10 reasons to love Sandwich, Kent

PUBLISHED: 10:59 27 August 2019

Quirky independents and ancient buildings abound (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Quirky independents and ancient buildings abound (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Giving its name to the world’s most popular snack, Sandwich is filled with history and natural beauty

1. On the river

Set on a pretty stretch of the River Stour, Sandwich didn't always boast the same relaxed pace of life it does now. With easy access to the sea before the gradual disappearance of the Wantsum Channel during the Middle Ages, this charming little town was once a major trading port. One of the original Cinque Ports, it was wealthy and bustling, but constantly under threat of attack from the sea. Now the river is a peaceful place for pleasure boats, anglers and lovers of wildlife. Explore it on the Sandwich River Bus, which runs seal spotting cruises to the estuary.

2. Back in time

Sandwich is surrounded by the ruins of a 14th-century wall, built to deter invaders. Look out for The Guildhall, dating from 1579 and now housing the town's excellent museum, as well as the Sandwich Weavers building, once the workshop of some of the area's many 16th-century Dutch Protestant refugees. The town's ancient gatehouses are iconic and there's even a working windmill, thanks to volunteers keeping White Mill Heritage Centre open.

3. Food and drink

Eat at Charlie's Bistro, The Bell Hotel, Edessa, Luigi's Italian and the Mermaid's Locker. Relax over a cuppa at Goats That Dance, The Beach Hut Café or Scrumalicious Cake Company. Enjoy a pint of local ale in The George & Dragon, The King's Arms, The Crispin Inn and The Hop & Huffkin. For fine dining, head to The Salutation Restaurant or The Brasserie on the Bay at Prince's Golf Club.

The 16th-century Guildhall houses the town's museum (photo: Manu Palomeque)The 16th-century Guildhall houses the town's museum (photo: Manu Palomeque)

4. Beautiful beaches

Popular with walkers and bird watchers, the area has several beautiful beaches. A little tricky to access, Sandwich Bay is a long stretch of sand and shingle beach backed by two golf courses and a private estate. Nearby Pegwell Bay is popular with families and is used for water sports; from here explore Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve, home to a variety of wildlife and famous for its visiting waterfowl.

5. Annual events

An excellent calendar of events kicks off in May with Sandwich Salutes the '40s and the Sandwich Food Fayre, with French celebration Le Weekend taking place each June and the Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival in July. The biggest event is this month's Sandwich Festival (23-26 August), with a packed programme including music, dance, markets and a classic car show. Sandwich Arts Week takes place in September (14-21).

6. Roman Fort

Nearby Richborough was once the landing point for the invading Roman legions in AD43. The Roman fort of Rutupiae, now known as Richborough Castle and managed by English Heritage, was regarded as the 'gateway to Britain' by the Romans and grewinto a huge settlement. The remains we see today include the deep ditches first dug by legionaries, large stone walls, the foundations of open-fronted shops and even some small traces of wooden buildings. A museum showcases some of the key finds.

7. Time for tee

Sandwich is home to two world-class golf courses. Prince's was built in 1906 and has a modern clubhouse, accommodation and its own restaurant, the Brasserie on the Bay, while Royal St George's was designed in 1887 and is famed as having had James Bond author Ian Fleming as one of its members. It has hosted The Open Championship on 14 occasions since 1894 and is due to hold the Open again in 2020.

8. Twitching heaven

A nationally important site for wildlife, Sandwich is one of the best spots in the UK to see all sorts of birds, including migrating waterfowl. Keen birdwatchers head to the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and its many wildlife reserves across the Sandwich Bay Estate, including the Restharrow Scrape and the Restharrow Dunes.

9. Glorious gardens

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and restored several years ago, the Salutation Gardens are divided into a series of symmetrical 'rooms'. The Grade I listed manor house is now a luxury boutique hotel, although visitors can access the gardens separately. There's also a café, shop and a plant nursery.

10. Walk this way

There's an excellent circular walk around historic Sandwich, taking in all the buildings of note and the sites of some important historic events. The walk by discoveringbritain.org starts halfway across the Town Bridge facing the Bell Hotel and goes on to explore the quay, the ancient Fisher Gate, The Bulwark, the town's churches, Strand Street, Gallows Field and much more. Download the app, the written guide or the audio version from the website.

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