Discovering the delights of North Kent. Canterbury, Herne Bay & Whitstable

,Neither of us is actually too well this week.  Calv doesn’t seem to have shifted the cold he caught whilst in Ibiza, and I have definitely now caught it.

Despite this though we have loved our time back in Kent 🙂

We didn’t book anything before arriving but had a couple of sites in mind.  Arriving at the 1st, at the end of a long narrow lane, we found the site deserted and nobody around or answering the phone.  As there was nothing really giving us any reason to be desperate to stay we headed back to our 2nd choice, Hampton Bay, here in Herne Bay.  The SatNav took us  to the wrong place (into a private housing estate with very narrow, unadopted roads – not suitable really for the van – we had already unhooked the car, luckily).  So we asked a postman who pointed us in the right direction and off we set (just in the van).  What a lovely find!  (I will be posting a review later).

Once settled we walked back to collect the car, and ended up exploring along the Herne seafront.  Debbie, I found this picture of Edmund Reid (Whitechapel) – I didn’t realise he was real!!  It looks like he retired to Herne Bay 🙂

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The main photo is of one of the pebble, driftwood and shell sculptures that we found further up the promenade – they were really rather lovely.

We continued up the coast towards the towers that we had seen from the main road.  This turned out to be the Reculver Towers and Roman fort.  This is another English Heritage managed, free to see, site and the information boards are fascinating.  We found out that there used to be a waterway, the Wantsum channel, separating this area from Margate etc. (hence the Isle of Thanet) and also that the fort stretched out into what is now sea.  So the river silted up for hundreds of metres 1 way, and the sea took over the other way.  The church that was on the site was actually built using stone from the old roman fort; then when the church collapsed the towers were rebuilt as a navigation aid.

On Friday we headed back to Canterbury to see some more of the city and visit the cathedral.  We parked in the station car park, and therefore entered the city through the West Gate, and a new perspective.  This brought us onto the High Street and past Pound Street (where any horses unclaimed at 9pm after being allowed into the city to clear rubbish were kept).  As it happened it wasn’t too long before we joined up with where we had previously entered the High Street, but we did see many more ancient buildings.

It turns out that the cathedral IS worth the £12 entrance fee.  It was unfortunate though that we couldn’t see the majestic sweep of the roof in the North Transept due to the scaffolding that is necessary for the repairs currently being undertaken.

The cathedral is absolutely huge with several distinct areas to explore.  I was surprised at the size of the crypt, as well as the fact that it was actually quite light down there and there were stained glass windows providing this light.   We had to be out by 1pm though as there was a wedding ceremony in this area.

Having visited the martyrdom where Thomas a Beckett was murdered by 4 knights we headed out into the cloisters (don’t forget to look up) and then into the Chapter House for an awestruck moment as we entered and saw the ceiling and the stained glass window ahead of us.

Then we moved outside and found the monastery remains in the grounds.

After leaving the cathedral we popped into a nearby café, the Canteen, for some lunch.  This was a lovely space in a very old building – we sat upstairs (narrow and rickety as they were 🙂 ).

We then headed back the way we’d come to visit the Hospital of St Thomas.  This cost just £2 each and there were 2 guides available who were a font of information.  For instance, I didn’t know that the word hospital originated from ‘hospitality’ (although, it’s fairly obvious when you know..) and therefore originally ‘hospitals’ were not created for treating the sick, merely for providing hospitality – in this case to the 1000s of pilgrims who visited Canterbury in the hope of receiving a miracle (there were many hospitals and inns in Canterbury).

There are still several ‘Inndwellers’ living in flats in this hospital (similar to an almshouse).

There was a 2nd chapel on the ground floor which we were told was bricked up for over 400 years.  On being discovered the floor was 7 foot below the current floor level, so the door that is currently there was far larger originally.  There was also a tunnel discovered that ran the length of the undercroft (where the pilgrims were given a bed).

The final bit of information we were given was that an exorcism had to be performed on the chapel before workmen would return, and apparently it was rather lively!

We returned to the car via the Westgate gardens where we saw this huge tree!  Then we spotted the signal box over the rail lines 🙂

On Saturday we cycled along the seafront cycle path to Whitstable.  This is a very pleasant, and flat, ride.  There are lots of beach huts along the way – 100s! It was lovely to see a 50th birthday party being hosted from 1 of them!

As you can imagine there are lots of oyster and lobster cafes and restaurants in Whitstable, and mounds of oyster shells are dotted around.

The old harbour sports several stalls selling arts, crafts and foodstuffs and made for a pleasant wander.  Further along there are several converted fisherman’s huts that are available for rent.

There also used to be 5 shipbuilders in Whitstable, although we didn’t see any evidence of these (however, we hadn’t been looking as we didn’t know to!)

We also discovered Whitstable Castle, which isn’t really a castle but a 19th century house.  It does now house a rather nice tearoom 🙂

We were pleasantly surprised by Whitstable and would definitely return – The Lobster Shack, in particular, looked rather nice.

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Author: MandoraTheExplorer

I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)

4 thoughts on “Discovering the delights of North Kent. Canterbury, Herne Bay & Whitstable”

  1. Debbie here – fascinating to see a picture of Edmund Reid, and what a lovely part of the world Kent is, you have made me want to visit xx

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    1. It’s worth persevering Chris. However we came up past gatwick and had no issues. We did hit a bit a couple of days ago, but that was at rush hour (which we can avoid atm!) And it served us right for going to the Isle of sheppey!!

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