The Day BeforeI'd arrived at Folkestone the afternoon before resuming my trip here, giving me time to have a look round and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: A well-cared-for cliff-top promenade from which I could clearly see the French coast; an intersting harbour with the remains of the railway/ferry connection to explore; and a town centre that the council is obvuiously doing its best to maintain and improve.
I also came across the Cliff Lift - or more correctly a funicular railway - one of the few remaining water-powered railways remaining.
The two cars, which are connected by a cable, are of equal weight and balanced. Water is added to a tank fitted to the top car until, taking account of the relative passenger loadings, the top car weighs more than that at the bottom, when the brakes are released and the top car descends - hauling the bottom car to the top. The water tank on what is now the bottom car is emptied and the process can begin again.
To North Kent
The day's journey began with a fast, main-road run to Dover with not many sea views on the 100-102 group of services that run through from Hastings making it once of England's longest bus routes. At Dover I transferred to a very busy service 15 for a ride to the top of the famous white cliffs. We got very close to the coast only at the village of St. Margarets after a lengthy double-run from the main road,and at Walmer, turned inland and ran through a sucession of dreary housing areas to Deal.
Deal was somewhere I could have stayed longer, but I only had 15 minutes before the next bus on to
Sandwich. I had an hour here but even this wasn't enough for a very pleasant and intersting town. I spent about half of it eating a "sandwich" (what else) outside the "Sandwich Shop" (geddit?) in the main square that also boasts a 1922-built bus waiting room provided by the "East Kent Road Car Company" (which is still the legal identity of present-day operators Stagecoach in Kent).
|A relic of the original identity of the bus company|
that's been serving this area for a hundred years.
In Ramsgate I had a bit of trouble finding the stop for the next bus - the 38 to Broadstairs. There were plenty of other buses heading that way, but the hourly 38 follows the coast most closely. Even when I did find one the 38 turned up 10 minutes late. Information on bus times in this area is plentiful once you've managed to find the bus stops but what is lacking is an overall indication of what is available and where to find it.
Broadstairs beach was very busy, as befits a warm and sunny August day. In fact the towns on this stretch of the coast all looked less run down and uncared for than resorts further west. Also striking was the number of elderly passengers using mobility aids of various sorts. There are always a few of these about wherever you go, but they do seem especial;y prevalent in North Kent!.
After an hour in Broadstairs I boarded another 38 to complete the journey to Palm Bay, from where it was only a short walk along the coastal path to Margate, passing on the way a young family happily enjoying a picnic in a car park, despite being within sight of the beach!
Something I wanted to see in Margate was "Dreamland" - a rescued and reopened amusement park that had once been the heart and soul of the resort before falling on hard times and closing. Re-opened, it still contains a number of 1960s-style rides which now form the basis of its "retro" appeal. Sadly, it had been announced a week prevuously that it has gone into Administration again so perhaps the appeal is not as great as anticipated. Margate is attempting to reinvent itself as a venue for well-off, trendy young things from London (it has the Turner Gallery for Contemporary Art) and Dreamland would have no appeal for them. Similarly its rides are no doubt a little tame for the younger generation raised on today's high-tech theme park attractions. However I enjoyed wandering around it for an hour although all I spend was £1.80 on a cup of tea. Here are a few photos to give you the general idea.