D78: HERNE BAY to MARGATE
Tuesday 14th June 2022
Today miles: 12.5 Total miles: 1261.9
When Gemma asked me yesterday how far we were walking today, I replied truthfully without downplaying the task ”about 13 miles”. Gemma instantly replied ”that should be fairly easy then”. That would have been the case if the hot weather hadn’t raised itself again, a few more degrees. It’s forecast to be between 28-30 degrees today. We drove back towards Herne Bay, through the school rush hour, the 12 miles taking us almost an hour.
I had 3lts of cold water in my backpack, for me and Gemma, also an additional litre for Alfie. We started walking around 9.30am and almost immediately, with less than 300mts walked we stopped at a cafe on the beachfront for some breakfast. It cost almost £21 for two coffees and two bacon butties and for that I expected a fairly substantial sandwich. I was very irritated and disappointed by the standard size bun and the pathetic two slices of bacon. Gemma pleaded with me not to say anything and I dutifully obeyed, though through gritted teeth. The next two miles flew by quickly and the bacongate incident was quickly forgotten. There’s lots more groynes, the occasional fisherman and several swimmers braving the cool waters. We reached the end of the concrete promenade at Beltinge Cliffs and a large sign warned walkers that the next section of beach is flooded during high tides. Heeding this warning, we climbed up a short ramp on the edge of the cliffs. There were no difficulties finding our way back to the coast at Reculver Country Park and fortunately for company we had a really nice view up towards the remains of St Mary’s church.
The walk up towards the stone ruin of St Mary’s Church is one of the most beautiful views I’ve experienced on my journey along the English Coastal Path. After a quick break in the shade of the ruins I spent a few minutes looking around and admiring the beautiful stonework. There’s another perfectly flat concrete promenade which runs the complete three mile stretch between St Mary’s Church and Plumpudding Island and every so often I’d turn around to catch another glimpse of the ruins. The heat was starting to take a toll on all of us and we were now stopping whenever we found some shade. Gemma had also noticed that Alfie was starting to limp a little. We ate our sandwiches and had an extra long break at Plumpudding Island. There’s no actual Island at Plumpudding Island, there’s just a big farm. Maybe there once was an island, many years ago.
There was only a short walk until we reached the start of the chalk cliffs at Grenham Bay.
For this next stretch I had expected to climb up to the cliff top but was pleasantly surprised to find there’s a concrete walkway at the base. It’s main purpose is to protect the soft chalky cliffs from erosion but it also provides pedestrians and cyclists with a nice view out towards the Kentish Flats and beyond. There are several, old tunnels dug into the cliffs. Having been bricked up many years ago, these holes in the white walls once allowed smugglers in the 16th and 17th century to move there illegal goods onto the cliff top and then further inland.
We continued along the path until we reached Westgate Bay. I moved onto the beach with Alfie and only later on did I realise that dogs are banned from all the beaches along this section, oops, my bad. There’s several beachfront bars and restaurants on the route into Margate and after reaching one of these, marked weirdly with a red double decker bus we left the coastline.
After returning to Herne Bay by train we relaxed back at the hotel. Alfie spent the rest of the day resting in the shade and drank several bowls of water. Gemma had several glasses of wine. It was a nice day along a beautiful route. The weather was hotter then is comfortable and we all suffered because of it.