the Old Town’s cultural quarter is now vibrant and going places. With its boutique shops, art galleries, small bars, restaurants, micropubs and music venues, it has something for everyone. Troublemakers not welcome. http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/
In keeping with Margate’s artistic regeneration as you leave the Harbour Arm and just past the Turner Contemporary Gallery the life size sculpture of a man at Fulsam Rock can clearly be seen at low water. The sculpture by Antony Gormley, is the second sculpture to be exhibited by Gormley in Kent, the first being at Folkestone’s Harbour Arm and I have to say I love it. These sculptures seem to strike a chord with me and probably make more of an impact on me than any other art pieces. Like the one at Folkestone it’s the rusty tones made by the salt water and the way they stand there staring out to sea, waiting for the impending tide to cover them again. I can almost feel their suffering as the water engulfs them and then their rebirth as the water subsides. Maybe for me it reminds me of our own impending fate and for the hope of our own rebirth from the murky waters of time or perhaps it could simply be that from a distance they look like the robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still, either way I love them!
Soon we arrive at Botany Bay, which found its name when those found in possession of smuggled goods here, were deported to Botany Bay in Australia. At Botany Bay the impressive chalk sea stacks start, eroded by hydraulic action, which is the force of the seawater crashing against the rock. These structures start as sea caves, then become a sea arch and finally the top collapses to form the stacks we see today. At Kingsgate Bay just along the coast you will still see the fabulas Kingsgate Arch in situ.
At Kingsgate Bay high on the cliff tops is Kingsgate Castle featured on the front of this post. It was built for Lord Holland in the 1760s as the stable block of his nearby country residence at Holland House. All I can say he must have had money to burn.
Battered by the wind and sand Andy and Brian cover their faces through Kingsgate Bay.
Finally we arrive at Broadstairs and Viking Bay the jewel in Thanets crown. Home of Bleak House formally Fort House the summer residence of Charles Dickens and where he wrote David Copperfield. The house is top left in photo two and three.
Broadstairs is the quintessential seaside town and is brimming with nostalgic, old-world, seaside charm. The town has a wealth of inviting cafes, restaurants and bars – two 1950’s ice-cream parlours Morelli’s and Chiappini’s provide flavourful scoops of nostalgia too. In the High Street, historic red-brick and flint-fronted buildings are dotted between a rich stock of independent shops and galleries. Each June, Broadstairs’ week-long Dickens Festival overflows with costumed characters, talks, plays and beach outings. In mid-August, the funky Broadstairs Folk Week brings music sessions to pubs, gardens and beaches. Broadstairs Water Gala is a family-friendly fiesta of sandcastle-building, teddy bears picnicking and fireworks too. While in October, the three-day Broadstairs Food Festival is an irresistible celebration of locally-produced, fine food and drink, my favorite festival. https://www.broadstairsfoodfestival.org.uk/
At Dumpton the beach opens up and at this time of the year, especially as it is meant to be raining hard, the beach looks really nice. If walking the beach in this area and actually anywhere along the Thanet coastline with your dog, please keep a close eye on them at all times, Palm Oil is washing up in chunks and dogs are eating it, this can be fatal to them.
At East Cliff Ramsgate, you get to see the white chalk cliffs interrupted by a small pocket of Greensand stone. A rock feature more akin to West Kent and The Weald.
With Ramsgate Royal Harbour now firmly in sight, I wanted to give a mention to the Ramsgate War Tunnels, which are located at East Cliff on the foreshore. These tunnels are open to the public and well worth a visit. King George IV granted the port its Royal designation in 1821 in appreciation of the town’s hospitality when he embarked with the Royal Squadron from Ramsgate to Hanover. It is the only Royal port and is undergoing improvements, in the summer down by the marina it’s as good as anywhere on the Kent coast. http://www.ramsgatetunnels.org/