A 5.3 mile circular walk around Sandwich
- Credit: Archant
If you love a bit of birding, then you’ll be in seventh heaven on this walk that meanders through the sand dunes and salt marshes and rich habitats of the Sandwich bird observatory
Location: Sandwich, CT13 9FH
Distance: 5.3 miles (8.53 km) circular
Time: Allow 2 hours 30 minutes
OS Explorer Maps: 150
Terrain: Paths and tracks
Public transport: For public transport directions from your home address to Sandwich, please visit kentconnected.org
Parking: Park at the Quay in Sandwich
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Refreshments & facilities: Public toilets at The Quay; many cafes, restaurants and public houses in Sandwich
If you love a bit of birding, then you’ll be in seventh heaven on this walk that meanders through the sand dunes and salt marshes and rich habitats of the Sandwich bird observatory. Spring time is a great time to see plenty of bird activity taking place in this area with the return of several species of migrant birds. Don’t forget to explore the quaint cobbled streets and alley ways of Sandwich on your return and follow the ancient town wall down to the quay.
The historic quay in Sandwich is the starting point for this walk. It’s hard to believe that this quay was a prosperous trading centre and gateway to mainland Europe in its heyday during the 1200’s. Sandwich was unusually established on a spit of sand in the seventh century prior to its conception as an important port. It became known as a ‘Cinque’ port, part of a group of mediaeval ports in Kent and Sussex that were allowed trading privileges in return for supplying the bulk of England’s navy. Nowadays the term is just ceremonial. Sandwich was one of the first towns in England to have an appointed Mayor.
Follow the path as it meanders along by the river before joining the much-loved Saxon Shore Way; you’ll soon be heading over the immaculate green turf of the Royal St George’s Golf course, one of the most famous and difficult golf courses in the world. The golf club was founded in 1887 and has played host to over 13 Open Championships.
As you make your way down to the open sea at sandwich bay, you’ll get your first glimpse of the mass of bird life the bay attracts. Wildfowl, wading birds, visiting and resident species included Mute Swans, curlew, corn bunting, oyster catcher and grey heron.
The highlight of your walk is the bird observatory; you’ll pass right by the entrance of the Trust Field Centre. The centre is open daily and is a good source of information about the wildlife in the area, including some rare sightings. The observatory carries out scientific bird migration and monitoring programmes for national and international projects.
You will then pass through pass through further interesting landscape including the Sandwich and Hacklinge Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and past small farms and arable fields that will be bursting into life at this time of year.
Leaving the fields behind, you will head back into the hustle and bustle of Sandwich. The town has a wonderful history including some interesting historical buildings. Sandwich Guildhall was built in 1576 and was modified during the 20th century. The moot horn hanging in the Guildhall was used as far back as the 12th century to summon local people to hear important announcements.
The Barbican Gate, built in the 16th century, was the former tollgate to the bridge over the River Stour. Of course, the name of Sandwich itself is linked directly with the Sandwich delicacy of today. It is said to have been invented by the Earl of Sandwich who called for cheese, bread and meat to be served so that he could continue to gamble rather than dine formally. The story goes that the other players also called for ‘the same as sandwich.’
Follow the town wall back to the quayside where your walk ends near the area where Henry III’s sailors defeated the French in the Battle of Sandwich.
Your visit to Sandwich doesn’t have to end here though. Why not take a guided boat trip from the quay to learn more about the history of the town and the local environment? for even more of a history fix, visit nearby Richborough archaeological remains and museum which reveals the changing importance and fortunes of this stretch of the Kent coast in the Roman Times.
To find out about other walks and events in Kent including Easter Trails and stunning bluebell walks, please visit the Explore Kent website www.explorekent.org. Follow Explore Kent on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram