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Walk 1561 - printer friendly version

Ramsgate to Margate, Isle of Thanet Walk

Author - Barry Mackie

Length - 7.8 miles / 12.7 km

Ascent - 600 feet / 182 metres

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference TR385647
Lat 51.331345 + Long 1.4223068
Postcode CT11 8LP (approx. location only)

With more miles of coastline than any other English county, Kent, "The Garden of England" offers plenty of choices for a walk by the seaside. The famous White Cliffs of Dover extend along the shores for many miles in both directions; there are numerous sandy beaches and some wonderful secluded bays. Some of which you can get to see and visit on this walk.

The French coast is only about 30 miles away from here, so this is as close as our island gets to the continent and geographically this is the gateway to Europe. Conversely, it's also Britain's first line of defence in times of conflict and locally there's much to see, especially at Ramsgate Harbour. Look out for latter day conflicts such as the evacuation of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. If you do the walk during the summer months there will be plenty of places along the route to get something to eat and drink, in winter less so, but there will always be somewhere open in the towns of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate.

In principle it should be easy to navigate, i.e. follow the coast with the sea on your right. However, do take the OS map with you and also both familiarise yourself with the tide times and get some local knowledge, because various beaches are inaccessible at and near high tides as are some of the promenades in bad weather. However, whatever the weather and tides, all of the walk can be completed along roads and paths at the top of the cliffs on a combination of the Viking Coastal Trail, which is a cycling route, or the Thanet Coastal Path (marked on the OS map)

The optimum time to start off for a walk along the beach will be a couple of hours after high tide, and then you will be able to take any combination of these routes, but whatever your path, do keep a sensible distance from the edge and foot of the cliffs. Be careful with the route alongside the shore, on some sections an incoming tide will cut you off from both dry land and escape routes up the cliffs.

The start is near the museum to the left/northern side of Ramsgate Royal Harbour (grid ref TR385647) and already one of those unusual facts that occasionally turn up; this is the only "Royal" harbour in Britain! Alongside the pier go down the access ramp to the typically sandy beach and immediately on your left are the white cliffs, with the promenade and sea defences abutting them.

If, like us, you time the walk with the tides in your favour, this is now a stroll along the beach to Broadstairs. The OS map is very detailed in the places you will pass, so there is no need to list them here, but after two or three headlands, the pier at Viking Bay, Broadstairs comes into view. There will probably be a couple of boats anchored up and although this is not actually a harbour, locally it is called "The Harbour".

If you now have an incoming or high tide, head up the path alongside the Tartar Frigate pub to the top of the cliffs and here get an outside look at Bleak House, a favourite summer home to the author, Charles Dickens. Apparently this is where he wrote the novel "Great Expectations"

Either from the route along the cliff tops or on the beach, you will be able to get to see and visit the various bays along the way. For us, the best views of Stone Bay, Joss Bay and Kingsgate Bay were from the cliff tops, but the isolated chalk stacks on Botany Bay are best seen from on the beach itself. If you are on the higher ground then it is only a short detour up the road to get a closer look at the North Foreland lighthouse. North Foreland itself is about as north easterly as Kent can be and here the route starts to veer to left and head west along what is effectively the start of the Thames Estuary

Occasionally you will see brightly coloured orange boats a half mile or so out to sea. These are the craft that ferry the ships' pilots who navigate the sometimes huge cargo ships vessels through these waters, which include the treacherous shifting Goodwin Sands some two or three miles off the shore. Out there is no place to make mistakes!

The walk ends by the pier at Margate Harbour (grid ref TR353712) with some nice views to be seen over the beach and the seafront and a welcoming cup of coffee from the stall nearby.

Transport - Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate have their own rail stations and are directly linked. If you decide to travel by car there is ample parking at all three locations

Alternative options - A shorter and much easier walk is to stop at Broadstairs, but doing this means you will not get to see some of the bays. In no particular order of preference, Botany, Joss and Kingsgate Bays really should not be missed!

Walk 1561 Route Map

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