Birchington to Herne Bay

Walks: Birchington to Herne Bay

This flat stretch of coast could be pretty bleak in bad weather, but on a sunny day offers calm swimming and vast areas of shallow water at middle states of the tide. Beaches at Birchington, Reculver and Herne Bay are all topped by gently sloping shingle, but at lower tide large expanses of sand (Birchington) and sandy mud (Herne Bay) are revealed. This means that when the tide is about a third to a half up, both places allow you to stay in your depth while swimming well out to sea.

  • Herne Bay's eastern beach is backed by sandy cliffs and is rather romantic in the late afternoon light. From the seafront in the town centre you get a wonderful sunset over the sea in summer

  • When the tide is running is quite a strong current at Herne Bay, running parallel to the coast (westwards when the tide is coming in, eastwards when it is on the ebb). Mostly it will just land you further up the beach than intended, but just to the east of the town centre there is a jet ski channel, which you can be carried into by the current if you are not careful. Yellow buoys mark the swimming area and jet skiers are not supposed to enter into it, but sometimes they cut across it in their exuberance. Swimming further east along the beach should hopefully avoid such risks.

  • Herne Bay's railway station is some way from the sea front. Birchington's is much nearer, but the nearest section of coast is rocky and unswimmable. Head west along the promenade to find the town's beach

  • On sunny summer days, trains can be hugely crowded to both Herne Bay and Birchington due to day trippers going to Margate.

  • Reculver, half way between Herne Bay and Birchington was the site of a Roman fort. Beyond the romantic ruin of a medieval abbey, there is not much to see at the site, but it is still an atmospheric spot, somehow.

  • Food and drink: Herne Bay's seafront has the usual seaside cafes and chip shops. Makcari's in the bandstand to the east of the clock tower is the recommended place for tea (its other branch, on the seafront to the west of the clock tower, is less romantic but does serve a wide range of meals). Birchington's beach has a cafe-pub. There is also a cafe and a pub serving food at Reculver.

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