Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate

Walks: Margate to Broadstairs and Ramsgate

These Thanet towns all have flat sandy beaches, which have been made much more accessible from London with the opening of high speed rail services from St Pancras. In fact, this whole coast is a series of delightful beaches, backed with attractive white cliffs (albeit with rather brown sea water).

However, at low tide there a fringe of sharp rocks (the eroded bases of former cliffs) along most of this coast, exceptions being the main beaches at Margate, Westbrook, Westgate-on-Sea and Broadstairs, the stretch of beach just north of Ramsgate harbour, and Joss Bay and Kingsgate Bay north of Broadstairs

  • Broadstairs is the best of the towns on this coast, and has a very attractive main beach nestling between two high headlands. This offers good sheltered swimming at high tide, though the low tide goes out quite a long way, and you need to be careful of currents sweeping out around the harbour wall when the tide is ebbing. It is often very busy, however, and when the tide is higher Stone Bay, the beach stretching away to the north of the harbour, is a better alternative, less busy and more locals-orientated than the main beach. (At low tide, a fringe of rocks makes swimming tricky on this beach - except opposite the flight of steps in front of the huts at the northern end of the beach). Dumpton Gap, just to the south of the main Broadstairs beach, is also a fair spot for a swim. Being east-facing all these beaches lose the sun in the late afternoon.

  • Botany Bay half way between Margate and Broadstairs is also highly recommended, with a fine stretch of sand backed by cliffs and chalk stacks. However, it does have a fringe of rocks at low tide, apart from a small section opposite the path down from the car park. The northern part of the beach is always much quieter than the southern part, which is popular with families. Kingsgate Bay and Joss Bay are quieter (particularly Kingsgate Bay, as it has no convenient car park) and can be swum at any state of the tide.

  • Margate's flat sandy beach is wildly popular on sunny summer days - it rivals Brighton as a magnet for daytrippers. But the town is decidedly rundown despite a few pleasant corners in its historic centre and the presence of the Turner Contemporary, an iconic modern art gallery. If you are looking for a gently shelving sandy beach (at low tide expect to wade out some distance to get a decent depth for swimming) Westbrook Bay, St Mildred's Bay and Westgate Bay to the west of Margate are all quieter and pleasanter, though Westgate's beach is completely covered for a couple of hours either side of high tide. The promenade or cliff walk to all these places is not unpleasant on a sunny day and all three have cafes in summer.

  • You can also walk along either cliff or promenade to the east of Margate to find an enormous seawater pool in 1.5 kilometres. Sadly neglected, but still popular with locals, it is a reliable place to swim at any state of the tide, apart from very high tide when the sea overtops it (this is how the water gets replenished). This can happen very rapidly, washing your possessions out to sea if you have placed them poolside.

  • Ramsgate's beach, just to the north of the harbour, has been smartened up in recent years, and is a pleasant enough place for a dip. Like other beaches in the area it is gently shelving sand. The southern end has an advantage over over the beaches at Broadstairs in that it keeps the sun till relatively late in the day.

  • The walk from Ramsgate to Broadstairs and Margate is semi-suburban, but not unpleasant. Going north from Ramgate there is a clifftop promenade, but eventually you either have to walk along the beach (at low tide) or go inland for a short distance. Cliff top and bottom promenades then resume for the way into Broadstairs. Beyond Broadstairs you are forced inland briefly, but then resume the clifftop path at the North Foreland for the walk into Margate. The seawater pool near Margate (see above) provides a reliable late afternoon swim and is idyllic towards sunset.

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