Continuing on the keep-fit theme of our recent blog about exercise, we’re focusing on the fabulous Isle of Thanet cycle path, the Viking Coastal Trail. Understandibly popular with both locals and holiday-makers, it’s fantastic way of experiencing the beautiful coastline and countryside by bike. 32-miles in circumference, The Viking Coastal Trail circles the Isle of Thanet, passing through all of its seaside towns and inland country villages. You can pick it up at various points and much of the circuit is on traffic-free promenades or quiet country lanes so is suitable for all abilities.
Depending on how adventurous you are, you can either choose a part to do in one day or try the whole loop in one go! You will find regular stop-off points all the way round, the most frequent being along the main towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs. Ramsgate Rooms has mapped out a suggested circuit for you to enjoy alone or with your friends and housemates. It starts and finishes in central Ramsgate, travelling clockwise. Cycling out of Ramsgate Harbour the first stop is quaint Pegwell village, after which you arrive at the Viking Ship above the wildlife nature reserve. The trail goes inland at this point and roughly tracks where the ancient Wantsum coastline would have been, skirting the historic villages of Minster, Monkton and St. Nicholas-at-Wade. At Pegwell Bay you can also go ‘off route’ and carry on down to historical Sandwich and its nature reserves if you feel like a detour.
All of the inland Thanet villages have friendly pubs with gardens to stop off at before you strike out to Reculver Castle. A medieval church and ruins, Reculver sits on the very edge of the North Thanet coast and is well worth a visit. As a country park it’s also a great place for a picnic, with fantastic views out across to the start of the Thames estuary. The circuit continues round to Birchington and Westgate, with plenty of coastal geography to enjoy before you arrive in Margate. There you can lock your bike up at the secure cycle racks outside the Turner Centre and enjoy a couple of hours mooching. After that it’s a ride along the wide open space of the clifftops, past the Walpole Bay tidal pool and onto the stunning Botany and Joss bays.
Onto Broadstairs and another pitstop might be in order owing to the wide array of coffee shops and cafe’s on offer, or a rest on the jetty to enjoy some seafood. Following along the seafront past Louisa Bay and Dumpton Gap, you then go through pretty clifftop King George VI Memorial Park, which marks the boundary between Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Whichever directions and sections you take, the Viking Coastal Trail has plenty to see and experience. With all of Ramsgate Rooms properties having bike racks, you can keep your bicycle secure. If you don’t own a bike, you will find various places to hire as well, including Harbour Bikes in Ramsgate, the Bike Shed in Margate and Broadstairs Cycle Hire, who even have a tandem. Give it a go!