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book3 walk28 swcwalks

Birchington to Herne Bay walk

Easy coastal walks, passing the dramatic ruins at Recluver

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 22-Jul-17 24

Saturday Walk - Whitstable Oyster Festival – Birchington-on-Sea to Whitstable [Easy Walk] [Swimming Walk]

Length: 22.7 km (14.1 mi)
Ascent/Descent: approx. 70m; Net Walking Time: 4 ½ hours
Toughness: 2 out of 10
Take the 09.27 Margate train from St. Pancras I’nal (09.34 Stratford I’nal), arrives Birchington-on-Sea 10.53.
Return trains are on xx.28 to Victoria, and on xx.50 to St. Pancras I’nal (they leave Herne Bay 6-7 mins earlier). Buy a Birchington return.
This is the long version of an easy coastal walk - it is entirely flat - and the directions are straightforward and consequently minimal. It passes the dramatic landmark of Reculver, the remains of the twin towers of a 12th C church set amongst the ruins of a Roman Fort (free entry) and ends in the delightful Whitstable, which has its annual Oyster Festival starting today.
Note: this Festival has gained some notoriety for “excessive drinking, littering and over-crowding”, so we should fit right in.
There are opportunities for sea swimming throughout, and though the walk is almost entirely on tarmac or concrete paths, with only a 1km section beyond Reculver on grassy clifftops, there are still plenty of rural delights. After an initial section on the seafront promenade (or cliff top park) of Birchington-on-Sea you follow the raised sea wall over the flat marshland (a sea channel until the 12th century), along an unspoilt shingle beach which has interesting wildflowers and seabirds, and also fine views of distant shipping and windfarms, and the ruins of Reculver church as an aiming point on the horizon.
Beyond Reculver your path takes you along the top (or bottom) of a very pleasant grassy slope facing the sea, which again has interesting wildflowers, to the charming, if slightly faded, seaside resort of Herne Bay (possibility of shortcutting here, as well as in Swalecliffe) and on to Whitstable.
This is a walk almost entirely without mud. But note that there is no shelter, however, so in rain and/or strong westerly winds, it can be fairly wretched.

Lunch: King Ethelbert Inn in Reculver (8.3 km/5.2 mi) or a seasonal café 1 minute away or one of many pubs in Herne Bay (14-15 km).
Tea: lots of choice in Whitstable, but expect every outlet to be very busy (as well as the trains).
For summary, map, height profile, some photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here.
T=swc.28.b
Great idea ;)
It is high tide at Herne Bay at 12.13 today. This means good swimming in the morning of this walk and early afternoon: after this time the sea retreats a long way over mud and shingle at both Herne Bay and Whitstable. So get your swims in early.

The main beach at Birchington (not the first bit of coast you come to, but a little way into the walk) is actually quite a nice place to swim when the tide is high.

From memory there is also a small swimmable beach at Reculver: possibly other places between Birchington and Reculver too, but this is where I remember swimming in the past.
20 walkers alighted from the train, amongst whom was a group of 4 first timers. Initially we walked along the clifftop, but soon descended to the waterside cliff bottom concrete path. Up to Reculver it was overcast with lots of sun breaking through, and the sea was a wee bit smelly initially (must have been the seaweed and algae?). The many beach huts, some short sandy beaches and a cafe (The Windshack) were interesting features on this stretch, guided by the far away Reculver ruins.
Reculver itself did not disappoint: some very good info panels explaining the history of the Isle of Thanet, the ex Roman fort site and the ruined monastery church and its towers.
On to the King Ethelbert Inn for most of the group, where we were met by another walker who had arrived on a later train from Victoria. Our seats were outside, the service was efficient and the food ok. Life was good.
On to Herne Bay, with a windmill farm out at sea dominating the view. Some stopped at Makcari's in the old bandstand for ice cream or cream tea, others went ahead.
The stretch to Whistable is then more built up, but still has a grassy nature reserve on offer. By now it was completely overcast and the threat of rain was in the air. Up to the top of Tankerton Slopes, where the Oyster Festival has been relocated this year after too many protests from businesses and residents in the centre of Whitstable. It consisted of some fairground attractions and lots of food stalls, but bizarrely only one oyster stall!
Just as we had convinced ourselves that we should move on to the centre to check out the offerings there, a heavy 15 minute downpour started, splitting the remining group in the rush to put on waterproofs or to find shelter.
About two handfuls reunited at the Lobster Shack, initially outside, then migrating inside when a table was freed up. There we stayed for quite a while, rotating in placing more orders for seafood and drink.
We had already linked up with three other SWC stalwarts who had walked in from Herne Bay, taking to the sea along the way for a revogorating swim, but they decided to keep exploring the delightful Whistatble.
Most of the Lobster Shack group then let another train go, prefering to sit on the pebble beach outside the Whitstable Oyster Bar with one last drink, taking in the couldscapes and the sun's rays breaking through them.
20.50 train for those.
So, 24 in total, with the weather overcast with sunny breaks for the fast walkers that got to Whitstable before the downpour.
Wed, 02-Mar-16 2

Midweek day walk - Birchington to Herne Bay

Birchington to Herne Bay - Keep the sea on your right

Easy coastal walk, passing the dramatic ruins at Reculver

Book 3* Walk 28

*On-line only
Length : 14 km or 9 miles

Toughness : 1 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:27 am train from St. Pancras International (10:34 am Stratford International) to Birchington-on-Sea or
Catch the 10:07 from London Victoria (10:23 am Bromley South) changing at Rochester to join the St. Pancras train.
High speed train fares are now about £5 more than standard fares and I seem to remember someone managed to upgrade on a return journey for the difference, before the HST joined the Ashford to St. Pancras track. (Train aficionados comments welcome!)

Meeting point : Birchington-on-Sea Station at 11:53 am

Tickets : Buy a cheap day return to Birchington-on-Sea

Brief Description

It is possible to do this walk in reverse to avoid the prevailing winds, but hey, we're the Saturday Walkers! - Herne Bay also sports the better tea stop options.
For those of you wanting to extend the walk, you may carry onto Whitstable, adding about 7 km to the walk. (If I recall correctly, there's an excellent Chippy in Whitstable. )

You may find full details of this walk here

Suggested Lunch stops

King Ethelbert Inn, Reculver Lane CT6 6SU, t: 01227 374368
The Dolphin Bar & Restaurant t: 01227 504 987

Suggested Tea stops

Makcaris 54, Central Parade, Herne Bay t: 01227 374 977 - open to 6:00 pm
Additionally, Herne Bay has several pubs: just beyond the clock tower on the left the Saxon Shore is a very pleasant Wetherspoon's outlet.

Map

OS Explorer : 150

Return train times

Trains return from Herne Bay at 44 minutes past the hour to London St. Pancras ( journey time 1 hour 26 minutes ) and to London Victoria at 16:12 | 17:16 | 18:16 ( journey time 1 hour 40 minutes )

Trains return from Whitstable at 50 minutes past the hour to London St. Pancras and to London Victoria at 16:19 | 17:23 | 18:23
Journey time for me from Victoria of 2 and a half hours and a cold wet and windy forecast will mean I shall be joining the West London Ramblers today if I can face the weather at all!
This walks was too much of a trek for me too especeially as i like to get back for dancing in the evenings.
Also some people who like to attend these walks are between jobs and walks that are so far away can be pricey ticketwise.jfk
2 hardy souls on this trek. The weather was extremely variable with a microburst of hail and strong gusty winds as we left Birchington but just for 10 minutes. Intrepid walker 2 was heard to mutter "We must be insane" as we huddled in a bus shelter. However the hail and rain ceased and the wind dropped and the sun shone as we approached Reculver. During a hearty meal at the King Ethelbert Inn, another shower rolled in and the wind increased. It was a little challenging as we walked onto Herne Bay, but the sun re appeared on our approach. We stopped for a welcome break and a drink at Makcaris before catching the 4:44pm back to London.
All in all an invigorating and exhilarating outing, but not for the faint hearted.
HST train fares were £18.40 with a card.
Sat, 02-Jan-16 6

Saturday Second Walk - an easy walk along the sea

SWC walk 28 - Birchington to Herne Bay
Length: 14km (8.7 miles)
Toughness: 1 out of 10

9.37 train from Victoria (9.53 Bromley South), arriving Birchington-on-Sea at 11.14

Buy a day return to Birchington-on-Sea.

This is a very simple walk along the sea. If the weather cooperates it makes a rather glorious winter outing, with views of marsh and estuary in the morning, the ruins of Reculver as an aiming point, a cheap and cheerful lunch pub, and then a very gentle walk over low cliffs to Herne Bay in the afternoon. See photos of this walk for what it can be like.

It is fair to say that if the weather is wet and windy, however, it has absolutely no shelter whatsoever. And you are going west, so strong winds from the west will be straight in your face.

When you first see the four lines of walk directions (at the bottom of the home page for this walk) you will think they are a joke, but this really is all you need to do this walk. The morning is all on tarmac paths - so no mud - but in fine wild scenery after the first kilometre or so. In the afternoon you are on grassy paths, but these too are usually pretty firm underfoot.

Herne Bay has various cheerful tea places, not mentioned in the walk document - a large cafe on the seafront whose name escapes me, or try the structure on the prom about 100 metres beyond the clocktower (a former bandstand and open air dance hall?) which has another nice cafe.

Trains back are at 21 past to Victoria and 44 past to St Pancras: for the latter train you need to have paid the high speed supplement (and you can't have a boundary zone ticket), but any ticket holder can take St Pancras trains to Faversham and change there (arrive 58, depart 03) for a Victoria train.

"And you are going east, so strong winds from the west will be straight in your face." Actually you're going west, so you will indeed be facing those westerly winds.

Thanks, Chris. I have corrected the post.

anyone planning on going? this sounds like a great one

thanks
To have the wind at our back, shouldn't we be starting at Herne Bay?
Actually, looking at the current weather forecast (which is alas quite wet at time of writing) it would not help to reverse the walk, as the wind is due to come from the south. The problem with doing the walk in reverse is also that Birchington has no tea places, as far as I am aware, though Westgate on Sea just over a mile further on MAY (repeat MAY) have a beachfront cafe open: another mile and three quarters takes you to Margate.

The main objection to reversing the direction of the walk, however, is that it will create confusion amongst those going on it, splitting the group into those that start at Herne Bay and those that start at Birchington.

Given that it is a southerly wind anyway, I would stick to the Birchington start.

6
drizzle
Weather not as forecast. In fact there was only light drizzle towards the end of the walk. The tide was out so the rock pools (at the beginning of the walk) looked very attractive in the Winter light. If you get excited by Saxon churches commes moi there is one on this walk, albeit a ruin. Lots of interesting information boards on the Herne Bay seafront were read by two of us before we had a nice cup of tea at a pub by the station. The only down side to this walk was the amount of unpicked up dog mess.
Wed, 20-Feb-13 Birchington to Herne Bay
Sat, 08-Dec-12 Birchington to Herne Bay
Sun, 22-Jul-12 Birchington to Herne Bay
Sun, 02-Oct-11 Birchington to Herne Bay
Wed, 18-Aug-10 Birchington to Herne Bay
Wed, 19-Aug-09 Birchington to Herne Bay
Mon, 25-Aug-08 Birchington to Herne Bay
Sun, 29-Jun-08 Birchington to Herne Bay
Sat, 11-Aug-07 Birchington to Herne Bay
Wed, 18-Jul-07 Birchington to Herne Bay