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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.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Saturday walk - Birchington to Herne Bay or Whitstable

Length: 14km (8.7 miles) to Herne Bay with possible extensions to 18km (11.2 miles) to Swalecliffe, or 21km (13 miles) to Whitstable T=3.28
Toughness: 1 out of 10: almost entirely flat

9.40 train from Victoria (9.57 Bromley South), arriving Birchington-on-Sea at 11.17

You can also do this journey by high speed train, but it is only 8 minutes quicker and costs more: but if this is more convenient for you, get the 9.25 from St Pancras Southeastern platforms, arriving Birchington at 10.54.

Buy a day return to Birchington-on-Sea

This makes a lovely winter outing along the sea and entirely mud free apart from two minor places (based on my walking of it on 29 Jan). Wearing trainers is therefore OK. It has to be said that in the rain, particularly driven on strong west winds, this walk would be pretty wretched, however.

The walk first skirts around some bays with low chalk cliffs, and then crosses the wild marshes that in Saxon times were the Wantsum Channel, cutting off the Isle of Thanet. You are on firm seafront paths throughout this section, and you have the picturesque ruin of Reculver church straight ahead as your aiming point.

If the sun deigns to shine, the light on the marshes is beautiful. Offshore you can admire three windfarms - the nearby Kentish Flats (the first windfarm built in the Thames Estuary, which is directly offshore from Herne Bay); the huge London Array, which is far out to sea over your right shoulder (so long as visibility is reasonably good), and the Thanet farm directly behind you beyond Margate. Note also the black WW2 gun platforms visible out to sea beyond the Kentish Flats.

Walk directions are mostly unnecessary as you are following the seafront path, but they are useful just at the start of the walk, for a short section between Reculver and Herne Bay and to get to the station at the end. I have just (Weds 29th) updated these, so if you printed them off before that, take another look. The directions are below the lunch/tea and points of interest information on the walk's home page - the section entitled "From East to West". Print off the home page, not the pdf, as the pdf has not yet been updated. If you really need a GPX file click here, and for a map click here.

Lunch is at the very competitively priced King Ethelbert Inn, just beyond Reculver. Ditch ideas of gastro food when coming here: it is good honest pub grub (possibly appropriate for this significant day in our nation's history...).

After lunch, you arc up onto the grassy cliff top, with fine views. You can stay on the heights or descend to the seafront for the last section into Herne Bay: staying up is recommended, frankly.

In Herne Bay, the recommended tea spot is Makcari's - not the one on your left before the clock tower, but the much nicer one after the clock tower in the former bandstand. Just beyond this is the stump of Herne Bay pier: note its original ending, which is visible far out to sea: until the Second World War it was one of the longest piers in the country, designed to allow paddle steamers to moor at all states of the tide.

If you want to extend the walk you can carry on along the seafront for another 4km (2.5 miles) to Chestfield and Swalecliffe station, or 7km (4.3 miles) to Whitstable. See the walk's home page for refreshment options on this section. The map or GPX would be useful for getting you to the station at the end of these walks (Whitstable station being particularly awkward to find)

Trains back from Herne Bay are at 20 past the hour to Victoria, 44 past the hour to St Pancras.

Trains back from Chestfield & Swalecliffe are at 24 past the hour to Victoria

Trains back from Whitstable are at 27 past to Victoria and 49 past to St Pancras.


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Anonymous said...

n=13_with_w=full_sun_and_wind. At the station, there were 11, we met another at the lunch pub who took the High Speed train. Another took 12pm train, caught up with the group that ended the walk at Herne Bay. It was a glorious sunny day at the seaside with sweeping views to the distance. The walk had the benefit of NO MUD but would have been even better if it was done in reverse from Herne Bay to Birchington-on-Sea as the gusty wind was relentless. Lunch pub was full, we just managed to get a couple of tables. food was basic with reasonable prices. After lunch, two decided to walk back to Birchington with tailwind which proved to be a brilliant idea. The rest pressed on with headwind. Three stopped at Herne Bay and hardy ones continued on into the wind never to be seen again... Tea at Herne Bay and at seaside Cafe in Brichington respectively. The two groups met up on the train and enjoyed the journey back to London. A nice day out in good company.

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