15.10.2016 - General
Kent formed a significant part of the Viking invasion plans and Thanet proved to be of particular appeal; with tactical access to Canterbury and Rochester. As such, in 850 Vikings wintered in Thanet, in 851King Athelstan defeated the Vikings at Sandwich but by 865 Vikings controlled much of Eastern Kent. The legacy of the Viking invasion is a feature of Thanet and gives name to the best way to explore the area; The Viking Trail.
The Viking Trail is a 32 mile (51.4km) route around the coast of Thanet from Reculver to Sandwich Bay. It is a trail popular with hikers and cyclists of all abilities but can also be used for planning your activity during your stay in the area.
This part of Kent is blessed with a dynamic coastline featuring sandy beaches, an expansive sea wall, outcropping cliffs, exposed foreland, and sites of special scientific interest. The Viking Trail takes in Margate, Cliftonville, The North Foreland, St Peters, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
If you could put a needle on a map to find the best place to start and finish The Viking Trail then it would probably land on Quex Park.
Quex Park is perfectly situated to explore the full expanse of Thanet; 10 minutes one end you have the sandy beaches of Minnis Bay in Birchington on Sea (where you can join the trail to Reculver) or head 10 minutes the other direction to Pegwell Bay between Ramsgate and Sandwich and join the trail there all the way round to Reculver.
Those of you who like a challenge will love cycling it in one go, or spreading a walk over several days, but the coastal trail is a great way of exploring Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate at the same time as exercising, with plenty of places of interest to visit over your stay.
From Quex Park you really are at the centre of everything. Margate is only 3 miles away; there you will find Turner Contemporary, The Shell Grotto and Dreamland. Other than the well-publicised Turner Contemporary and Dreamland, The Shell Grotto is a great place to go. Hidden in the back streets of Margate, the rather innocuous entrance leads down into a crypt where the tunnel walls and rooms are adorned with over 4 million shells creating fascinating artwork. The Grotto is shrouded in mystery as no-one knows its origins. Mysterious!
Just 5 miles from Quex you will find Broadstairs, a vibrant town with much to do and see. If you are planning a visit to Thanet in August then look out for Broadstairs Folk Week, which is a lively affair. In October, Broadstairs also has a three day Food Festival.
A highlight of Broadstairs, other than the beach, is Dickens House Museum that celebrates Dickens’ connection with the town.
Ramsgate is only 7 miles away and a bustling town with a beautiful marina skirted with bars and restaurants. The town itself also has some hidden gems to visit. The Ramsgate Tunnels is certainly a must for history enthusiasts. Built as a bomb proof shelter in preparation for World War II the tunnels became much, much more than that.
Surrounding Ramsgate, towards Sandwich, we venture farther back in time; firstly to the Viking Ship ‘Hugin’ at Pegwell Bay which is also a great picnic area and the beach there is a particularly important site of scientific interest. Then heading home to Quex Park you may want to take in St Augustine’s Cross or have a drive through Minster and Monkton villages; both of which have some places of interest; Minster Abbey and Monkton Nature Reserve.