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It is my dream and goal to visit as many places in the UK as I possibly can, especially places relative to my Project 101.

If I could spend every day travelling and going to new places I surely would…in between visiting home and my family of course ūüėČ I’m looking forward to the day I buy my motor home.

A few weeks ago I contacted the agency I get my assignments from and asked if they could send me farther afield than Kent…I’ve been to so many places in Kent already as well as many in the neighbouring counties, and I really wanted to extend my range again. Since Nottingham is on my list of places to go, so when they suggested a position in the city for 2 weeks I jumped at the chance.

After a long day of travel I finally arrived at Nottingham Station. It’s a long way from Broadstairs to Nottingham…5.5 hours and 3 train changes.

The Nottingham Canal that I crossed over on my way from the station to the B&B opened in 1796. I love seeing canal boats on a river, they always look so quaint and intriguing.

This is my first visit to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, which is really exciting, as I’m now able to add this visit to a few categories on my Project 101: Domesday Book town, walled city, a major river, a castle, a cathedral city, a cathedral…which remarkably is linked to the Architect Augustus Pugin and ties in to the walk I did last year : The Way of St Augustine.

Can’t wait to explore, although proper exploration will have to wait till the assignment is finished, to which end I’ve booked to stay for a couple of days after. However there is no reason why I couldn’t pop out for a short walk around the city even though it was already dark out.

Nottingham is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as “Snotingeham” and “Snotingham”. Named for a Saxon Chieftain ‘Snot’, it was dubbed “Snotingaham” meaning literally, “the homestead of Snot’s people” (Inga = the people of; Ham = homestead).

First on the agenda was a visit to Nottingham Castle. I’d walked past it on my way to the B&B and seriously it was quite simply amazing…..

Nottingham Castle was constructed in the 11th century on a sandstone outcrop by the River Trent. I have never seen any such location for a castle in my life. The outcrop appears to be pock marked with caves and holes…and apparently, after reading the storyboard nearby, it seems that there are in fact tunnels and caves below the castle…..now I’m really intrigued and excited. The opening time is March which means my timing is perfect…thankfully. At the side of the castle is a fab statue of Robin Hood, he of Nottingham Forest and Maid Marion fame…..steal from the rich to feed the poor. Remember the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves… I wonder if he looked anything like Kevin Costner ūüėČ

On the way there I passed Ye Olde trip to Jerusalem Inn which according to the blurb, is the oldest inn in England. Apparently this too has tunnels running beneath so of course I absolutely have to go back for a tour.

From there I took a stroll through the streets passing a fab little Tudor style house. I didn’t see many medieval style houses – I must try to find out if there are any.

The pedestrianised area is lined with the usual high street shops and stores…it look so familiar to many places I’ve been I could have been almost anywhere. Is there a template?

I did enjoy seeing the electrified trams…reminded me of Amsterdam and Dublin.

I stopped for a quick bite at Five Guys, I haven’t ever eaten there before, and probably won’t again. The sandwich I had was okay, and the fries edible but nothing to write home about.

Since it was was already very dark I decided to head back to the B&B and settle in for a nice hot bath, some T.V. – one of my favourite shows: Call the Midwife and then an early night is in order.

I’m looking forward to when the assignment is over and I can explore more thoroughly. I enjoyed finding these coats of arms and of course a door is always intriguing..

Planning, planning, planning. What fun it’s been planning my 2 big 2018 pilgrimages; The Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago and from there on the Camino Finisterre with a final journey to Muxia; the now agreed furthermost point of mainland Europe and an ancient pilgrims destination.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve had hours of fun with researching what to see, reading the respective pilgrimage guides, studying the route on google maps, scanning airbnb and booking.com for suitable and not bank-breaking accommodation rates, then calculating the cost of these pilgrimages……and therein lies the rub…..or should I say months of hard work LOL. Ouch. It’s going to be a lot more expensive than I anticipated…especially the UK pilgrimage.

Accommodation in the UK does NOT come cheap. Unlike the albergues and hostels on the various Camino routes in Spain which cater for pilgrims, the best price I’ve managed to book for the UK is at one of the YHA locations – at ¬£16 for the night, it’s very comparable to the accommodations in Spain.

AirBnB! How did we do without it before? It’s a gem, although not necessarily cheap, you can find some lovely accommodations and I have found a number of very suitable places along The Pilgrim’s Way. I had planned on staying the first 2 nights in Winchester, but after trying various places in Winchester, oh my gosh, talk about exorbitant…..as I said to the one lady I spoke to, I’m walking as a pilgrim, not visiting as a tourist. If I want to pay so much money, I’ll stay at a hotel. Winchester does not come cheap!!

But there it is. So instead I’ve altered my plans and have found some lovely accommodation in Southampton, which is brilliant since Southampton is a famous sailing off point for pilgrims travelling to distant shores; namely the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard Mayflower in 1620, as well as many pilgrims from the UK departing to follow the way of St James in Spain. I’ve wanted to visit Southampton anyway, so this will give me the chance to add a day of exploration to the itinerary and explore the city for a day and there is MUCH to see ūüôā

I’ve booked 9 of 18 nights for the UK….the rest will have to wait while I work some more and save up some more LOL ….the joys of travel. I’ve also booked 7 of 21 days in Spain and plan to make the most of the traditional alburgues and hostels along the routes on a ‘phone ahead and hope for the best plan’.

Besides planning when to start my pilgrimages and how many days to walk each route, I’ve had to do a budget projection right through to end October to ensure I can in fact earn sufficient income to pay for them, as well as calculate exactly how much I can squeeze out of my monthly budgets towards the main aspects of expected expenses; travel, food, accommodation, mementos and of course most importantly travel insurance. It’s going to be a hectic balancing act and my accounting background and love of spreadsheets is coming in well handy LOL

I can barely believe that I’ll finally be walking one of the long-distance pilgrimage routes in the UK. I have already followed Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark to Canterbury and the Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury, but neither of those routes was in excess of 100 miles. I have walked the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago which was 150 miles, so that was quite good…..the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury is 133+ miles and the 3 Camino routes in Spain will equal approx 135 miles. Although neither of them come anywhere close to the Camino Norte which is over 515 miles, and which I’m planning (hoping) to walk in 2019. Whew, wipe the sweat from my brow LOL

There are quite a few websites that I’ve frequented whilst planning these trips and I have found 2 of them to be most useful.

The Pilgrims Way Canterbury http://www.pilgrimswaycanterbury.org/

Confraternity of St James https://www.csj.org.uk/

I also purchased 3 Pilgrim guides that have been a mine of information:

The Pilgrim’s Way; Leigh Hatts – Cicerone

Camino Ingles; Johnnie Walker – Confraternity of St James

Camino Finisterre; Alison Raju – Confraternity of St James

Follow me on instagram as I travel along pilgrimage and others routes in the UK and Europe https://www.instagram.com/notjustagranny/

Quite a few months ago my future son-in-law decided to bake a cake. Now, under normal circumstances there‚Äôs nothing remarkable about that at all‚Ķ.except that he had never before baked a cake ūüôā

The end result was – delicious, albeit somewhat lopsided and needed refinement. In that regard there has been no problem, over the last few months he has progressed in leaps and bounds and now whips up a cake in the blink of an eye‚Ķwith his secret recipe fillings that are to die for. Delicious. I have no problem at all eating as much as possible when I‚Äôm home‚Ķif there‚Äôs any left LOL…his fianc√© quite likes them too!!

After a conversation with my daughter about what he’d like to do with this new-found enthusiasm for baking going forward, I decided that a talent like this needs to be encouraged and nurtured, and so, as an early birthday present, I sent him for cake icing lessons.

After some research on the internet I found a lovely young lass by the name of Billie who has her business in Deal, which is just a short train ride or drive away from home, and so I booked him in for a 3 hour lesson.

The big day came and off they went, my daughter drove them there in Fiona and they made a day of it with her going along to view the proceedings and capture the moments. What fun.

The lesson progressed exceedingly well and the comment I had from Billie is that she thought he’s a natural, was very steady and patient and she couldn’t quite believe he’d never iced a cake before.

The final result‚Ķlooks remarkably like a wedding cake and I wonder if there‚Äôs a future career in that direction ūüėČ I‚Äôm well impressed at the end result. I used to do cake-icing myself in my younger days, and iced and decorated a few wedding cakes as well as sold a great number of occasion cakes, so to see this talent in our little family is marvellous.

So, here’s my future son-in-law; Simon….a possible future Bake Off 2019 contestant!!

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

getting started

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

making excellent progress

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

a future Bake Off contestant in the making

I wonder if I should enrol him? LOL

If you’re wanting to know more about Billie’s cake icing lessons, here is her website

 

Following up on my post from a couple of days ago, these are a few more of my favourite villages in England. The Channel 4 programme, Village of the Year is absolutely fascinating. I shall have to watch them again…get some more ideas of places to go – as if I don’t already have a list longer than I could do in 2 lifetimes…but hey, I might live to be 100….LOL

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East Grinstead, West Sussex

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Farnham, Surrey

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Kennett, Suffolk

Kennett – Domesday Book village

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Kentford, Suffolk

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Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham – Domesday Book village

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Lower Bourne, Surrey

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Marston Magna, Somerset

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Midhurst, Sussex

Midhurst had it all….a castle, a mill, a river, and quintessentially English cottages

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Moulton, Suffolk

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Newton-Ferrers, Devon

Newton-Ferrers is probably in my Top Ten favourite village of England. It was so gorgeous and the views of the river were stunning. At night it was quiet and peaceful with skies so black and stars so bright, you can’t imagine.

Village of the Year

I’ve been following Channel 4’s Village of the Year. There’s been some fantastic places so far, many of which I’ve followed up with the hashtags on instagram and added to my saved folder for villages; future travels….plenty of places, not enough time.

Watching the programme has reminded me of some of the stunning villages I’ve visited in the last 10 years.

When I launched Project 101 proper, I discovered that many of the villages I’ve visited in the past are Domesday Book villages which has been really exciting.

Of the many many places I’ve been, these are some of my favourite villages:

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Blackford, Somerset

Blackford – Domesday Book village

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Braeburn, Kent

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Camelot, Somerset

Seriously amazing views from this spot….well worth the climb. Not sure how accurate the tales of this being the location of Camelot, but it’s fabulous if it was.

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Castle Cary, Somerset

Castle Cary – Domesday Book village

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Cawsands/Kingsands, Cornwall

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Charlton Hawthorne, Somerset

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Chippenham, Somerset

Chippenham – Domesday Book village

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Compton Paucefoot, Somerset

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Corton Denham, Somerset

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Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

Cottenham – Domesday Book village

These are just 10 of my favourite villages…..more to follow shortly. Unfortunately I’m unable to review many of the other places I’ve been since the hard-drive that UPS lost is still….lost!!! Grrr.

Perhaps I should suggest they fund the costs of returning to those places….dream on LOL

Three years ago when we first moved to Broadstairs I had just a tiny inkling of the history of the area known as the Isle of Thanet.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

Formed when sea-levels rose after the last glacial period (around 5000BC), with links to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, at the time of the Romans the Isle of Thanet was an actual island, separated from Kent by the Wantsum channel. This channel allowed ships to sail from the English Channel past Ebbsfleet and gain access to the river Great Stour as far as Canterbury. The Wantsum channel eventually silted up abut 200 years ago which prevented ships from entering it’s waters and eventually it was lost with the last ship sailing through the Channel in 1672; now long covered over and given over to motorways, housing estates, farmlands and wetlands.

isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, braoadstairs, margate

I found this illustration at the Brading Roman fort on the Isle of Wight

However, the history of this fair isle has not been lost and recently links were found to Caesar’s invasion of Britain on a site not far from Ramsgate.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/julius-caesar-invasion-britain-uk-site-evidence-first-discovered-kent-a8081056.html

  • excavated a¬†Roman fort¬†covering up to 49 acres (20¬†ha) at¬†Ebbsfleet, and dated it to around 55‚Äď50¬†BC

Besides Julius Caesar, and the Vikings, another historical figure; St Augustine, landed not far from this very site in AD597 and went on to establish Christianity and an Abbey at Canterbury.

There are a number of very historical towns on the Isle of Thanet, many of which can easily be visited from London. Three of the most notable are;

  1. Ramsgate – has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom; decreed by George VI in 1821, Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor and first came to Ramsgate on 15 August 1823 at the age of four with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, the harbour was a chief embarkation point for the¬†Dunkirk evacuation¬†in 1940 aka ‘Operation Dynamo’, and the town is home to¬†the¬†Shrine of St Augustine.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Ramsgate

  2. Broadstairs – aka the ‘jewel in Thanet’s crown, Broadstairs was orginally known as Bradstow(e), a chapel was built here in 1601 on an earlier religious site, here on 21 June 1815 the captured French Eagle Standard¬†was delivered with the news of Wellington’s victory over¬†Napoleon, Charles Dickens was a regular visitor and stayed at what is now known as ‘Bleak House, and beneath the town is a network of smuggler’s tunnels.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Viking Bay, Broadstairs

  3. Margate – one of the first English seaside resorts, was a “limb” of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports, and their accompanying bays –¬†¬†Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Louisa Bay, Minnis Bay,¬†Palm Bay,¬†Botany Bay,¬†Joss Bay, and Pegwell Bay, is home to oldest building in old ‘Meergate’, the old¬†Tudor House, built in 1525, and the¬†Shell Grotto;¬†an ornate subterranean passageway¬†covered in mosaics created entirely of 4.6 million seashells.

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    Mrs Booth; The Shell Lady of Margate

Villages on the Isle of Thanet are:

  1. Minster – once¬†the “ancient capital of Thanet”, originally started as a¬†monastic¬†settlement in 670 AD, the first abbey in the village was founded by St.¬†Domneva in the late 7th century.
  2. Cliffs End –¬†on the cliff top above Pegwell Bay¬†is a replica of the¬†Viking longship¬†Hugin,¬†it is believed that St Augutine landed nearby at Ebbsfleet in AD597 (a¬†cross in a field on the Way of St Augustine route marks the spot of his landing, on a clear day you can see the northern tip of the French Coast from the clifftop.
  3. St Nicholas-at- Wade Рhome to the 13th-century parish church of St Nicholas, after which the village and parish are named, the first rector is recorded as Adam de Brancestre in 1294.
  4. Sarre –¬†¬†located at the point where the old ‘Island Road’ from Margate to Canterbury crossed the Wantsum channel, the late Roman or early¬†Anglo-Saxon¬†Sarre Brooch¬†was found near the village, is home to the now defunct Sarre Windmill built in 1820.
  5. Birchington-on-Sea –¬†first recorded in 1240 as Birchenton, its parish church, All Saints’, dates to the 13th century, the 19th-century¬†Pre-Raphaelite¬†artist¬†Dante Gabriel Rossetti is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Minnis Bay was once the site of an¬†Iron Age¬†settlement and the village coastline was frequented by 19th century smugglers, and the famous Quex Park and Manor are nearby.

There are of course today a great number of new settlements and villages on the Isle of Thanet, but those listed above are the most notable.

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Tudor House, Margate

You can enjoy many wonderful walks along the cliff tops or vast open beaches along the coastline of the Isle of Thanet, and a walk from Pegwell Bay to Margate Harbour will take you past Ramsgate Harbour, Dumpton Bay, Louisa Bay, Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Botany Bay, Palm Bay and Walpole Bay.

Landmarks and places to see/visit along the way are St Augustine’s Cross near Cliffsend and the Hugin Viking Ship, St Augustine’s Church & The Grange (Augustine Pugin’s house), Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Ramsgate Tunnels, Bleak House and the Dickens Museum, North Foreland Lighthouse, Fort Kings Bay, Kings Bay sea-arch, the White cliffs, chalk¬†stacks at Botany Bay, Turner Contemporary and the Antony Gormley sculpture, the Shell Grotto and the Tudor House.

Kings Bay sea-arch

Kings Bay sea-arch

You will find a number of places to eat or for afternoon tea along the way; my favourite in Ramsgate is Riley’s Cafe, there are a few independent clifftop or beach side cafes that mostly open in summer, and there are the more historic Bleak House and the Old Curiosity Shop in Broadstairs, the Captain Digby Pub in Kingsgate, and the Old Kent Market in Margate.

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Old Kent Market, Margate

as well as a number of smaller restaurants and cafes.

In summer dozens of colourful gaily painted and decorated beach huts line the esplanade along the beaches in Ramsgate, Viking Bay and Stone Bay

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Beach huts in Broadstairs

The Isle of Thanet is a treasure trove of history, interesting places to visit, and a large variety of restaurants to eat at.

Discover some of the many amazing walks on the Isle of Thanet

#100 – walks around the UK

The Way of St Augustine – Day 1

The Way of St Augustine – Day 2

The Way of St Augustine Ramsgate to Canterbury – history

 

 

A few nights ago ITV aired “Britain‚Äôs Favourite Walks: Top 100”, as voted for by more than 8,000 walking enthusiasts. If seeing these walks didn’t convince you that the UK is a most stunning country with every kind of landscape and terrain you could wish for or imagine…then you weren’t watching ūüėČ

I had initially tuned in to BBC1 to watch Winterwatch so only changed channels part of the way through; wow, what fantastic walks and the scenery is astounding and breath-taking. Watching snippets of all these fantastic places made me want to set off immediately with Pepe and Gemini and just walk….never mind walk 1000 miles, I could quite easily just walk forever.

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my trusty companions; Pepe (backpack) and Gemini (Nordic walking poles) – 10.166 km to Santiago

To my delight, after gasping with envy and drooling my way through the last 50 or so walks, after the programme ended I clicked through to one of the links provided on twitter and was astonished and delighted to note that #100 featured The Stacks near Margate….after closer investigation, I found that not only is this a walk I’ve done dozens of times, but the day before the show aired I had in fact walked from Broadstairs to Ramsgate and onto Cliffs End a couple of days before and I had walked from Broadstairs to Margate just the day before ūüôā¬†http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

My first question is how did I miss them filming this? And why didn’t they just ask me? LOL I could have told them all about this walk…one of my favourites!!

I frequently use both those routes for my Camino practice walks, they’re manageable distances and the scenery is absolutely stunning; it never gets boring.

Starting off from Broadstairs Harbour, I either turn right and walk to Ramsgate and Cliffsend or left and walk to Margate.

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a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

On a good day and if the tide is out, there is nothing better than striding along the beach from Viking Bay, past Louisa Bay, Dumpton Gap and onto Ramgate Royal Harbour. If the tide is in then I walk along the concrete promenade from Viking Bay to Dumpton Gap, then up to the cliff tops and walk through King George VI Memorial Park then down the steps leading to the promenade, past the Ramsgate Tunnels and onto Ramsgate Harbour.

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Dumpton Gap – clifftop walk when the tide is in

Sometimes I walk further onto Cliffsend where you can see the Hugin Viking Ship and from there it’s a short walk down to Pegwell Bay.

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Ramsgate to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay

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The Hugin Viking Ship, Cliffsend

If I’m planning a walk to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay, then I usually stop off at Rileys in Ramsgate first for a hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows for sustenance.

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Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows at Riley’s

If I decide to walk to Margate there are two options:

a) if the tide is out, from Viking Bay I walk along the beach to the far end of Stone Bay, up the steps to Stone Road, turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay where I again descend to the beach and round the cliffs to Kingsgate Bay (you can walk along the beach but this particular area is very rocky and I don’t enjoy walking across this section). On the top of the cliffs at Kingsgate Bay is the Captain Digby Pub where I always stop for a pot of tea on the terrace. From there I head back down to the beach and walk through or around the Kingsbay Sea Arch and past the Stacks to Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. Always be aware of the tidal times….the tides come in very fast along these stretches.

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Broadstairs to Margate

b) if the tide is in I walk along the promenade from Viking Bay to Stone Bay, up the steps to the cliff tops turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay and instead of descending to the beach I follow the pedestrian path next to the golf course, then cross over the road where it ends and follow the road past the Kingsgate Castle complex and along the cliff top to the Captain Digby Pub, then follow the path across the cliff top alongside the golf course, past the folly ‘Fort Kings Bay’ to Botany Bay, and staying on the cliff tops I follow the pedestrian path past¬†Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. The views are fantastic and on a clear day up until Joss Bay you can right across the English Channel to Belgium, and once you round the corner and head north you can see across estuary of the River Thames to Essex. Once your’e in Margate you can see as far as Reculver, and if you time it right, you can see some of the most magnificent sunsets.

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Sunset at Margate

If you happen to walk along the beach as you near Margate, there is the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

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the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

Those are two of my favourite walks on the Isle of Thanet.

I’ve also walked to Sandwich during my Camino 2017 training

my camino; the journey so far

28.06.2016 Broadstairs to Sandwich

and completed the Way of St Augustine in July 2017

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

I travel quite comprehensively around the UK and make the most of my travels to walk in new areas…..follow me on instagram for images from around the UK.

For more about Britain’s favourite walks¬†http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

and as they say on their website:¬†Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright says¬†‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing‚ÄĚ.

 

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