Walking in South East England – seaweed and chalk on Ramsgate beach

Hiking in South East England

I’m at my happiest when close to the sea and walking coastal paths is an obvious way to nurture this state of mind. Hiking in South East England is also a practical choice when living in London; most hikes and walks are just a day trip away. They can be easily reached by train and an average journey takes between 1 to 2 hours one way. Although it is also possible to get close to nature in London, the occasional day trip away from the city brought some variety into the ominous summer of 2020.

Ramsgate to Margate via Broadstairs

Hiking in South East England – colourful beach huts at Margate
Beach huts in Margate

Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate are located on the Isle of Thanet along the England Coast Path which is also part of the Viking Coastal Trail. The Isle of Thanet is actually a peninsula at the most easterly point of the English county of Kent. Vikings used to raid the area in the late eight century but now it’s a pleasant coastal stretch perfect for a day hike.

Ramsgate

Trains from London St Pancras to Ramsgate take between 1.15 h and 2 hours and run on a regular basis. You can equally choose to start the walk from Margate and arrive in Ramsgate. When hiking in South East England it always makes sense to check the tide. I have to admit that I didn’t do it on this occasion. Some beaches are only accessible during low tide and being closer to the sea makes for a more pleasant hiking experience. Regardless of tides, a nice feature of this walk is that each of the three cities has a completely different feel to it. Admittedly, I didn’t see much of Ramsgate because I was keen to move on, but I did enjoy a glimpse at the Royal Ramsgate Marina.

Ramsgate Tunnels on the esplanade between Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Hiking in South East England along the England Coast Path.
Perefect for a rainy day at the seaside – The Ramsgate Tunnels

I also walked passed the Ramsgate Tunnels which looked intriguing enough to warrant another visit. Past the tunnels stretched a long esplanade flanked by white chalk cliffs and a seaweed-covered beach. It’s an easy and unchallenging walking path, ideal to tune in into one’s thoughts and just keep on walking.

Hiking in South East England – the esplanade and white chalk cliffs in Ramsgate
Chalk, graffiti and seaweed – the esplanade outside of Ramsgate

Broadstairs

Whereas Ramsgate has the feel of a seaside town, Broadstairs has a more villagey quality of a beach resort. Although small, it’s bustling and charming with narrow lanes and plenty of nice pubs, cafés and restaurants. Prior to doing the walk, I visited Broadstairs on a hot summer’s day to spend a day on the beach with the family.

Hiking in South East England – Vikings Bay in Broadstairs
Come out and play
A Victorian building in the beach resort of Broadstairs, South East England.
My favourite building in Broadstairs

Margate

The final stretch from Broadstairs to Margate continued for a bit along the esplanade. Then it became less obvious and I had to consult Google maps to navigate. As mentioned, some of the beaches are only accessible during low-tide and as I didn’t plan, I had to stick to higher grounds. Along the way, I decided to have a break and stop for a half-pint at the pub Captain Digby.

Arriving in Margate, I was greeted by long sandy beaches, the modern Turner Contemporary art gallery (another item for the next visit) and amusement parks with vintage rides. Margate is known for its art scene which I wouldn’t mind exploring during another visit. Just across the road from the Turner Contemporary is the Old Town with plenty of nice eateries to finish in the hike in style. That’s it, I have walked the most south-easterly corner of England!

Total length: 6.8 mile (11km)

Difficulty: Easy

Advice: Check the tides! Apparently it’s possible to do the entire walk along the beach during low tide.

Refreshments: Neptune’s Hall and Captain Digby in Broadgate, The Kentish Pantry in Margate (Old Town)

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