Monday, September 10, 2001

Walk 30 -- Ramsgate to Broadstairs

Ages: Colin was 59 years and 125 days. Rosemary was 56 years and 267 days.
Weather: Mostly sunny, with scudding black clouds and a stiff breeze. Cool.
Location: Ramsgate Marina to Broadstairs.
Distance: 3½ miles.
Total distance: 174½ miles.
Terrain: Mostly tarmacked and concreted walkways.
Tide: In.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: ‘The Churchill Tavern’ in Ramsgate where we both enjoyed ‘Old Thumper’.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We drove to Broadstairs and parked the car in a side street. Then we caught a bus to Ramsgate which dropped us off at the very same bus stop where we finished Walk No. 28.
At the end, we walked up the High Street in Broadstairs to the road where we had parked our car. We drove through the new tunnel to the Port at Ramsgate (just out of curiosity) and parked by the beach to have a much-needed cup of tea. Then we drove back through the tunnel, which is half a mile long, and on to Dover where we were booked in at the Youth Hostel. (Unfortunately, Broadstairs and Margate hostels were both full of schoolchildren, and Canterbury could only accommodate us for one night, so it had to be Dover.) The camping season is over as far as I am concerned—it is too cold at night and it gets dark early!

When the bus dropped us off by Ramsgate Marina, it was already 1.30pm. We had been up since six just getting there (with our car parked at the end of the day’s intended walk) so we were both very hungry! We walked about five yards to a bench, sat down and got out our lunch! We could hardly believe that it was less than three weeks since we were last there because conditions were so different. Then it was baking hot and people were everywhere because it was still the school summer holidays. Today it must have been at least ten degrees cooler, and hardly anyone was about. We idly mused about the yachts moored in front of us, and Colin said that if he won a million he would buy the one at the back because it was a steam one—not exactly a yacht!
We walked up the slope to the ‘real ale’ pub—which we had passed without calling in on our last walk—and I noted that the temporary bridge linking the western and eastern harbour walls was down today. We were delighted to find ‘Old Thumper’ for sale at the pub (a favourite beer for both of us) but it was impossible to find somewhere to sit and enjoy it without either having our ear’oles blasted out by pop music or being choked by cigarette smoke! In the end the barman offered to turn the volume down and we sat by the window well away from the smokers, but we noticed the sound gradually got louder until it reached its previous deafening cacophony. When will the people who run these establishments realise that the majority of the population like to converse when relaxing with a drink, and do not wish to shout or strain their ears? Besides that, the ‘Muzak’ is a horrible noise and boring!
We had a lovely view over the harbour and beyond. It was so clear we could see France! We quite thought we had finished with views of the Continent when we left Dover, but to the south-east we could definitely see shadows in the shape of Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Griz Nez. We also noticed a lot of surf a few miles out, and guessed it may be the Goodwin Sands. We watched a ferry leave the harbour and it certainly gave the ‘white horses’ a wide berth, veering off to the north of them. When we couldn’t stand the ‘Muzak’ any longer, we left the pub.

We were just about to descend the seventy or so steps to the harbour when I noticed that the temporary bridge linking the eastern and western walls of the harbour was now up! The tide had come in, so they had removed the tide gate and the bridge so that yachts could go in and out. So we went down the slope again to the bus stop (because it was easier on our poor old knees) and then started the day’s walk for real!
We spent an interesting time looking at the yachts in the marina, some of which had a plaque by them relating their histories. I was most interested in the ones which took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 because that was such an amazing act of bravado and courage on the part of the skippers who took their little boats across the Channel to rescue so many soldiers under the rain of all those bombs! As we walked towards the temporary bridge some people came towards us, and one man told us we were ‘too late’ to cross the harbour as the tide was in and the bridge was up. We tried to tell him we already knew that, and didn’t want to get across anyway, but he wasn’t listening and thought it was all a huge joke.

We walked to the end of the eastern harbour wall. The tide seemed to be right in—we later learned that there were exceptionally high tides during these few days we were walking—and we saw some spectacular splashes against the harbour wall.
When we tired of watching them, we left Ramsgate to the north-east past some beautiful golden sands. The prom we walked along looked fairly new, and was paved with a wavy pattern in various shades of blue with white. It looked really good. Also, high up on the cliff-wall, were some sculptures of nursery characters. They looked a bit older, but were quite jolly all the same.
As the coast turned northwards again—Broadstairs is on the easternmost part of Kent—we had a choice of walking along the bottom of the cliffs or the top. Waves were splashing on to the bottom prom although the tide was not yet fully in, so we decided that it would be more prudent to walk along the top. We went through a memorial park, commemorating the life of King George VI which surprised us—so many playing fields etc around the country were set up in 1935 to immortalise the Silver Jubilee of King George V. We were behind a hedge in the park, and couldn’t see the sea which we didn’t like. We sat on a seat in there and ate the second half of our lunch, while people jogged past us or walked their dogs.
We passed Dumpton Gap where we could have gone down on to the beach but didn’t. Before long we were in Broadstairs, in some rather nice gardens where the toilets were underground. We looked over the sea wall where there was a plaque about a paddling pool on the beach—but no sign of the paddling pool. It seemed rather odd, had someone spirited it away? However, the beach it self was lovely and obviously very well looked after.
The sand was meticulously clean, the beach huts brightly painted, and children’s swings etc completed the jolly scene. They even had a brand new lift going down to the beach, which was free! All that was missing was the sunshine (it had turned very dull by then) and the people, but they couldn’t help the weather and the children were by then back at school on weekdays. It seems that little Broadstairs has really pulled out the stops for their millennium project—we gave it the vote for the best seaside resort so far on this trek! We walked along the top until we reached the end of the High Street, then turned inland to retrieve our car which we had parked some hours earlier in a side road.

That ended Walk no.30, we shall pick up Walk no.31 next time at the point where Broadstairs High Street meets the harbour. We walked back to our car, then we drove through the new tunnel to the Port at Ramsgate (just out of curiosity) and parked by the beach to have a much-needed cup of tea. We were surprised to discover the tunnel was half a mile long! Then we drove back through the tunnel (only way out now the road from the port into Ramsgate Town is closed) and on to Dover where we were booked in at the Youth Hostel.