Spotlight on Broadstairs, Kent. Find out why Dickens loved this seaside town
PUBLISHED: 13:42 19 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:42 20 February 2013
Known as Star of the Sea, you'll quickly realise why Dickens loved this charismatic seaside town with its beautiful beaches and bays...
What the Dickens?
Broadstairs is a lively, happy town, surrounded byseven beautiful sandy bays; theres a splendid promenade with lovely gardens and plenty of interesting little shops, plus awealth of literary associations.Charles Dickens spent much time here and there are countless references to the great writer as well as aDickens House and an annual Dickens Festival. Bleak House the dramatic clifftop mansion visible for miles around was where he wrote part of David Copperfield.August is traditionally Broadstairs Folk Week, when the main streetsare closed to traffic and venues all around town are taken over by musicians and dancers.
Around townThere are five car parks, and plenty of on-street parking (apart from during Folk Week, when car spaces are likely to be rare). Dickens House (it doubles as the Tourist Information Centre) is in Victoria Gardens, the seafront road, one of a number of grand, sparkling-white buildings.The seafront itself is at a lower level, and here youll find the Promenade,a number of beautifully landscaped gardens, the bandstand and beach.The steeply rising High Street leads away from the sea and as well as the shops youll find Raglan Place, aneat row of charming old cottages.Key roads include Albion Street, with the handsome Royal Albionhotel and some beguiling alleys that lead to the seafront. Harbour Streetis also particularly attractive, withthe old Curiosity Shop Tea Rooms, next door to which is a square of cottages and a wishing well; further down here is York Gate.
Where to eat and drinkThe Posillipo Italian restaurant is described as a slice of Naples in Kent, and specialises in seafood, as does the excellent Tartar Frigate, one of the only 18th-century flint restaurants in Kent, with views across Viking Bay. Phileas Fogg offers authentic dishes from around the world.A great pub thats also right on the beach is The Pavilion, and other fine drinking places include Ye Olde Crown the White Swan and theDolphin Inn.
Where to shopA fine range of high-street stores at nearby Westwood Cross Shopping centre, as well as a 10-screen multiplex cinema, but in town most of the shops are small and individual.Albion Street has two antique shops and three bookshops, there are several art galleries and antique shops, three bookshops, craft shops and a number of fashion outlets, as well as some good gift stores. Broadstairs Farmers Market is held on the harbour on Sundays from 10am-3pm.
Botany BayThis natural bay with chalk cliffs, near Margate, was the site of a battle between smugglers and revenue men in the 18th century. Walk along the clifftop to Ramsgate.
Kingsgate BayOverlooked by the Captain Digby pub and Kingsgate Castle (now private flats), this bay has a fine secluded sandy beach and some of the best sea caves in the UK.
Joss BayJust beyond Kingsgate Castle and popular with surfers, the surfing school is based there (see pxx). Surfboards and wet-suit hire.
North ForelandBeside Joss Bay and most notable for the North Foreland lighthouse, Englands oldest working lighthouse.
Stone BayApproached by a descending footpath from Stone Road or steps from the Eastern Esplanade (disabled access). Has chalk cliffs, rock pools and a promenade.
Viking BayLargest of the bays, directly below the town, has a harbour and sailing club, promenade, harbour pier and boardwalk. Host to Kent Surf school, surf ski, donkey rides, Punch & Judy.
Louisa BaySandy bay ideal for rock pooling and sand castles. Childrens activities and disabled access.
Dumpton GapMost southerly of the bays, with rocks, a promenade and a low-tide walking route to Ramsgate. Disabled access, but its very steep.
Folk Week5-12 AugFestival of music, song and dance. Hundreds of events, concerts, shows, dancing in the streets, workshops, craft fairs and ceilidhs. Among headliners, this year are: Barbara Dickson, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Roy Bailey, Heidi Talbot with John McCusker and Boo Hewardine and Les Barker, Vin Garbutt and the Home Service. Key venues are the concert marquee in Pierremont Park, The Pavilion pub, the bandstand, the Sailing club, The Crampton Museum and various pubs, church halls and cafs around town.
Water Gala17 AugA family funfair, childrens competitions, decorated beach huts, sandcastle building, musical entertainment, water-based activities, Teddy bears picnic, firework finale
Broadstairs Food Festival30 Sep-2 OctHeld in Victoria Gardens and Victoria Parade. More than 70 stallholders will present the best of Kents produce.
Broadstairs is on the eastern edge of the Isle of Thanet, between Margate and Ramsgate. Youll find it on the A255 about 20 miles from Dover and 80 from London. There are rail links to London (taking about two hours) and other Kent towns and good bus and coach connections
Traveline 0871 200 2233
Satnav postcode: CT10 1QS