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Friday, 10 September 2010

Walk 3 Herne Bay to Faversham

Walk 3 Herne Bay to Faversham (Kent)

Map: L/R 179 and 178
Distance: 12 miles approx
Difficulty: quite easy but can be windy off the estuary
Terrain: quite easy, mostly earth/grassed paths and pavement
Access: Good train links

Follow the Wantsum Way which changes into the Saxon Shore Way.The flat, sometimes bleak, looking coast has pebble, mud and sand beaches. Pass through Hampton with its small concrete pier used for fishing, nearby is the yacht club. Then through Swalecliffe with its wooden holiday homes close to the sea.

Tankerton is next with its colourful beach huts. In 2005 these were up for sale at £15000 (no mains services and rather open to vandals!) This area has the rare hogs fennel, also known as sulphur weed, growing, distinguished by it's yellow flowers. The beaches here were part of a thriving copperas or green vitriol industry in the 17th and 18th century. This was extracted from stones on the beach and used to make nitric and sulphuric acid. One use was for chlorine in the textile industry.

On the east side of Whistable Harbour is the site of the first steam operated railway. The trains went to Canterbury; known as the Crab and Winkle line it was closed in 1952. A plaque gives further info.

Whistable has been famous for its oysters fro 2000 years and has the largest oyster beds in Europe. The pungent smell of the fish market dominates the area. Nonetheless, the quaint properties make this an attractive walk. There would be more of these buildings but, many years ago, a candle knocked over by a monkey in a workshop caused a major fire. On the west side of the sea front is Cushing’s View where the Isle of Sheppey can be viewed and, on a clear day, Southend on Sea. The actor Peter Cushing lived and died in the town and enjoyed this view. The local museum has further info. The diving helmet was invented in Whistable and, occasionally, there are exhibitions and demos.

As you come out of Whistable you pass the Old Neptune Inn which was locked in by ice in 1956. Go through Seasalter which takes its name from salt pans which once existed on the shore. A church stood near here serving the salt works in medieval times. The sea defence wall was built after extensive flooding and stopped the industry.

Walk beside South Cleve, South Oare and Nagden Marshes. Don’t expect to meet many people! There are old rusty hulks in Faversham Creek. Follow the path along the creek side into Faversham. The area was once the centre of Britain’s explosives industry. It is well worth a visit to the local museum to learn about this. The Shepherd and Neame Brewery (oldest independent brewer in the UK) is in the town and produces excellent beers. Tried, tested and vouched for!

Snaps show: Cushings View, Whistable; The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable; The fish market; private beach at Seasalter.

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