North Kent Estuary

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North Kent Estuary.jpeg

From East Sheppey across to Whistable is a large area of mudflats, with limited access from the shore, and a mini tide-race around The Swale entrance. The 4K open crossing from Shell Ness to Whitstable makes a nice outing when conditions are right. Arrival by sea at Whitstable offers the ultimate in lunch stops: haul your boat up the shingle, step into Whitstable Oyster Fishery an order up your Moule/Frites. Return to the sea afterwards with a sense of smug superiority.

East of Whitstable, the mud progressively gives way to sandy beaches and seaside towns (Herne Bay, Margate) with the prominent landmark of Reculver generally in sight. East from here, the water gets livelier as we head East to North Foreland, and leave the shelter of the Estuary.

The Tides in this area flood from the East and ebb to the West as expected. Flows are not particularly strong and can be paddled against easily enough if you stay inshore. Apart from a short run of cliffs East of Herne Bay (cut off at HW) there is landing more or less anywhere and plenty of parking. Also plenty of candy-floss and deep-fried doughnuts.

1K offshore from Herne Bay are the stranded remains of the pier wrecked by a storm in 1978, worth a detour to hear (or imagine) the echoes of the dance band still playing. Further offshore (8.5K due North) lies the Wind Farm, built in early 2007 (NickJ, Sea4me and TonyR paddled out there for a look in Octovber 2007, leaving just one thing behind: a camera!)


0k map WHITSTABLE OYSTER FISHERY(East end of harbour wall)
24hr access, with some restaurant tables on the shingle beach (or you can eat inside). Some parking behind the restaurant in the entrance driveway.
1k map WHITSTABLE CONTINENTAL
(500m east of Harbour, signs for Continental Hotel). 24hr shingle beach, shelter from groynes, parking, toilets, good hotel/restaurant.
5k map Hampton turn
24 hr slipway used by jetskis, parking nearby.
7k map HERNE BAY BREAKWATER
24 hr shingle beach either side of pier, on-road parking. Toilets 200m west of pier. Also breakwater and 24hr slipway for boats with adjacent large car park by clock tower. Shelter "under the boardwalk" in rough weather. Cafes and candyfloss everywhere
12k map Reculver
24hr shingle beach just East of the towers (some distance from the car park). Toilets nearby, also seasonal cafe and 2 pubs.
18k map MINNIS BAY
24 hr slipway on to sandy beach next to "Minnis" pub/cafe, parking, other slipways further along.
21k map WESGATE BAY
24 hr slipway on to sandy beach, parking, toilets, cafes.
25k map MARGATE
24 hr slipway on to sandy beach, inside or outside breakwater, parking/toilets on top. Lots of submerged rocks just off the beach, so often best to enter at right-angles to the shore in rough weather
28k map PALM BAY
24 hr slipway on to sandy beach, used by jetskis, parking
30k map BOTANY BAY
24 hr slipway on to sandy beach, parking, fairly exposed (swell, even small surf!)
32k map JOSS BAY
24 hr sandy beach, parking, toilets, great little spot by the North Foreland lighthouse. Beach car park £5 per day (Aug 206) or can drop off boats and park in neighbouring Elmwood Avenue. Joss Bay is the area's only recognised Surfing location, and even has a surf school! Waves are generally modest, larger at high tide and in a North-easterley wind.