Walk of the month: Ramsgate to Pegwell Bay
- Credit: Archant
The Contra Trail leads past the hustle and bustle of modern Ramsgate, down the gently undulating Isle of Thanet Coastal path and into the natural peace and tranquillity of Pegwell Bay
Location: Ramsgate (CT11 8LN)
Distance: 6 miles (9.8 km)
Time: Allow 3 hours
OS Explorer Map: 150
Terrain: Mainly flat surfaced paths with one field edge path and surfaced tracks around Pegwell Bay
Parking: Pay and display parking in the town and along the harbour.
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Refreshments & facilities: Shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs in Ramsgate. Pub and seasonal kiosk at Cliffs End and Dog Walkers Rest Café at Pegwell Bay Country Park.
A Royal Harbour with the common touch. An English monument to a Viking invasion. A nature reserve with wetland birds you’ll want to shout about. Beautiful bays and boats galore, this walk introduces you to the areas contradictions and its stunning landscapes.
The Contra Trail leads past the hustle and bustle of modern Ramsgate, down the gently undulating Isle of Thanet Coastal path and into the natural peace and tranquillity of Pegwell Bay. Thanks to the wonderfully diverse range of pubs, restaurants and local attractions on the route, this walk is one you can enjoy with a full belly and a spring in your step.
Your walk begins in the heart of the only British harbour that can claim to be ‘Royal’ – a unique honour that followed a visit to Ramsgate in 1820 by King George IV, who was so moved by the warmth and hospitality he received from his commoners, that he officially decreed the harbour to be ‘Royal’.
It will introduce you to a vibrant, modern town steeped in history at every turn. Elegant Georgian houses, traditional fishermen’s cottages, stylish terraced restaurants and busy pubs such as the Churchill Tavern, a local inn with an authentic country atmosphere and a wide-ranging selection of quality real ales.
Along the way you will pass the beautiful marina with its array of boats and yachts with the start of the walk just a stone’s throw from the best chip shop in Britain.
A wealth of sights, old and new, all help create a perfect backdrop to this perfectly British walk. Discover more than a hint of the continent in the town’s delicious choice of restaurants and pavement cafés like the stylish Miles Bar overlooking the harbour, wonderful pubs like The Queens Head, and aptly named Nice Things, in the Custom House - a charming little shop that boasts a truly impressive selection of ceramics, glass, jewellery and textiles. It is this wonderful mix of businesses and styles that help to make Ramsgate such a special town with so much to offer everybody.
Savour every moment though, because you will soon be leaving the hustle and bustle of this extraordinary harbour town behind as you make your way to the seclusion of the cliff top and begin the second stage of this inspired route.
This well-trodden path is steeped in history of its own… you just need to know where to look. Take the honeycombed network of caves and tunnels buried deep in the chalk and rock of the cliff you are standing on, these once allowed notorious 17th century smugglers ply their dreadful trade. Call in to the Belle Vue Tavern today and you step into a tavern full of history and legend. It is a place where exiled royalty are thought to have stayed during the French Revolution and Charles Dickens regularly enjoyed something delicious to eat and drink. Find out all about the landing of the Vikings when you walk past The Hugin, a striking life sized and faithfully replicated Nordic longboat along the route.
You will wander ancient cliffs, walk in the footsteps of royalty and raise a glass to villains and heroes before arriving at your final destination, Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve. Home to an amazing variety of plants and animals this Nature Reserve is nationally and internationally important for wildlife. You can find more habitats here than anywhere else in the south east. The mudflats, saltmarsh, beach, sand dunes, coastal scrublands and cliffs are home to dozens of rare species of plants and wetland birds. The Contra Trail is a wonderful way to explore this remarkable national treasure.