It was a sizzling day, just perfect for a day at the beach, so off we headed to sunny Kent.
Botany Bay had been on my destination list for some time and with its award winning beaches and stunning white cliffs it’s a perfect family destination. The cliffs were the highlight of our trip and once we had discovered the smugglers caves, we just had to explore them.
Smugglers were very ripe around these waters and most highly mentioned in the history of the area is Joss Snelling’s gang, the Callis Court gang and the “battle of Botany Bay” in spring 1769. Joss Snelling and his notorious gang had been bringing contraband up from the beach when they were spotted by a revenue patrol, a battle ensued that left several smugglers mortally wounded and a local riding officer shot by one of the gang members, possibly Joss Snelling. There are a few accounts of the Botany Bay battle, but in all cases it was a bloody and deadly battle.
Botany Bay beach could easily be mistaken for somewhere more exotic on a scorching sunny day, the waters are clear and clean and with the blue skies reflecting in the water that laps against the chalky white cliffs it’s almost dazzling.
All along Botany Bay and indeed along the next bay, Kingsgate bay are more little coves and caves, some natural and others manmade for stashing smuggler’s contraband.
One of the old smugglers tunnels has since been bricked over, it used to split into two tunnels which went through the cliffs to the next bay. The bricked over entrance can still be seen at the smugglers steps. There is also a ghost story attached to the smuggler’s steps which tells of a haunting; sightings of a hunched over man dressed in 18th century clothing walking down these steps carrying a lantern and holding a staff.
At low tide Botany Bay is a perfect place to go rock pool dipping with the kids, the receding waters reveal lovely little pools and seaweed along the bay. The water is so clear that it’s a fun place to paddle and explore as I did on my visit.
There is lifeguard on duty during the main part of the day in peak seasons and restriction to dogs on the beach. Keep an eye on the tide too as it is possible to get cut off if you drop your guard and get carried away exploring. We arrived at the beach as the tide was beginning to turn. The soft golden sands are perfect for barefoot walks and sandcastle building, I didn’t do any sandcastle building but instead enjoyed a good old barefoot stroll.
On my next visit I plan to explore the adjoining bays such as Kingsgate Bay which is dominated by Kingsgate Castle that looks over the beach. Kingsgate Castle was built in 1650 by General Henry Fox.
In later years from 1913 Kingsgate Castle was converted to a hotel where well known rich and famous characters such as Peggy Ashcroft, John Mills, Constance Cummings and John Buchan came to relax. Kingsgate Castle is now a residential apartment complex. I feel the castle certainly gives the bay some rich history and good looks.
I’m sure that I’ll be returning again to this gem for more adventure and exploration. My biggest adventure of the day was exploring The Seven Sisters Caves, as they are known locally (even though there appears to be only 5 of them,) and a real giggle to explore since the only way to move into each chamber is by army crawl! The caves are interconnecting and reach up to the top of the cliffs. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Botany Bay in Kent and so did my family, I came home and did my homework and hopefully along with my photographic diary of the day at the bay, I might give you some insight to this inspirational spot on the Kent coast.