We were looking for a local picturesque walk, that was quiet and peaceful, and this was just the ticket. We packed up a picnic lunch and a flask of tea and headed out to explore the Saxon Shore Way.
The Saxon Shore Way is a path which starts at Gravesend in Kent and runs right through to Hastings in East Sussex. It is approximately 163 miles long in total and it follows the coastal path around the South East of the UK, as it was 1500 years ago.
The walk apparently gets its name “The Saxon Shore” from a line of forts that were built along the coast, from around the 3rd Century AD, near the end of the Roman period. The forts were built by the Romans to protect themselves against invaders.
We started our walk in Seasalter by the award winning Gastropub, The Sportsman. The Sportsman is one of the best Gastropubs in the UK. In 2016 it topped the National Restaurants Awards and has topped the top 50 Gastropubs list most years from 2015 – 2019. It has also held a Michelin Star since 2008 for it’s beautifully cooked food, which is gathered mostly from the land surrounding the pub and locally sourced produce.
We walked around the pub and up along the path by the seawall and past the beach houses lining the shore. The beach in Seasalter is mostly made up of stones and shells washed in by the tide. Scattered around you can see oyster shells as Whitstable is famed for its native Oysters.
Whitstable pacific oysters are cultivated and sustainably harvested by hand, in the inter-tidal waters in Whitstable Bay. They are a local delicacy and can be enjoyed in many restaurants and stalls in town with a squeeze of lemon, a splash of tabasco sauce or even beer battered.
As you walk through to Graveney the beach becomes more marshy and more like a wilderness and is so peaceful.
We walked along taking in the stunning views. There are lots of gates along the way to keep the local sheep contained.
The land here is predominantly marshes and these run from Seasalter to Graveney right through to Faversham. They are home to many varieties of birds and wildlife.
Seasalter is a village between the towns of Whitstable and Faversham. On a clear day walking along the Seasalter path you can see the Isle of Sheppey across the estuary of the River Swale. Between Seasalter and Faversham is the small village of Graveney, which is mostly rural.
The marshes here were the location of The Battle of Graveney Marsh in 1940. The battle was fought between the crew of a German Junker plane which had been shot down and had landed in the marshes, and a detachment of soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the London Irish Rifles who were stationed in Seasalter at the time. Fighter pilots in the war, were told to try and shoot down the enemy’s planes, but to try and keep them intact so that they could be examined for intelligence purposes. The German crew of this aircraft all survived the crash and tried to defend their aircraft but after a short shootout, surrendered and were taken to the Sportsman pub and by all accounts given a few pints !! The captured aircraft was then taken for examination and it was said to have “provided highly valuable information”. There is a commemorative plaque at The Sportsman celebrating this event which was unveiled in 2010 by the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association.
Further along the path we came to the Castle Coote Bird Sanctuary which is home to thousands of wildfowl and waders in the winter and some spectacular plants in summer, including Yellow Horned- Poppies, Golden Samphire, Sea Lavender and Sea-Purslane. In the summer months keen birdwatchers will be able to see Skylarks, Reed Warblers, Breeding Redshanks, Bearded Reedlings and Marsh Harriers. In the winter months the mudflats are full of shellfish and worms and this attracts vast numbers of birds, amongst which are Wigeon and Brent Geese which eat the eelgrass which grows in the shallows of the sea.
You may also be able to spot Short-Eared Owls, Hen Harries and Merlins.
It really is a beautiful part of the Kent Coast. Stunning views and it is abundant with local wildlife including marsh reared lambs and sheep.
Looking across out to sea you can see the Isle of Sheppey and further out to sea the modern Wind Farms.
It’s quite a long walk with breathtaking views. Don’t forget to take your camera and wise to take a picnic and a flask of tea. Good walking shoes are a must, as the ground is uneven and may be slippery in the winter months and it’s very exposed, so wrap up accordingly.
It’s a beautiful part of the Kent Coast and well worth a visit.