Flat, surprisingly varied, often isolated but with odd flashes of my childhood – beach huts, large families in anoraks, wind breaks firmly planted in the sand.
- 47 miles, starting at Herne Bay station and ending at Dover Priory station, with good weather throughout
- Coastal route, mostly flat, mostly on traffic free roads (although the approach to Dover was more hilly and some of it involved riding with traffic)
- Rode a touring bike, which was fine, although a Mountain or Hybrid bike would probably have been a better choice for some sections
- Took about five and a half hours from start to finish, four and a quarter of those actually cycling at an average speed of about 11 miles per hour
- Sunday 26 August 2012
To see the route in all its glory click here. I took OS Landranger Map 179 (Canterbury and East Kent), but on the ride only really referred to the Sustrans/AA guide ‘Cycling in the South East of England’ using Ride 27, North Kent Coast, to get me from Herne Bay to Margate after which I followed signposts for the Viking Coastal Trail around the Isle of Thanet until I picked up Ride 26, Pegwell Bay to Dover.
The idea of cycling the along the coast was sparked by a couple of recent train journeys through Essex for work, which provided tantalising glimpses of the sea and a flood of childhood memories. Why Kent, then? Nothing more than that I liked the look of the coastal routes in the Sustrans/AA book, and I could work out how to get there and back in a day on the train. Essex can wait.
Getting there was fairly straight forward. After checking with the ticket office at Victoria Station, I bought a return ticket to Dover Priory. The train I caught went to Dover Priory, although the bit that went to Herne Bay (the first four carriages) split off at Faversham. The guard on the train confirmed that my return ticket to Dover was valid on the Herne Bay train, but also issued me with a second one in case I decided to return from Herne Bay. Belt and braces, I guess.
Having made my way to the sea front, the first coastal stretch of route was concrete causeway … and fairly desolate concrete causeway at that. Just as this was beginning to get a bit boring the route briefly goes up hill, through a small park and then sweeps down a reinforced grass path, past a great warning sign for unstable cliffs, towards the Reculver Towers.
The route carried on along the coast first into Margate, which looked tired but worth another visit, then up to Broadstairs before heading back down to Ramsgate. Some of the stretches along the base of the cliffs towards Broadstairs were again a bit monotonous, leavened by salty sea breezes and occasional clusters of beach huts.
Really taken by the troglodyte-esque house frontages built onto the causeway arches on the run in to Ramsgate.
Whether it was missing Sandwich, but lunch seemed also to get lost along the way.
Overall, a good day’s ride and eminently doable as a day out from London.