Londoners have been escaping to the Isle of Thanet for more that 200 years … for the laidback seaside vibe … breathtaking sandy beaches … fresh sea air … and romantic Turner skies …
Here at the very edge of the Garden of England, three Georgian and Victorian resorts, each with its own distinctive character – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate – cluster around the bays at the far end of the peninsula.
There’s a retro feel to these harbour towns, with their remarkable 18th and 19th century architecture, their classic seaside heritage and kitsch, their eclectic attractions and live arts and music venues. And there is a variety of independent places to shop, eat, drink and stay.
Miles of low chalk cliffs edge the peninsula, sheltering a string of secluded, unspoilt sandy bays. Chalk rockpools, chalk stacks and rare chalk reefs teem with wildlife. These are the closest surfing beaches to the capital city: a popular choice with southeast boarders.
Artists, writers and musicians have long been inspired by this almost-island … and continue to be drawn here. Turner said Thanet had “the loveliest skies in all Europe” … for Dickens, Broadstairs was “the freshest, freest place” … and Tracey Emin declares in pink neon on Margate seafront: “I never stopped loving you”.
The Isle’s a historic landing place steeped in symbolism for the story of Britain …the first Saxons, Hengist and Horsa, arrived and settled here … and St Augustine first stepped onto these shores on his way to nearby Canterbury.
For this is the furthest south east you can go in Britain … almost touching mainland Europe … yet these days only 75 minutes from central London …
And now with the Turner Contemporary gallery and high-speed trains from the capital … a new generation is discovering this original seaside escape.