Folkestone and Sandgate

Walks: Folkestone to Dover, Sandling to Folkestone

Folkestone was a popular resort in the Victorian era and is now trying to smarten up its act again, with new beaches being created below the charming clifftop promenade of the Leas, and the former cross-channel ferry port - the "Harbour Arm" - being transformed into an area of bars and restaurants.

Perhaps due to its being near the narrowest place of the Channel, the sea temperature tends to be a degree or so colder than other south coast beaches. There is also a strong current parallel to the shore when the tide is running, though because of the layout of the beaches this is only really an issue on the stretch westwards to Sandgate.

  • Though shingle (with a bit of sand at lower tides), the new beaches at the foot of the Leas are good places to swim, and offer gently shelving beaches between breakwaters of heaped boulders. These breakwaters usually ensure that the waves are fairly benign and protect you from the current (as you will find out if you swim out beyond them...). The beaches are linked to the Leas by a glorious zigzag path down the cliff, which is well worth ascending or descending for its own sake.

  • For a sandy beach, go beyond the harbour (ie to the east of it) to find Sunny Sands, a pleasant expanse of pure flat sand which is entirely covered by the sea at high tide, and which is also sheltered from the current mentioned in the introductory paragraphs above. Not surprisingly, this beach is very popular with families, so is not a place to go if you are looking for solitude.

  • The coast going west from Folkestone towards Sandgate can seem surprisingly Mediterranean on a bright sunny day, though rather drab under cloud. The beaches are the usual moderately shelving shingle. Sections of the beach expose jagged rocks at low tides, so if the tide is half way down pick your swimming spot carefully. Be careful of the current running lateral to the coast here, which is quite strong when the tide is running.

  • The seafront of the Warren to the east of Folkestone is a very scenic spot, offering one of the few places on the south coast where you can swim at a beach that feels really wild. But there are underwater rocks and the rusting posts of old groynes to watch out for if swimming here. One place relatively free of obstructions is the beach about 400 metres along the promenade, just before a large concrete esplanade that juts out into the sea (big enough to land a helicopter on, one might think)   This is almost, but not entirely, free of underwater rocks, the best bit being about 100 metres before the jutting out part of the esplanade. About 30 metres before the esplanade, however, there is a line of rusting metal posts running out into the sea, which may not be visible when the tide is high.

  • Food and drink options are numerous. There is a cafe on the Leas, just east of the bandstand, and the road that leads inland from it to the station has a useful Tesco Metro for buying picnic lunches. Just to the west of the bottom of the zigzag path is the Mermaid Cafe on the seafront, and there are a number of seasonal options near the Sunny Sands beach. There are a number of bars and eateries on the Harbour Arm, the redeveloped former ferry port. On the clifftop above the Warren is the well-named Cliff Top Cafe.

No comments:

Post a Comment