Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Westbrook Coastal Walk

Distance 1 mile approx. 20 – 30 minutes.
Wheelchair accessible (Exception parts of Sunken Garden)
Well-made paths with slope to cliff top.
A combination of coast and open spaces.

Start at Barnes Westbrook Lower Promenade car park. Click on Google map in links on this blog for location. Head west along promenade towards Westgate (left if facing the sea).

At low Tide looking seaward notice the series of high and low profiles of the chalk reef. This is often covered with many varieties of seagulls and wading birds including turnstones, plovers, redshanks, curlews and oyster catchers. A cormorant often visits this bay, flocks of Brent geese and the occasional seal.

If you look back to the cliffs you will find Westbrook Town Green and Nature Park in the making. Shielded by the cliffs and free from traffic noise you may see rock pipits, pied wagtails, goldfinches, redstarts, wheatear, kestrel and other birds feeding on the grasses between the cliffs and promenade.

There are wildflowers in spring and summer. A wildflower guide has been produced; follow the link on this blog. You may have noticed bricked up openings in the cliffs; I am told these used to be gun emplacements from the last war which were accessible from the cliff top.

Half a mile on, there are some breakwaters where wading birds often roost. There is a sandy gully where sandlings normally scatter to and fro. So far this year they are conspicuous by their abscence. In autumn and winter at high tide look over the railings and you are likely to see turnstones, plovers and redshanks roosting. Please be careful not to disturb them.

Rounding the point you are entering St Mildred’s Bay there is a café if you feel like a cup of tea etc. There is also a plaque showing the location of the First World War sea plane station. Otherwise take an about turn at the car park and walk up the slope. Turn left at the top and you will see a viewpoint. You can view the coast both ways. If evening this is a lovely spot to just watch as the Sun goes down.

Now head east towards Margate along the cliff top path. There are sea views in both directions and you will have views of Margate, its harbour and the Turner Centre. Keep an eye out to sea for flocks of birds flying either east to west or west to east. You will see in the middle of the cliff top greens, a hedged enclosure. This is worth a visit as it is the famous Sunken Gardens. There is a variety of plants and garden birds to see.

We return to the cliff top path heading towards Margate returning to the car park via a slope.

This walk can be extended for another half mile continuing along the cliff top path and later the road returning to the promenade by one of the slopes or stairs. Return westwards to the car park along Westbrook bay promenade or even venture on to the lovely sands. If you look at the strand line (noticeable by a line of seaweed) you may find egg cases of dogfish and skate (mermaid’s purse), a wide variety of sea shells or even cuttlefish bones like the ones found in budgie cages. There is also a café open in the summer in case you need further sustenance. Return to the car park along the promenade or the beach at low tide.

Click on Link "Westbrook Coastal Walk" for instruction sheet.

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