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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Walk 78 Broadstairs to Sandwich (Kent)

Walk 78          Broadstairs to Sandwich (Kent)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End

Map: L/R 179
Distance: 10 miles or 15km. approx..
Difficulty:  Fairly easy
Terrain: footpaths and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Trains from Broadstairs to Sandwich – change at Ramsgate

Update - parts of this walk have improved recently with footpath instead of road walking.

Start at Broadstairs sea front. Along the cliff promenade is the ‘retro’ ice cream and coffee café called Morrelli’s. The fifties/sixties décor is unspoilt and has been recommended as a place to visit in the national press over recent years. Fort House (now named Bleak House) was visited by Dickens for his summer holidays and can be visited (update - not open for visiting in 2016). His desk and chair overlook the Goodwin Sands and it is where he wrote some scenes from his novels. Dickens also stayed in other buildings in the town and plaques mark these places e.g. The Albion Hotel. One wit has placed a notice on his house in York Street saying ‘Dickens did not live here’. A festival is held every summer to celebrate Dickens connection with the town.

Turn right out of Morreli’s and head south. You will notice a field and bandstand on your left. These are used for various events and form one of the venues for the large and very successful Broadstairs Folk Festival which is held every August. Over the cliff is the main beach, Viking Bay, so named because the Vikings are thought to have landed here.

Follow the cliff promenade to Louisa Bay. The large building behind here used to be the Louisa Bay Hotel which is now fitted out as apartments. There is a choice at this point – you can either walk on the lower promenade to Dumpton Gap or stay on the cliff top. The lower walk provides a good view of the cliffs with their unique formations. They are well worth a look especially for those interested in geology.

Dumpton Gap has a pleasant beach away from the more crowded areas of Broadstairs and Ramsgate. The walk from here is more interesting if continued on the cliff top rather than on the beach. About a half a mile along there is a unique house which appears to be modelled on a lighthouse. From here the path passes through a park where there was once a house which Queen Victoria stayed in when she was young. The house’s greenhouses have been preserved and can be seen hidden to the right as you walk through the park.

Exiting the park the promenade continues along the Eastcliff top into Ramsgate. The Granville, a former very fashionable hotel, designed by Pugin can be seen on the right. Look out for the many styles of architecture as you progress along Ramsgate seafront. Further along past the kiosk take the road that slopes down to the left on to the beach promenade. The walk takes you past the old outdoor swimming pool (still some marks on walls giving evidence of this) and near to the point where the old Ramsgate Sands train used to stop. On clear days you can look out to sea and make out the French coastline near Calais.

The hoardings past the end of the road and mini roundabout cover a re-development of the old Merry England site. This was an amusement park which had run for many years but burnt down in the 1990s. It has been bought for development as a hotel and apartments but progress has been very slow. Enterprising locals have used the hoardings to display large artworks done by local people and have called it The Ramsgate Wall.

The walk continues towards Ramsgate Harbour – look out for the old Victorian Pavilion which has until recently been used as a casino. The large needle structure on the edge of the harbour was presented by George 1V when he sailed into the town, bestowing Ramsgate as the only royal harbour in England. Near here is a plaque placed by Vera Lynn to celebrate the Dunkirk rescue; the town and its boat owners had a big part to play – visit the maritime museum for further details.

The attractive harbour, designed by Smeaton is the second biggest in England. It once included former prime minister Edward Heath’s boat ‘Morning Cloud’; he went to school in Ramsgate and lived in Broadstairs. Many other famous people are associated with the area, these include: Wilkie Collins, Frank Muir, Brenda Blethyn, Francis Frith, Elizabeth Fry, David Niven and Lily Langtry.

Continue along the road into the harbour alongside the large harbour wall. You will pass the old Smack Boys Home which was accommodation for the young boys who worked on the fishing boats (called smacks). The small sailors’ church is here as well and can be visited at times. A little further along go up the zig-zag steps which are known as Jacob’s Ladder. The cliff promenade continues with a good view of the old ferry terminal and the existing one which carries freight and cars to Ostend (update no longer operates) The passenger routes to France closed some time ago partly due to a tragedy in 1980 when 9 people fell to their deaths after a walkway collapsed. On your right is The Grange, a famous house designed and lived in by Pugin now owned by The Landmark Trust (who open it for a few weekends every year).

The walk continues along the West Cliff with a view to a large factory area which was, until recently, occupied by the American chemical giant Pfizer. Look out for the sculpture, Hand and Molecules’, donated by Pfizer, which is situated alongside the promenade.

The walk cuts inland and towards the village of Pegwell. Look out for the art-deco Pegwell Hotel with its distinctive tower overlooking Pegwell Bay. The walk goes across the cliff top where there is much evidence of erosion. Further round are the remains of the old hoverport which used to operate here.

The path winds round to an impressive replica of a Viking ship. This arrived here in 1949 from Denmark. It celebrates the landing of Hengist and Horsa 1500 years earlier. St Augustine is thought to have landed in Pegwell Bay before going to Canterbury and establishing Christianity in Britain. St Augustine’s Cross in Pegwell village marks this event.

The walk continues on the road before a path behind a petrol station passes alongside the marshes and a nature reserve. Then it’s back on the road again to complete the walk into the town of Sandwich. (Update - this is now improved with dedicated footpaths).
The four snaps show: Viking Bay, Broadstairs; Pegwell Bay Hotel; Pavilion and monument, Ramsgate Harbour; The Smack Boys Home, Ramsgate.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Walk 77 Berwick upon Tweed to the border with Scotland

Walk 77          Berwick upon Tweed to the border with Scotland

 (First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

 Map: L/R 75

Distance: 5 miles or 8 km (the return can be straight down the A1 and into Berwick on the main road if walking back).
Difficulty:  Fairly easy
Terrain: footpaths and pavement
Access: Parking at Berwick and on the A1 near the border.
Public transport: Buses run from Berwick to and fro and use the A1 where there are various bus stops.

Start in the centre of Berwick. If you get a chance it is well worth a visit to Berwick Town Hall where a guide (a halberdier when I visited) provides a very interesting tour of this building. A potted history of the town is brought to life and is reflected in the history of the town hall. Highly recommended – go to the tourist information office for tour times.

Information boards provide details of the paintings of Berwick by L S Lowry. Vantage points near the river give you a chance to admire the Grade 1 listed viaduct built in 1850. It was designed by Robert Stephenson, son of George and opened by Queen Victoria. The east coast rail line still crosses it.  

Take a walk towards the river and town wall – you may well pass The Kings Arms where Charles Dickens gave one of his famous readings. There are several remaining fortifications on the wall reflecting the fact that the town changed hands between Scotland and England several times. These are reputed to be the best surviving medieval walls in Europe. They are 1.5 miles long and approx.7 metres high and were completed by 1560 during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. The architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner loved Berwick describing it as one of the most exciting towns in the country.

Follow the wall then road towards the estuary. Look out for Fishers Fort designed for 6 cannons in the 1770s. The one on display is Russian and kept as a trophy after its capture at the siege of Sevastopol in 1855 during the Crimean War. There is a bulwark (defensive point) overlooking the river and an 18th century guard house called the Main Guard now cared for by English heritage.

The path passes alongside the river edge then climbs the cliff and passes near a caravan site. The coastal path goes along the cliff to the border. However, heavy rain was falling when I tried it and it was impassable so I had to go back to the A1, walk along the road then cut back in at Marshall Meadows. About half a mile north of this point is the border; the path goes inland for a short distance - Scotland and England are clearly marked alongside the railway line.   
Pictures show: the Main Guard; Fishers Fort; caravan site between Berwick and the border; the railway line and border marker.