10 reasons to love Hythe & New Romney
PUBLISHED: 11:59 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:48 12 June 2018
The landscape of the Romney Marsh is so distinctive it's been called the fifth continent
1. Unique space
Set between rolling hills and the coast, the Romney Marsh is 100 square miles, sparsely populated and flat. Known for its natural beauty, huge skies, diverse habitats and rich history, it is loved by walkers, nature lovers and bird spotters. Explore saltmarshes, farmland, dykes, coastline, beaches and salt lagoons then head for wild Dungeness, the shingle headland at the southern tip of the marsh that has inspired writers, photographers and painters.
2. Ride the rails
The trains are a little smaller than usual at the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, which has the world’s most complete collection of one-third size locomotives. Crossing the Romney Marsh, with stations from Hythe to Dungeness, you can hop off and explore the stops along the way. There’s a special Paddington weekend on 23-24 June, www.rhdr.org.uk
3. Eat and drink
The area is known for its food and drink, including Romney Marsh lamb and abundant fresh fish. Eat out at The Red Lion, Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant, The Hythe Brasserie, Coppers, Truly Scrumptious café, Torbay of Hythe and Indian fusion restaurant The Holy Pundit at the Hythe Imperial. Brunch on the beach is a treat at Griggs of Hythe, or try The Bistro at Lympne Castle, Mary’s Tea Room in Dymchurch, Kate at The Bistro in Burmarsh, The Coach House Coffee Shop in New Romney and The Woolpack Inn at Warehorne. And don’t miss Hendricks of Hythe’s chocolates.
4. Jam on the Marsh
Jam on the Marsh returns to Romney Marsh 5-15 July and with seven concerts, five exhibitions, four children’s events, two theatrical performances, three poetry recitals and a churches’ tour, there’s something for everyone, www.jamconcert.org
5. Safari park
Nearby Port Lympne Reserve offers visitors a safari experience overlooking the Romney Marsh. Home to spectacled bears, gorillas and giraffes, conservation is at the forefront and January saw the birth of a critically endangered baby black rhino. You can stay in some of the park’s excellent accommodation, which ranges from budget glamping pods to a luxurious treehouse hotel and new addition Wolf Lodge. Visit www.aspinallfoundation.org
6. Pretty waterway
The Royal Military Canal runs for 28 miles from Seabrook, through Hythe, Appledore and Rye to Cliff End. Dug out by hand in the early 1800s as a defence against invasion from France, it effectively cuts the Romney Marsh off from the rest of Kent. Today, a public path creates leisure opportunities for cyclists, walkers, anglers and nature lovers.
7. Creepy crypt
Hythe’s St Leonard’s Church is home to one of only two ossuaries in the UK. It contains Britain’s largest, best-preserved collection of human bones, dating back to between the 13th and 15th centuries and thought to have been removed from the churchyard during building work and piled up in the crypt.
8. Antique shopping
Hythe has one of Kent’s longest high streets, with several antiques shops for those who like to browse. The Malthouse in Hythe is well worth visiting, an arcade operating since 1974 that’s filled with more than 25 small businesses offering antiques, collectables and crafts. It featured on the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip last year. Visit www.themalthousehythe.com
9. Nature’s finest
The diverse, unique habitats of the marsh are a haven for wildlife. To see the best, visit Romney Marsh Visitor Centre in New Romney, the RSPB reserve at Dungeness and the Dungeness National Nature Reserve. Apart from a huge range of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish and insects, the area is home to rare species such as the marsh mallow moth, water vole, great crested newt and medicinal leech.
10. Wild walks
Walkers are a common sight but at Alpaca Annie in Burmarsh you’ll spot some walkers with a difference. This alpaca farm has a shop selling all sorts of products made from soft alpaca wool and also offers trekking experiences with these fluffy, docile animals. Hour-long treks across the marsh are a great way of seeing the dykes and farmland and are a real treat for animal lovers. Visitors get a short talk about handling alpacas first and are allowed to hand feed the animals too.