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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Saturday Second Walk - Swimming/coastal walk (another attempt!)

SWC Walk 51 Sandling to Folkestone
Length 11.1km (6.7 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10


SWC Walk 51 + 13b Folkestone figure of nine
Length: 21km (13 miles)

9.31 Folkestone-bound train from Victoria (9.56 Bromley South, 10.03 Orpington) to Sandling, arrive 11.11


10.08 Southeastern highspeed train from St Pancras to Ashford International, arriving 10.46, connecting to the above train to Sandling, depart 11.00. You need to pay about extra for this - about £3 with a Network Card - and tickets from LT boundary zones are not valid: your reward is a much quicker journey home, though: see end of post.

Buy a day return to Folkestone. At St Pancras use the Southeastern machines just before the high speed ticket barriers to get a super off-peak return (£20 with a Network Card).

Links to walk directions: walk 51, walk 13

I have been saving this coastal/swimming walk for the August bank holiday because in the event that the weather is fine, trains to Folkestone will be a lot less crowded than those to other coastal resorts (even more so since the line currently terminates there due to storm damage on the section to Dover, which is taking a year to fix).

The morning is a normal, pleasant country walk from a quiet rural station, with some downland and woodland and a castle (not open to the public). You then come down to the sea at Sandgate, where there are lots of lunch options.

After lunch you have a choice:

1) Spend the afternoon swimming from the very pleasant shingle beaches of Sandgate or Folkestone and/or exploring Folkestone. The town also has popular sandy beach - "Sunny Sands": to get to this follow the link to the afternoon extension, and the beach is just beyond the harbour.

2) Do a grand "Folkestone figure of nine walk" by doing walk 13b Folkestone Circular. To do this, stay on the seafront beyond the Mermaid Cafe (paragraph 49 in the Walk 51 directions). In about 1km you come to Folkestone harbour: follow the road around the edge of this until you cross a seafront square and pass under the arches of the former Folkestone harbour railway line: in another 100 metres or so you pass The Ship Inn on your left: then see paragraph 15 of the Walk 13 directions on page 4.

*** Three special notes about walk 13b:

a) In mid July work was being done on the esplanade past the harbour beach - "Sunny Sands" at Folkestone - blocking the route described in paragraph 16 of walk 13 on page 4 of the directions. To get round this, look out for a path up steps a little way beyond the Ship Inn (paragraph 15), which is signposted as the coast path. This takes you up onto a road, where you turn right. This brings you in a few hundred metres to the "gable-roofed building" mentioned in paragraph 17 on page 4, with the white Martello Tower visible beyond.

b) Folkestone to Dover has now been made the "main" option for this walk. To do walk 13b Folkestone Circular, switch to the special directions as explained in paragraph 19 of the main walk directions, on page 4.

c) There has been a change to the route up the cliff in the middle of this walk. The original path had become (or was in mid July this year) so overgrown as to be impassable - see paragaph 9 of the option a) and b) directions on page 8. Fortunately there is an alternative, which is indicated in the text. This is less dramatic, and also shortens the walk a bit, but it has an exciting finish and brings you directly up to the Clifftop Cafe, a gloriously-sited tea stop. You then continue the walk as before.

If you want to have dinner in Folkestone, the "posh" fish and chip shop on the harbour is recommended, and I have heard good things about the seafood restaurant opposite. In the main high street, slightly off the route described, is a good Oriental buffet (all you can eat: Google "Oriental Buffet Folkestone).

Trains back from Folkestone:

-  00 past (ie on the hour) to St Pancras - 54 minutes journey time, last train 23.00

- 13 past to Victoria - 1hr 54 mins journey time: last train 22.13


Poppy said...

I may go to this but I agree with you about the trains. Trying to get from St Pancras to Rye on the HST service last year on a hot Saturday, we found the company had only put on a train with four (maybe five?) carriages. The fare is high as we all know. Lots and lots of people were standing, and the train was packed. Folkestone is not Ashford/Rye, of course, but it is worth considering whether the potential hell of getting there is something you want to go through. I nearly wrote to the company afterwards but didn't quite get round to it. Short trains on hot days are a scandal given the fares we pay.

Walker said...

Sounds like a bad experience, Poppy, but your train to Ashford might have been one that went on to Margate or Broadstairs. The trains to Folkestone this year go only to Folkestone, since the line is suspended beyond there, so hopefully - hopefully - will be less crowded. But we will have to see. August Bank Holday is after all August Bank Holiday....

Just incidentally, the rail companies do not keep lots of extra stock lying idle just to be deployed on hot days in summer. What carriage sets they have are utilised to the maximum on a day to day basis: none are kept in reserve. So frustrating though it may be, they often don't have extra sets to add. High speed trains are in units of six carriages, if I remember correctly. Trains thus have 6 or 12 carriages.

Anonymous said...

Its worth writing a complaint if you are subjected to such poor travel conditions and also worth asking for compensation.

Anonymous said...

how come the comments don't always show up even if you press F5 ?
Can you please tell me how far it is from Sandgate station to the sea at Sandling ? half way through?

Walker said...

Four to five miles? It is in the walk document.

Walker said...

n=20 on this walk on a day of w=hot-sunshine (sorry, Third Walkers!). No problems on the trains and the partial shade in the morning of the walk was welcome. In two places - just at the start and climbing on the downland ridge - overgrown vegetation was a minor hassle. Hopefully 20 walkers tramping through it will effect some improvement, though not for the first time I reflect that maybe we need to form an SWC path clearing team...

I think at least half of us swam in the sea at some point, some twice. Most of us lunched at the King's Arms in Sandgate which has a lovely upstairs deck overlooking the sea and good seafood options. If anyone went on to do the Folkestone Circular walk I do not know. The bunch I was with got increasingly lazy as the afternoon wore on, exploring Folkestone Harbour, having tea, going out onto the amazing Harbour Arm (the former port area which now has bars and restaurants) and having a late afternoon swim and sunbathe.