London has so much to offer, but Londoners of course don’t spend all their time in the capital. Why not consider a village weekend away?
If you are like me and love the seaside, the little town of Whitstable in Kent is a great weekend break and just and hour-and-a-half from London. Whitstable is like no other town by the sea. Its traditional charms, strong arts culture and rich maritime history complement its modern appeal. The town is best known for its oysters, which have been collected in the area since Roman times and are celebrated at the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival, running this year between 27 and 29 July 2019.
In 1480 Whitstable acquired a fish market in St Margaret’s Street, a tradition that lasted until the mid-19th century. The town’s connection with the sea extends to water sports, and the annual waterskiing championships take place during the summer.
The beach road is lined with beach huts, creating a wonderfully family-orientated atmosphere while the high street is lively, with a quirky selection of small shops.
WHAT TO DO
As you walk along the Whitstable front you will come to grassy banks that gently slope down to Tankerton beach, characterised by pretty, wooden beach huts and an established sailing club.
Whitstable beach is one of the very few in the country that still has a pub on it. With its pebbles and groynes, this unspoilt shoreline will make you reminisce. Choose to swim, stroll or sit and enjoy the stunning sunsets on this popular beach.
Activities in the harbour include fishing and commercial shipping; a range of restaurants and cafés; shellfish and fish sales; sailing barge trips, wind farm operations storage facilities and the opportunity to rent your very own beach hut.
Whitstable Castle (whitstablecastle.co.uk) is an 18th-century estate within walking distance of the town centre. Dating back to the 1790s, the castle and gardens have been home to local merchants and dignitaries, remaining a landmark attraction over the years. It is a ‘must see’ for everyone visiting the town. The castle’s tearoom is very popular, so be sure to reserve a table ahead of time if you don’t want to miss out on afternoon tea.
And if you’re visiting, why not bring your bike? You could try out the Crab and Winkle Way to Canterbury, a beautiful six- mile ride through the Kentish countryside. Cycling Kent Cycle Hire (kentcyclehire.com) will allow you to leave your bike at one of their shops in Herne Bay or Canterbury, so you could visit Canterbury Cathedral and other sights.
WHERE TO STAY?
It is perfectly possibly to spend the weekend in a beach hut. Alternatively, the town centre is five minutes away and there is also the option of the Hotel Continental on the seafront, where rooms start from £75/night. www.hotelcontinental.co.uk
WHERE TO EAT?
A top recommendation is Wheelers Oyster (www.wheelersoysterbar.com), situated in a pink Victoria building beyond all the shops on the high street, which has been selling sea food since 1856.
The Whitstable Oyster Company (01227 276856; whitstableoystercompany.com), an alternative, describes itself as the village’s oldest with origins it can trace back to the 1400. Indeed, it is one of the oldest companies in Europe and has a long, rich history of farming the famous Royal Whitstable native oyster. The restaurant serves mouth-watering oyster and lobster with an incredible sea view.