It was a big turn-off. Despite its beautiful location at the foot of a cliff and its fine sandy beach, the town looked gloomy and shabby. I suppose this was mainly due to the port activities and the ship yard. There was a lot of rusty iron, concrete, ancient wood and a smell of petrol in the air.
We walked down the quay and were intrigued by what we saw on both sides of it. On the right there were the wharf and a ship dredging the entrance to the harbour. On the left, on the sandy beach in front of what looked like a casino or some amusement hall, youngsters were having a swim in the sea. Two completely different worlds!
As the town didn’t appeal to us, we didn’t stay long and drove in the direction of Sandwich. Teresa had told us about Sandwich Bay, a tidal bay and ornithological paradise, where she regularly takes her two collies, Megs and Polly, for long walks. After the industrial gloom of Ramsgate we could do with a bit of nature and panoramic sea views.
We carefully followed the road signs and instructions on Mats’ GSP. This led us through some fine country lanes, until … the car that we had been following, stopped at a red and with barrier. A man standing by the barrier stepped up to the driver in the car. While we were waiting, we noticed a ‘private property’ sign next to the barrier and a board announcing an entrance fee of 7.90 Pounds. We could hardly imagine that Teresa would pay that much money just to walk her dogs, so we assumed we had come the wrong way. We therefore turned the car and drove off, hoping to find another road leading into the bay. We never found it and before we knew it, we were back on the main road leading towards Deal.
All in all our day’s outing wasn’t very successful: we didn’t get into the Canterbury cathedral, Ramsgate was a real turn-off and Sandwich Bay will remain a mystery. We weren’t disappointed or sad though, as we did have a splendid lunch at Deeson’s and we really enjoyed each other’s company and the drive in the country.
Later that evening, during dinner with Teresa and Sandy, they confirmed that the barrier we had seen was the official entrance to
and that local residents could buy a season ticket costing 80 Pounds, which gave them unlimited access to the park all year round. Moreover, there was a little side road, through the sand dunes leading into the bay that only the locals knew of. When we mentioned this the next morning to our host at the B and B, he confirmed the existence of the off-the-beaten track road and even showed it to us on a map. But by then it was too late, because half an hour later we were leaving Deal for the final destination of our journey, Charing … and more adventures, including meeting blogger friends Veronica and Sue … Sandwich Bay