Ramsgate is, literally, the gateway to Thanet, the outcrop of upper chalk where the North Downs finally meet the North Sea.
It has slightly fewer rams roaming the streets than yesteryear and is now dominated by its 19th-century architecture (check out the Granville Hotel, St Augustine’s Church and others by Pugin) and its continuing fishing industry.
Golden sand of Viking Bay at Broadstairs on the Kent coast ©Getty
1. Cliff-top walk
Start down at the busy marina and pop into the tiny Maritime Museum – it’s free. Leave the seafront along the esplanade and climb the stairs to Victoria Parade. In the George IV Memorial Park, the once-grand East Cliff Lodge is gone, but its ethereal Grade-II listed Italianate greenhouse has been renovated. The cliff-top walk affords fine views before dipping down into ever-so-genteel Broadstairs.
2. Dickens’ favourite
This upmarket town vaunts its picturesque bay and seafront. There’s often a series of market stalls to browse along the promenade. Stop off at Morelli’s for its famous ice-cream, or take a fish lunch at the Tartar Frigate Seafood Restaurant.
Broadstairs does not hesitate to play its trump card – Charles Dickens lived here on and off between 1839-59. You can visit the Dickens House Museum, the Old Curiosity Shop or lunch at the Charles Dickens Hotel.
The cliff-top walk is interrupted to go around Kingsgate Castle, former home of entomologist and naturalist Sir John Lubbock. Fine vistas soon return, as does the opportunity to visit the sandy beaches at Stone, Joss, Kingsgate and Botany bays. At low tide, the seaweed-strewn rock shelves hide all manner of sea anemones, crabs and shellfish.
3. Art and noise
For the final stretch into Margate, choose either cliff-top views or undercliff walkway. The brash new building is the (free) Turner Contemporary; take a diversion along the breakwater to the old lighthouse and the sculpture of Turner’s landlady made of iron seashells. Finally, see what’s on offer on Main Sands, perhaps a funfair or bouncy castle, and you can stock up on twists of seaside rock.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.
How to get there
You can drive to Thanet via the M2 or M20, or travel by train from London (1½ to 2 hours) from Victoria or Charing Cross stations.
Find out more
www.visitthanet.co.uk lists events and providess local weather forecasts.
Margate CT9 1QE
Award-winning, contemporary Indian restaurant.
The Royal Harbour Hotel
Ramsgate CT11 9JF
Originally two adjoining Georgian townhouses in a historic garden crescent; fine sea and harbour views.
Ramsgate hosts the Seaside Shuffle traditional jazz festival 6-8 July 2012 and Broadstairs Folk Week
10-17 August 2012