Whitstable's Beaches

I get a lot of questions about Whitstable's beaches, so here's an introduction, with a few pictures to illustrate .....

The Joy of Pebbles

Firstly, they're not sandy.... Now i'm imagining a fair few groans went out accross the land reading that one, as the fantasy of a bleached white expanse evaporated, but fear not, it still feels like the coast here.

The look of the beaches is very traditionally English - the pebbles divided into sections by large wooden breaks known as 'groins', but on a warm evening, with the sun setting over a calm blue sea, it really doesn't feel like the classic image of the English seaside. It's beautiful, calm, the sky is enormous, and people flock to watch the day's last moments. I've lived in the mediterranean, and seen a fair few stretches of coast, and Whitstable has a very special feel, there's no denying it.

There's a tranquility to the whole scene - wooden clad houses facing the evening light, trees and flowers, and the smell of fresh salt air all combine to fuse a very English feel with an atmosphere I'd only really previously experienced abroad.

A Beach For All Seasons

Here's another strange thing - they're also very beautiful in Winter. There. I said it. When the Sky's grey, the sea turns metallic silver, the wind's whipping the waves into a frenzy, and the boats' masts whistle and clang, this place is almost poetic. Really. Walk along the beach in winter, and you'll get a true feel of raw nature - it's inspirational stuff.

A Note About Dogs

I get a lot of enquiries about whether it's ok to walk dogs on Whitstable's beaches. I see people walking their dogs along the beaches all the time, and there are fouls bins conveniently placed along the entire stretch so that everyone can clean up after their little friends and keep the beach enjoyable for everyone. So, as far as I know, dog walking is an acceptable activity, however, for the most current, definitive legal answer, you'd have to get in touch with Canterbury City Council and check.

The Layout

Tankerton Slopes

Where the town of 'Tankerton' meets Whitstable is an area known as Tankerton Slopes. As the name suggests, the grass slopes down towards the beach and the path which leads right along the coast, to neighbouring towns. People walk dogs here, or ride bikes, and on the rare occassions when it snows in Whitstable, this is a favourite spot for sledging and general snow-based fun. If you look out to sea at low tide, a long stretch of pebbles and land known as 'The Street' leads out to sea, and provides a temporary natural promenade - be careful though, when the tide comes in, it has a way of creeping up on you ...

In summer, these slopes are where everyone gathers to watch the regatta's fireworks display, the community fun day is also held here, and it's right next to Whitstable's largest manor house, which is known variously as 'Whitstable Castle' or 'Tankerton Castle' (depending on where you live). The infamous beach huts make their first appearance here, much photographed, and increasing in popularity and demand all the time, these huts are privately owned, and people mill about, cook, and generally enjoy the setting here.

The Harbour and Surrounding Beaches

From Tankerton slopes, if you keep walking left along the beach ('left' if you're looking out to sea), you will eventually reach the Harbour's recently renovated East Quay, and if you follow the little tarmaced road which bears left off the beach, you'll arrive at Whitstable Harbour. Scuba diving was invented here, and there's an iron sculpture commemorating it. The harbour's fully functioning, with fishmarkets, cockles and whelks, and The Crab and Winkle restaurant. If you walk through the harbour, you can turn left, which will lead you back to the main road, and the entrance to Harbour Street, or turn right, and walk past the RNLI lifeboat station to continue following the beach.

 

From The Harbour to The Horsebridge

Passing the lifeboat station on your left, if you keep walking, you'll pass the Whitstable Yacht Club, where racing yachts are parked along the beach, and the wooden launching jetty runs down to the water. When there's a breeze, the masts whistle and chime, and this stretch of beach frequently clears as the boats all take to the sea.

If you keep walking, the stone path gives way to a brief section of decking leading past the 'Horsebridge' jetty, where, once upon a time, horses would be lead down to the water where Thames barges would wait to be loaded and unloaded. A little further on is 'Cushing's View'

Cushing's View

Named after the actor and much-loved Whitstable resident, Peter Cushing, who, it is said, liked to sit here and enjoy the view, Cushing's View marks perhaps the most central point of Whitstable's beaches. Thanks to its proximity to the High Street, this spot is usually well populated with visitors and locals taking a stroll or unwinding. It's a great place to take in a sunset, and shows the fondness the town held for the late Mr.Cushing.

Cushing's View to West Beach

From Cushing's View, you can see the Neptune Pub in the distance, a big white wooden-clad building which sits right on the beach and roughly marks the beginning of West Beach. Between Cushing's View and The Neptune, the beach widens, and is lined with beach-front houses. All of these stretches of beach can get pretty crowded on a hot summer's day, and it's a lovely stretch to stroll along on a summer's eve.

Looking back towards Cushing's view from the Neptune .

West Beach

West Beach begins just past the Neptune, with a pretty row of beach-front cottages known as 'Marine Terrace'. It's very picturesque, and leads on to the municipal tennis courts and West Beach Tennis Club on the left of the walkway. Further still is the row of traditional terraced houses on Wave Crest, and this is probably the busiest stretch of beach when the sun's out. Once upon a time there was a cafe here called 'The Red Spider', but plans to rebuild it seem to have gone quiet again recently.

The beach continues on past Wave Crest, with it's brightly coloured balconies and develops a slightly more remote feel. More beach huts appear towards the Seasalter end of West Beach as well as the caravan park, and this whole section has recently been redeveloped with 'groins' which partition the beach and provide a sea defence. Whitstable was once seriously flooded as the sea breached the defenses at this point. The area inland of this section of beach is a golf course. The remains of the original Horsebridge still exist here.

Further on, you enter the town of Seasalter.
 
 

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