Footpaths of Thanet
88 Pages A5
Doing my chore of putting the books on the website, as I am today, I won't pretend that I can put a couple of pages of Bob's up and have them look like they do in the book. The computer and I have a sort of hate, hate relationship when it comes to that sort of thing, I cant- for instance, get the programme to work in inches, this however should give you a flavour of the thing.
This is a book for those who -
- like to get around without having to use the car,
- take pleasure in seeing their surroundings from a different point of view,
- enjoy discovering unfamiliar parts of East Kent,
- sometimes want to get away from all the noise and the traffic, and take a wander down a leafy lane,
- get a kick out of finding themselves somewhere they least expected,
- prefer to go and come back by different routes,
- or just like walking for the sheer pleasure of it.
With lots of information about the network of footpaths, alleyways and leafy lanes that cover the Isle of Thanet, it will enable you to do seemingly eccentric things - like walk to Westwood Cross avoiding the traffic, get up close and personal with the planes at Manston airport, or find pleasant ways to cut quickly across deadly-dull housing estates.
In a former life Bob Simmonds has been a counsellor, social worker, Vicar, and bookseller. He has also had a go at writing articles about walks for a local newspaper, and leading walking holidays in - of all places -
1 Broadstairs and Margate 1
2 Broadstairs and Ramsgate 11
3 Broadstairs and Westwood Cross 19
4 Broadstairs, Kingsgate and Northdown Park 27
5 Ramsgate and Pegwell Bay 37
6 Ramsgate and Manston 45
7 Dreamland to Dandelion, and back along a dale 51
8 High plains drifting 61
9 A drinker's detour to Dumpton's Brown Jug 69
10 Beaches, promenades and parks 72
11 Useful shorter paths and alleys 74
It has to be said that the Isle of Thanet doesn't readily come to mind when thinking about the delights of footpath walking in Kent. To the casual visitor, (and indeed to the long-term resident - I have known the place for over 50 years,) the cabbage-patch connected conurbation of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs seems to be so covered by roads, roundabouts, bungalows, housing estates and shopping centres that there can hardly be any room left for footpaths and leafy lanes.
However, a need to shed some excess weight, and the aching boredom of unwanted redundancy, caused me to take a closer look at my Ordnance Survey map of the area. Could I fight the flab by walking, instead of driving the car or catching the bus? Did I always have to walk along congested and fume-filled roads? Were there ways of seeing the area other than from just the road or the railway? Did its country life contain more than crowds of countless cabbages?
As I perused the map, and pottered along the paths, I discovered a whole network of footpaths across Thanet that, when linked together by a careful use of backstreets and lanes, enabled me to get almost anywhere I wanted. Not only that, but many of these paths were very pleasant to use, gave an unusual view of the area, or were themselves steeped in character or history.
In this booklet I suggest how these footpaths can be used, either as a free and healthy means of getting around, or as a pleasant way to explore the island. As I live in Broadstairs, that is where many of them start, but they can just as easily be walked in the other direction. And, no, you don't need a rucksack or hiking boots to walk them, as Thanet is relatively flat, and you are never more than ten minutes from a Tesco's.
Some of the routes are not shown as being 'Public rights of way' on OS maps, although they are either obviously used as such - or should be. It's worth remembering that most 'rights of way' only became such because people used them. With the great loss of 'legal' footpaths because they no longer have any obvious use, or because they have been built on, it would be good to have a few new ones listed which served a useful purpose - like getting from A to B, or enjoying what's left of the countryside.
I have mentioned places to eat and drink etc. where I feel that they may be necessary, and have included bus routes where they can be of help in route planning, a change in the weather, or tiredness.
Inevitably today's leafy footpath often gets concreted over to become part of tomorrow's bye-pass or cycle track, and so some things may change. However, the great thing about Michael's Bookshop publications is that they can be up-dated with each new printing.
Let them know if you see a change.
Thanet's network of convenient, attractive, and sometimes ancient and leafy footpaths, are, like much in life, something which can easily be lost if not used. As the island's roads become more and more congested, and as the need for exercise and relaxation increases, these free green(ish) corridors through our towns and estates, our factories and farms, become increasingly important.
Some have already been lost to the increasingly powerful cycle lobby, and converted into national cycle routes. Others are in danger of being built upon or just getting overgrown.
If more people used the paths, those in power might be persuaded to keep them in better order, clear away the fly-tipped rubbish, and provide ways of getting from the end of one to the beginning of another without having to walk along a busy main road.
Oh yes, one last word. Where walking is concerned, where two or three are gathered it is much better than when there are twenty or more. So much damage has been done to the cause of walking by those great rambling and rumbling groups that tramp across hill and dale talking at the tops of their voices and disturbing all the wildlife.
Use your intelligence, this book and a map! Declare your independence and organise your own walks. Its much more interesting, you don't have to wait at stiles…and you get served quicker in the pubs and cafes!
BROADSTAIRS and MARGATE
This is perhaps the most useful - and at its Broadstairs end, one of the most enjoyable - of the Thanet paths. It is a direct, easy to walk route between the two towns, involves hardly any busy road walking, has both the attractive leafy section through St. Peter's churchyard and the wide open spaces beyond, and follows the ancient path between the two 12th. Century churches.
From Broadstairs station to Cecil Square it is a distance of approx. 3.5 miles.
At the end of the approach road to Broadstairs station an iron kissing-gate marks the beginning of a long and leafy footpath.
This runs along the edge of the recreation ground (from which it can be met), and behind some houses, before reaching the end of Bradstow Way. Here it widens into a recently surfaced track which comes out