While winter may bring a chill to Thanet, it also paints the town with a serene beauty. Nature enthusiasts and beach lovers will find plenty to adore during the colder months. From peaceful beach walks to exploring the town's natural wonders, Thanet's winter landscape offers a unique and tranquil experience. Here are 11 adventures to help you embrace the beauty of nature in Thanet in winter.
1. Tranquil Beach Walks
Bundle up and take long, peaceful walks along Thanet's beaches. There are more bays than the iconic ones like Viking Bay, Ramsgate Main Sands and Margate Beach and winter is an amazing time to explore them. The liminal space where the winter sky and sea meet has a calming effect on the soul, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore creates a soothing atmosphere. From Pegwell Bay to Minnis Bay there are miles of golden sands to soak in. For a guide to all of the beaches and bays around the Thanet coast, visit this blog here.
2. Bird Watching at Pegwell Bay
Winter is an excellent time for bird watching at Pegwell Bay, as it is a really important winter migration site, with birds making temporary visits as they make their annual journeys across the globe. Witness a variety of bird species, including waders and wildfowl, and if you follow BirdWise East Kent on instagram, you will get some updates of the visitors passing through.
3. Explore the White Cliffs of Dover
Just a short drive from Margate, the White Cliffs of Dover offer breathtaking winter views. Take a hike along the cliffs and marvel at the stunning vistas of the English Channel. There is a beautiful visitors centre, run by The National Trust, get a coffee and watch the frenetic activity of the boats in and out of The Port of Dover. And if you're feeling like a decent hike, you can head along the clifftops to South Foreland Lighthouse and St Margret's at Cliffe where you'll find the stunning gardens of Pines Calyx.
4. Discover Tivoli Woods and Park
Explore the enchanting Tivoli Woods and Park, a hidden gem in Margate. The woods are particularly magical during winter, with frost-kissed trees and pathways. Take a leisurely stroll, enjoy the fresh winter scents, and feel the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. It is a small piece of woodland but on a beautiful winter's day it is really enchanting.
5. Take a walk at Botany Bay
Witness the spectacular winter skies at Botany Bay. See the power of the sea in action, as each high tide brings such an energy that is shaping the landscape, with the cliffs constantly changing shape. And you can treat yourself to a cosy meal afterwards at the fabulous Botany Bay Hotel.
6. Explore Joss Bay's Rock Pools
During low tide, explore the fascinating rock pools at Joss Bay. Discover the magic of the marine life in our rockpools, you can find crabs, starfish, cuttlefish, colorful algae and shells while enjoying the crisp winter breeze. You may also get lucky and find the rare stalked jellyfish, the reason our coastline is a marine protected area (MPA) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). And occasionally, there are rare avian visitors and I had the joy of seeing a spoonbill filtering the standing water at low tide on the rockpools!
7. Seal Watching at River Stour
Take to the water from Ramsgate's Royal Harbour or from the quayside in Sandwich and head to the River Stour to watch the resident seal colony.
At low tide you will witness these wonderful marine mammals basking on the mud flats of the river meanders. Winter is the perfect time to see these charming creatures in their natural habitat. It is important to visit them on an organised tour and if you ever see a seal on the beach on it's own, please report it to BDMLR - 01825 765546. Volunteer Marine Mammal Medics will attend to check on the health of the seal and make sure that it isn't disturbed by beach users. Often they haul out to rest and go back to sea with the next high tide, but sometimes the haul out as they are not well and need support. I volunteer with BDMLR and adore being able to protect our wildlife in this way.
8. Wild Swim and Winter Picnic at Margate Main Sands
Wild Swimming is especially wild in winter. There are so many health benefits to wild swimming and cold water emersion and it is a ritual I adore. The ceremony of nature worship can continue after your swim, so pack a thermos of hot soup and some sandwiches, and have a cozy winter picnic on Margate Main Sands. Enjoy the sound of the waves and the fresh sea air while indulging in delicious food. It is great fun to do something like this, but if you're not used to the sea temperatures at this time of the year, it is important to go into the water slowly and never jump in - to avoid cold water shock.
9. Coastal Cycling Adventure
Thanet has an amazing cycle path, The Viking Coastal Trail which covers 32 miles of coastline! The miles and miles of bike-friendly paths offer a great way to explore Thanet's natural beauty, including its beaches, cliffs, and parks and there are plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants along the route to add to the adventure.
10. Stargazing at Kingsgate Bay
Clear winter nights provide an excellent opportunity for stargazing. Head to Kingsgate Bay, away from the town lights, and marvel at the vast winter sky adorned with stars. If you are lucky, you might find a rare night of solar activity bringing the aurora borealis to our southern skies!
Check out the aurora captured in Sept 2023 at Kingsgate Bay here...
11. Explore the Rise Up Residency Murals around Margate
The residency welcomed seventeen local and international artists to stay in Margate. Together they created public art as a means of raising awareness of ocean conservation, and the issues caused by plastic in and near our oceans. From documenting ocean biodiversity, to plastic hazards and ocean species, the murals will remain in the town and intend to act as an educational backdrop. Their aim is to inspire, unite and empower the community of Margate and its visitors to partake in reducing plastics and respecting the ocean. There are 17 utterly incredible works of art to explore. You can find more information about them here and a map of their locations here.
Being born and raised in Thanet might make me a little bias, but I believe winter brings so much charm to the coastline and so much spaciousness to enjoy the natural beauty and serene beaches. By embracing these wonderful winter activities, you can truly connect with nature and experience the areas coastal wonders in a unique and intimate way. So, bundle up and embark on a winter adventure that will leave you with cherished memories of Thanet this wintertime.
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