St Margaret’s at Cliffe coastal walk
PUBLISHED: 11:41 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:44 04 September 2020
Setting off from the beach at St Margaret’s, prepare to be amazed at the feast of delights that will unfold before you as you meander along across cliff tops
Location: St Margaret at Cliffe, CT15 6DY
Distance: 4.7 miles (7.56 km) circular
Time: Allow 2 hours 45 minutes
OS Explorer Maps: 138
Terrain: Easy going quiet roads
Public transport: For public transport directions from your home address to St Margaret at Cliffe, please visit kentconnected.org
Parking: Car park at St Margaret’s Bay
Refreshments & facilities: The Coastguard Pub and public toilets at St Margaret’s beach; tearooms at the Pines Gardens.
Setting off from the beach at St Margaret’s, prepare to be amazed at the feast of delights that will unfold before you as you meander along across cliff tops, across Lighthouse Down, passing the South Foreland Lighthouse and Fan Bay Shelter. Enjoy the panoramic views across the channel and take in the Second World War military history which is evident throughout your walk. With plenty to places to stop awhile and relax this is a walk that will enlighten your senses.
The beach at St Margaret’s is the first treat on this walk – the rugged charm means there is plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife and even go crab spotting. On the cliff side, you will see a distinctive white building; this is the where Ian Fleming, writer of James Bond penned his novels including the famous ‘Moonraker’ where some filming was carried out locally.
Passing the Coastguard pub, you’ll pick up the much-loved Saxon Shore Way path which will take you past the Pines Calyx gardens and St Margaret’s Museum. The centre piece of the gardens is a wonderful bronze statue of Winston Churchill, a reminder of darker days when Nazi invaders were just 20 miles away. The gardens are well worth a look around containing many rare plants. Founded by ‘flowering’ Fred Cleary in 1971, the garden contains many beautiful and unusual mature trees and shrubs including walnut, fig and pomegranate trees.
Shortly, you’ll pass by the South Foreland Lighthouse, it has many interesting stories to tell about lighthouse keeping. It was originally owned by the Knott family who lived there with their 13 children. Marconi also conducted radio communication experiments from here too. Now owned by the National Trust, it’s worthy of a stop off on your walk.
From here you’ll follow a track towards the village of St Margaret at Cliffe, look out for cross channel gun positions hidden away in the undergrowth, a sure reminder of more recent conflicts that have taken place in the area. Be sure to admire the wonderful views out to sea and across Lighthouse Down as you follow the drove way towards the Free Down. The landscape here is carefully managed by conservation volunteers who ensure the preservation of the habitats of several species of rare plants and wildlife.
At the bottom of the valley you’ll pass through the site of former gun position of a high velocity howitzer known as ‘Bruce’. Continue your walk across the cliff tops taking in the amazing views of the channel towards Fan Bay Deep Shelter. On the way, look out for the tracks and burrows of foxes, badgers and rabbits. The end of your walk is at the shingle beach of St Margaret’s Bay where you could stop on by at the Coastguard for a drink, it’s the nearest pub to France and offers a warm welcome to its outside bar and barbeque in the summer.
This is a great walk to take in the views of the famous White Cliffs and on a clear day its possible to see as far as the French Coast, it’s also the route of the recently opened England Coastal Path that runs from Camber in East Sussex to Ramsgate so if you like this walk and want to set yourself a bit of a challenge, this is one for you!
To find out about other walks and events in Kent including walking festivals and Bike Week, please visit the Explore Kent website www.explorekent.org. Follow Explore Kent on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your adventures with us!