From Margate to BroadstairsWhere might a good walk for the members of EFOG be on one of the warmest days of the summer? By the seaside of course, and it so happens that a certain newspapers travel section had published this walk so on the 21st July, a sunny summer morning, a group of 17 keen souls set off from Stratford International station to the seaside town of Margate, on the Kent coast. The trouble was, that it was also the first weekend of the school holidays and one of the warmest days of the summer heatwave, so half of the population of London must have jammed its way onto the same train with us, resulting in a marathon stint of standing all the way to Whitstable before the train finally emptied out. Luckily Margate Station has obliging facilities and a coffee shop, so we were able to gather our strength before setting out along the Viking Trail coastal path.
Margate was crammed with holiday makers, and it was nice to see lots of children playing on the beaches as opposed to being at computer screens. We headed around the Turner Art Museum and along the coastal path, complete with some very entertaining graffiti, past the old Lido, all the time on the lower coastal path. It was only once we began to approach Botany Bay that the group had to climb a short but steep ramp to the top of the cliffs and were subject to the full glare of the midday sun. With the exceptional heat in mind, a refreshment stop was quickly voted on at the Botany Bay pub hotel, and a very nice rest stop was had by all. This turned out to be a good thing, as the originally-planned stop at Joss Bay ice cream hut was foiled by the fact that the shop wasn't open! The trail swung inland at the North Foreland Lighthouse, but the group stayed on the cliff-top path until we had to circumnavigate Kingsgate Bay Castle, originally built as a stables for the horses belonging to Lord Holland. This Victorian Gothic creation is now in private hands but provides a charming backdrop to the view of the cliffs.
Down a flight of steps in a narrow alley, we made seashore once again by a parade of delightful beach huts and an obliging flat and sandy beach. Once again the walk plan was rapidly reconfigured to allow for a spot of paddling and even a full on swim by one brave Effoger who had forwar-thinkingly brought her swimsuit! It took quite a bit of encouragement to prise people from this particular perch to make the last mile or so into Broadstairs, but make it they did, hot and tired and eager to take advantage of Broadstairs' many hostelries and food outlets - after all what is better than fish and chips by the sea? Well done to those who made the 6.3 mile journey on a very hot day, including newcomers Anne, Dave and Janet, who assure us that they will be back again for another walk at some point!