Location: Cliff Promenade
Walk: 4.67m (7.5km). Long.
Keeper: Paul Hazelton
Note: From Viking Bay to Walpole Bay you can cycle the Viking Coastal
A misguided walk from Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs to the Walpole
Bay Hotel & Living Museum, Cliftonville (a popular destination for
artists of all persuasions). Venture left as you set out from the Dickens
Museum. Stick close to the coast and you can’t go wrong. Take
a slow meander along the gently rollercoastering coastline, which peaks
at various points such as at Bleak House, North Foreland Lighthouse,
Kingsgate Castle, The Captain Digby and Foreness Point, and dips occasionally
into the various bays – Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Botany
Bay and Walpole Bay.
Each bay is a treasure trove shaped by erosion and weathering. Some,
such as Joss and Botany Bay, are also shaped by a history of smuggling,
tunnelling deep into the chalk cliffs and one’s imagination as
the tunnels are no longer accessible, but still exist beneath Thanet
like a forgotten underworld.
Joss Bay opens up like the mouth of a serpent as the cliff drops to
almost sea level from Kent's most easterly point, North Foreland. Taking
a slight detour, turn into the private estate opposite the lighthouse
and follow Crescent Road into Cliff Promenade. Opposite St. Cuby Villa
you will discover, obscured by bushes, a set of tunnelled stairways
leading down to the beach (although public access is prohibited by a
locked gate). These tunnelled stairways inspired John Buchan to write
The Thirty Nine Steps. The letterbox is near the gate.
A fair walk further along the coast you will find the famous Walpole
Bay Hotel. Sometimes we do not get to our intended destination and from
here thirty-nine steps could take you in any direction.