About Ramsgate beaches, Kent
Kent is edged by some appealing sand and shingle beaches and is a coastline dotted by resorts and villages that time seems to have forgotten. The most easterly part of the coast is a chunk of land called the Isle of Thanet. Once a separate island, it became joined to the mainland when the Wantsum Channel was silted up around 2,000 years ago. The isle’s resorts include the vivacious town of Ramsgate, with its handsome promenade and Blue Flag beach.
Handsome Ramsgate has a lovely sandy Blue Flag beach, backed by a promenade. Close by sit Ramsgate’s harbour and marina, where there are plenty of facilities and services, including lifeguards, deckchairs and a cafe. Nearby Pegwell Bay has a restaurant and a cafe, and is backed by sea cliffs. It is also a good birdwatching area and is part of a National Nature Reserve. It’s overlooked by the Hugin, a replica Viking ship, which sailed from Denmark to the UK in 1949 to celebrate the 1,500-year anniversary of the Viking invasion.
Otherwise, head along the coast to genteel Broadstairs, which has a clutch of great beaches. The resort’s main beach, Viking Bay, has received a Quality Coast Award and is short but sandy, with a cliff-top promenade, harbour, pier and boardwalk. Blue Flag Botany Bay has warm golden sand that’s soft underfoot, limpid blue sea, and great outcrops of chalk cliffs that have been chiselled by the sea into enticing caves. It’s popular and quiet, and harks back to the 1950s.
Beyond the beach:
An extraordinary place, situated around 8km (5 miles) north of Ramsgate at Cliftonville in Margate, is the Edwardian Walpole Bay Hotel (www.walpolebayhotel.co.uk). Built in 1914, it’s been lovingly restored and contains many original features such an antique lift and maple-floored ballroom, both of which date back to 1927. It’s a favourite hang-out for contemporary artist Tracey Emin (who’s from Margate), and the hotel doubles as a museum with lots of local memorabilia.
As well as summer donkey rides, there are plenty of children’s amusements. Ramsgate is a lively, handsome town that makes the most of its Blue Flag beaches, and is popular with families and surfers. Filled by Georgian and Victorian buildings, it has a long and venerable history. If it’s raining you can head to the intriguing Maritime Museum (www.ramsgatemaritimemuseum.org.uk), which has lots of objects salvaged from the many wrecks that have occurred along this coast. Broadstairs harks wonderfully back to its Victorian heyday, when Charles Dickens used to holiday here, and has Punch and Judy shows, amusements and donkey rides.
For a treat, there’s one place to head in town: Age & Sons, Charlotte Court. Cooking is adventurous and delicious, fish is caught-that-morning fresh, the spectacular setting is a huge, hospitable, bleached-wood and exposed brick Victorian space, and prices are jaw-droppingly reasonable. You can even follow dinner with a cocktail in the downstairs bar.