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The ancient harbour that marks the start of one of Kent’s best walks

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Original article from Kent Live

Sandwich Quay has to be one of the very best outdoor locations in Kent.

On a fine spring day, the River Stour twinkles beneath the sun.

Upon it birds and boats bob gently. Medieval stone buildings lay all around.

A paved pathway runs parallel to the water, before meandering off through manicured, tree-lined lawns.

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Even the humans around don't seem to affect the serenity of the place, which lies between Dover and Thanet.

Walkers saunter past literally beaming at one another, apparently well aware of how lucky they are to be frequenting such a beautiful part of the world.

The historic quay area

It’s hard to believe this relatively quiet spot was once a prosperous trading centre and gateway to mainland Europe.

Back in the 1200s, as well as a busy port, Sandwich Quay was also the landing place for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury and travellers to London.

It became known as a ‘Cinque’ port, part of a group of in Kent and Sussex that were allowed trading privileges in return for supplying the bulk of England’s navy.

The starting point for the circular walk

These days, a much quieter setting has to rank as one of Kent's best hidden gems.

It also marks the start of one of the county's most diverse and interesting walks.

Known as the Sandwich circular, a riverside amble first takes you past a huge play area for the kids.

A huge play area lies next to Sandwich Quay

It then peels away to follow the Saxon Shore Way, across the immaculate greens of Royal St George's golf course.

This soon becomes open sea at Sandwich Bay, where there is the chance to stop and enjoy wildlife and a stretch of glorious views.

Another highlight of the 5.3-mile route is the bird observatory, then comes the Sandwich and Hacklinge Site of Special Scientific Interest, past small farms and arable fields bursting into life at this time of year.

Finally you reach the comparative hustle and bustle of historic Sandwich.

Sandwich Guildhall was built in 1576, the moot horn hanging there used as far back as the 12th century to summon local people to hear important announcements.

The Barbican Gate, built in the 16th century, was the former tollgate to the bridge over the River Stour.

The historic town wall leads you back to the quay at the end

The walk follow the town wall back to the quayside, where your walk ends near to where Henry III’s sailors defeated the French in the Battle of Sandwich.

Nowadays, the place is better known for continental food than continental victims.

As well as the array of restaurants and cafes you find in Sandwich itself, the quay area is home to the Drill Hall – an old converted building providing fresh pizza, customised sandwiches, barista coffee and draught beer.

There's more to come soon too, with the local council currently tendering for three concessions stands nearby.

The Drill Hall is a well-rated cafe-cum-restaurant-cum-bar

It's a sign of just how popular this stunning, tucked away part of our county is becoming.

Which means it probably won't remain a hidden gem for long.

Original Article