Following the Thanet Coastal Path is a unique experience following the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk coastline in the country – and covers the extensive Blue Flag beaches and wealth of coastal and marine wildlife included within the North East Kent Marine Protected Area.
This route was set up during the late 1990s as a great way of walking and with interpretation of the natural history of the coastline – with a number of interpretation panels that can still be found along the route. For example, West Bay, Westgate (PDF, 853KB)
ThanetCoastalPath1A – Front/Back (212KB)
In many places, the coastal path has been upgraded as part of a longer Viking Coastal Trail (32 miles) that roughly encircles the former Isle of Thanet from the coast (Reculver to Pegwell Bay), to the inland villages of Minster, Monkton and St Nicholas-at-Wade.
In 2016, the new England Coast Path (ECP) from Camber to Ramsgate was launched, as part of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009. This follows much of the above coastal route as it becomes established around South East England as part of this new national route that follows 2,700 miles of coastline. There is video drone footage of this section at: Folkestone to Ramsgate (2016). Access Restrictions – Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR (PDF, 934KB – including Thanet’s Dog Control PSPO amendments) covering the mudflats, saltmarsh, upper chalk and beach.
In 2023, the Ramsgate to Whitstable opened (original consultation 2015) on 25 October. This route links Thanet’s award winning bays, scenic views and marine protected area around the North East Kent coast. The 25 mile section of the walking route covers the 19 miles around the Isle of Thanet with its longest stretch of coastal chalk in Britain, which is all a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the North East Kent Marine Protected Area – one of the best sites in Europe for wintering birds, chalk reef and its marine life. This includes small Turnstone awareness roundels (2023). You can read more at: Thanet Coast Project facebook post, and Natural England’s press release (24 October 2023)
England Coastal Path: route description
King Charles III England Coast Path (website)
More information: Thanet Coastal Path, Pegwell Bay & England Coast Path
Take a walk and explore Thanet’s coast and heritage. Start in Margate, one of the oldest seaside resorts in the country. Stroll along the seafront and explore the old town and museum housed in the town’s goal.
The influence of Charles Dickens can be seen throughout the town of Broadstairs. Rest awhile and enjoy a light lunch, then take time to investigate the many shops offering ‘olde curiosities’.
Continue on to Ramsgate, the only royal harbour in Britain, at the heart of this maritime resort. Famous in history for its warm welcome, Ramsgate still boasts a wide variety of hostelries and eating houses in which to enjoy your evening meal overlooking the harbour.
Thanet also provides an excellent base for touring Kent, with a warm, friendly welcome at the many hotels, guest houses and self-catering establishments, all at very reasonable prices. There is good access to the rest of Kent
The Thanet Coast Path is detailed on the Ordnance Survey Explorer series (map 150 Canterbury and Isle of Thanet). It was originally funded by European Regional Development Fund and researched by Kent Wildlife Trust for Thanet District Council.
The Thanet Coast, together with Pegwell Bay is an internationally important asset for wintering birds, the marine life associated with chalk caves, reefs and sandy bays. The area has numerous nature conservation designation.
Take a stroll to view our impressive coastal bird life in the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve (NNR) but please avoid walking on the mudflats and saltmarsh to give them the space to rest & feed. Access is available along the cliff top (part of the England Coast Path) or for ‘dogs on lead’ along the chalk near the base of the cliff at low tide; or within the Pegwell Country Park or Viking Ship Picnic area.
Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR leaflet – Cover 1a (PDF, 1,291KB) – note: access restrictions have been updated as below 2023
Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR leaflet- Cover 1b (PDF, 1,202KB)
Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR leaflet – inside (PDF, 3,973KB)
Information: Sandwich & Pegwell Bay – birds (NE/ECP PDF, 1,583KB)
NOTE: Access Restrictions 2023 – Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR (PDF, 934KB)
King Charles III England Coast Path – description from Ramsgate to Whitstable (opened 25 October 2023)
This stretch starts in the seaside town of Ramsgate, which has the UKs only royal harbour, and the UKs largest network of civilian wartime tunnels. The trail takes you past the entrance to the tunnels as you walk beside Ramsgate Main Sands.
Up to the clifftop via the Grade II listed cliff stairs, you pass beautiful rock gardens. Through King George VI Memorial Park sees the 19th century Italianate Glasshouse and tearoom. Here you will hear the ring-necked parakeets.
The chalk clifftop to Broadstairs is part of the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk in Britain. Here you can see France across the channel on a clear day.
At Broadstairs, you pass the promenade overlooking popular Viking Bay and go downhill towards the harbour. Here you will see Bleak House, Charles Dickenss holiday home, sitting above the clifftop. At Broadstairs Harbour, you will spot turnstones, a bird well known to this part of the coast, which return each winter.
Carrying along the undercliff promenade beside Stone Bay beach, the trail goes up to the clifftop again. Stone Bay beach is one of the Isle of Thanets 10 award winning beaches.
Walk along the clifftop and you will see the lighthouse built in 1691 as you near Joss Bay. There is a new footpath as you reach Kingsgate, and you will see Kingsgate Castle and Kingsgate Bay with its majestic chalk arch.
The path then follows the clifftops towards Botany Bay, famous for its chalk stacks.
The path continues to Margate, one of the old seaside resorts in the country and home to the Turner Contemporary gallery. You pass one of the oldest-surviving amusement parks in the country which features a Grade II* listed wooden rollercoaster.
The trail passes quieter sandy beaches at Westgate and Birchington and then follows the Northern Sea Wall. This stretch is flat, bordered by shingle beach and grazing marsh. You can see coastal and marshland birds including marsh harriers.
New fencing around the saline lagoons next to the sea wall now provides safer nesting and roosting spaces for birds. These include avocet and ringed plover. New information panels help identify the wildlife. You then you go past Reculver Towers, one of the earliest Roman forts built against Saxon raids.
The path between Reculver Country Park and Herne Bay follows clifftop grassland, providing spectacular views out to sea. You can see sand martins that nest in the holes in the cliffs at Bishopstone, flying above the path. Herne Bay (credit: Explore Kent)
The trail then reaches Herne Bay with its historic pier, picturesque seafront, and 80 foot Victorian clock tower. Continuing past Tankerton, and the pretty multi-coloured beach huts, you arrive at Whitstable. This is a picturesque seaside town, famous for its oysters.