The first day of my coast walk! Buzzy anticipatory excitement boarding early morning train to Ramsgate with shiny new ultralight rucksack, mint map and tinfoil wrapped packed lunch made by my girlfriend.
Countless preparatory evenings absorbed in “kit” and browsing route maps … so leaving Ramsgate train station and getting very lost indeed was a bad start. Redeemed by a proper greasy spoon cafe fried breakfast.
START – sandy beach before Royal Victoria Pavilion.
Leaving at 8:40 am – I sailed past the bobbing boats, marched up Military Road and coastal walking dreams became reality.
Felt a fool carrying the Go-Pro in one raised hand, it attracted curious attention, but at two 4k high resolution photos taken every second, or 1200 photos every ten minutes, it creates a time-lapse video of – hopefully – the entire trip around the English coast.
Here’s the Ramsgate to Sandwich to Deal video from today! 6 hours and 50 minutes of walking compressed into 21 zippy minutes –
From the Royal Harbour at Ramsgate, the walk glides along the Westcliff Promenade before darting right above the Pegwell Tunnel for a few minutes road pavement walking.
One quickly dives into nature at the Coastguard Cottages and is rewarded with views over Pegwell Bay and the Sandwich Flats – enjoy the view into the coastal distance as that’s where this path heads today!
A lovely ziggle-zaggle through bushes leads to the green around the replica Viking Ship Hugin. Below in the bay, not that long ago, Hovercraft flew in and out.
Carrying on, at the petrol station, leap from the road pavement into the haven that’s the Pegwell Bay and Sandwich Nature Reserve –
Delightful walking in a special coastal environment … then one reaches the Line of Pillars at Stonelees – concrete bollards to slow invasion in past war.
And then it gets very ugly and very boring … road pavement along the A256 where the land has been given to waste disposal operations that appear to breed skips and dumper trucks. Following the road, it turns left into the Discovery Park Biomass park, then even more pavement, before reaching the magical Kentish Cinque Ports gem that is Sandwich.
Skipping over the bridge, with boats moored below and historic buildings everywhere, it was exactly 11am and I needed a beer … there’s a decent beer garden at the George and Dragon pub –
and leaving the pub, scoffed super home made rolls, she’s a great girlfriend.
At this point, one has a choice. As a serious committed England Coast Path walker, I decided to follow the official route – a lengthy return north following the River Stour, to ensure one hugs the coast, adding a decent chunk to the walk.
If one decides to cheat and cut directly from Sandwich to the coast, they must follow the White Cliffs Country Trail / Saxon Shore Way (clearly marked on the official A-Z map) and then live with their guilt.
I went the official England Coast Path way.
I rather enjoyed the proper trail heading back north, it vaguely follows the River Stour, exposing the huge Pfizer industrial plant.
One walks for a lot of the way upon built up earth banks, designed as flood protection –
These raised banks offer a special path meandering through meadows and muddy river banks that are often hugged by assortments of interesting boats.
If walking, keep an eye out for the path rather sneakily heading left into bushland, I almost missed it from the raised banks – it looks like this –
A narrow path, with naughty stinging nettles and a fallen tree blocking the path, leads to posh Prince’s Golf Course, where the path hugs the boundary offering a stark contrast between wild countryside and manicured greens, and more amusingly, between sweaty outdoor clothed walkers and smart golf attired folk-what-hit-balls-for-pleasure.
Then, delight of delights, one sees the sea again! Along with a stunning view across the bay to the starting point of today’s walk – Ramsgate.
I crashed on the beach, gulped water and enjoyed the last of my packed lunch. My feet and calf muscles had been WhatsApping my brain for the past hour continuously complaining and making rude references to my age (40) and lack of physical preparation (zero) for today.
180′ panorama –
Before me … a vast amount of shingle before the very very distant cluster of posh but isolated coastal houses at the Sandwich Bay Estate, then more shingle and another golf course (Royal St. George’s) before my finishing line – the Deal Pier.
After utter isolation – not meeting a person for longer than one would have imagined – suddenly ultra smart golfers, poo-bag bearing dog walkers and approaching houses marked the nearing end of today’s Ramsgate to Sandwich to Deal walk.
The rubbish changed as well … during the desolate beach hike rubbish was battered salt stripped plastic bottles, hunks of industrial naval rubber, bleached softened driftwood and a large metal industrial lobster pot alongside the sea edge. Approaching Deal, freshly discarded drinks cans, neatly tied doggy poo bags and skimming fresh tissues screamed the approach of concrete dwellers.
Deal was a welcome sight – a significant blister on sole of left foot together with incredibly unfit physical state had rather chipped away at my sense of humour the past few hours!
Approaching Deal Pier a strong magnetic force, impossible to resist, dragged my body away from the coast path, over the road and into a pub … I love Guinness.
Then a dizzy short final skip-limp-push to Deal Pier – the “jump off” point is placing my hand on the bronze sculpture “Embracing the Sea” at 4:30pm … so the “jump on” for my next section of coastal walk will commence at this precise point.
Times for today – Ramsgate to Sandwich to Deal on the England Coast Path –
Left Ramsgate Royal Victoria Pavilion at 8:40am
Arrived at Sandwich at 11:00am
From 11:05 to 11:40am in the pub enjoying a beer.
Walked again from 11:40am to 3:55pm
From 3:55pm to 4:20pm in the pub enjoying a Guinness.
Walked from 4:20 to 4:30pm from that pub to Deal Pier.
So …. I actually walked 6 hours 50 and spent 1 hour in pubs.
Having walked 17.4 miles that’s 2.5 miles an hour (or at 28km that’s 4.1km an hour).
MY ENGLAND COAST PATH STATISTICS : 5th May 2018
Days walking ONLY on the England Coast Path – 1
Distance walked ONLY on the England Coast Path – 17.4 miles / 28 km
Hours walking ONLY on the England Coast Path – 6 hours 50 minutes
Hours spent away from home on Coast Path adventures – 11 hours 30 min
Blisters – 3
Beers enjoyed during England Coast Path walking – 2
Flying insects accidentally ingested – 1
Money spent on trains/hotels/petrol/parking – £15.80
GoPro 4k photos taken – 49,176
GoPro time lapse video footage – 21 minutes
Maps purchased – 3
If you’ve read this far, thank you!
I hope to walk on and add more social media.
Right now, I have this website, my YouTube page (see video above) and an Instagram account (name = coastpathengland)