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Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail

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Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 03 Sep 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trailstar1 Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trailstar1 Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trailstar1 Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trailstar1 Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail
Kent, Broadstairs
Walk Type: History trail
Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail
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A 6 mile linear trail running from Broadstairs rail station to Margate rail station in east Kent. The return leg can be completed with just a six minute train journey. The walk begins with an exploration of Broadstairs’ sea front with its beautiful beach and the promenade set on the low cliff edge with a wide range of shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants. The route continues heading out through the small village of St Peter’s and through open farmland to reach Margate. Here you’ll have chance to see the traditional British seaside resort with its beautiful expanse of golden sand.

Broadstairs has strong connections with the writer Charles Dickens and Margate is closely associated the artist JMW Turner and throughout the walk you’ll have chance to learn more about these two icons of British cultural history.

The walk is almost entirely flat and there are no stiles or gates. The paths are all well made tarmac or stone surfaces which are in most part wide but do narrow quite a lot through the open farmland and so it may be tight for wider pushchairs. There are public toilets in Crofts Place in Broadstairs, just off the High Street, about five minutes into the walk. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours, plus extra time to explore any of the attractions.

The walk starts from Broadstairs rail station and ends at Margate rail station. If you are coming by car the best plan is to park at Margate rail station and then catch the train (a six minute journey) to Broadstairs before walking back. Frequencies of the train service vary so check before you travel. Approximate post code for Margate Station CT9 5AD.

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Walk Sections

Start to Bleak House
Start to Bleak House

Start point: 51.3606 lat, 1.4337 long
End point: 51.3598 lat, 1.4453 long

If you are travelling by car, park at Margate Station and then catch the train to Broadstairs Station where the walk begins.

From Broadstairs station, walk down the hill and out of the car park to reach a T-junction with the High Street. Turn left to walk along the High Street. Continue ahead as the street begins to gradually slope downhill with the sea visible ahead. Turn left into Prospect Place, immediately before Lloyds Bank on the left. Take the first right behind the bank, Thanet Road, and follow this until it reaches a T-junction with Albion Street.

Turn left onto Albion Street and at the end of the street, keep left passing a car park on the left and heading to the church ahead. Turn right immediately in front of Holy Trinity Church, onto Church Road. Keep straight ahead as the road narrows to a tarmac alleyway and continue towards the sea ahead.

Towards the end of the alley on the right you’ll pass an anchor set into the wall. This is the anchor from the Thomas W Lawson, a 120 metre long seven-masted, steel-hulled schooner. Built in 1902 the ship holds the distinction of being the largest schooner and the largest pure sailing vessel (without an auxiliary engine) ever built. She was wrecked off the Scilly Isles in a storm in 1907, spilling the 58,000 barrels of paraffin oil which she was carrying, probably the first large oil spill from a ship in modern history.

On the corner on the right you will come to Bleak House.

Bleak House to Dickens House
Bleak House to Dickens House

Start point: 51.3598 lat, 1.4453 long
End point: 51.3582 lat, 1.4424 long

Bleak House was built in 1801 and was the home of the local fort captain during the Napoleonic Wars. Charles Dickens leased the house from 1837 to 1859, spending every one of the 22 summers here with his family. It was here that he wrote David Copperfield and also began work on Bleak House. The house was then called Fort House and was renamed Bleak House after Dickens’ death in 1870. Bleak House today is a hotel, tea rooms and smuggling museum and guided tours are available (fees apply) which include Charles Dickens’ study.

Swing right in front of Bleak House and follow the narrow lane between walls winding downhill. On the right you’ll pass a very ornate plaque including a bust of Charles Dickens set high into the walls of Bleak House.

At the bottom of the slope turn sharp left continuing downhill on the railed footpath. You will emerge to the timber harbour of Broadstairs with the first views of the golden beach.

The name of Broadstairs derives from a former flight of steps in the chalk cliff which led from the sands up to the 11th century shrine of St Mary at the cliff’s summit.

Turn right onto the road, passing the Tartar Frigate pub on the right. Follow the road as it climbs steadily uphill passing under the York Gate, a stone arch. Turn left into Eldon Place, signed for the Viking Trail cycle route. Continue ahead on the sea parade with the railings on the left and views of the sandy beach below.

Pass by the visitor information booth on the right and immediately afterwards turn right to reach Dickens House a few paces further ahead behind the railings.

Dickens House to Crampton Tower
Dickens House to Crampton Tower

Start point: 51.3582 lat, 1.4424 long
End point: 51.3599 lat, 1.4332 long

Dickens House, now a museum, was immortalised by Dickens as the home of David Copperfield’s aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood. It was here that Dickens watched the ‘Donkey Fights’ and both the cottage and the donkey fights were made famous in the novel, David Copperfield. The museum is open during the summer months.

Facing Dickens House, turn right for a few paces and then left up the alleyway and ahead to begin to climb up along the High Street. On the left by Barclays Bank, you will notice the first of the’ T&D’ small signs mounted on a lamppost which mark the route back to Margate.

Follow the High Street all the way along, passing by the rail station on the right. Pass under the rail bridge and a few paces further along climb the stone steps on the left to visit Crampton Tower.

Crampton Tower to Dickens Mosaics
Crampton Tower to Dickens Mosaics

Start point: 51.3599 lat, 1.4332 long
End point: 51.3626 lat, 1.4277 long

Crampton Tower is a flint tower and was built in 1859. It formed part of the first Broadstairs public water supply. The engineer responsible, Thomas Russel Crampton, is chiefly remembered as a designer of railways and locomotives, but he was also concerned with gas, water works and the submarine telegraph cable. He was the first to succeed in laying an effective telegraph cable under the English Channel. The tower now houses a museum, but limited opening times apply.

When you’ve finished exploring the tower, return to the road and continue along the pavement in the same direction. At the traffic lights, use the pedestrian crossings to turn right into St Peters Park Road, where again you will notice a T&D sign. Take the first left, Fordoun Road, and at the T-junction at the end turn right into St Peters Road.

At the crossroads stop to enjoy the range of mosaic plaques that you will find on the far left-hand corner of the junction.

The plaques were created by the Broadstairs artist Martin Cheek and the pupils of Upton Primary School in 2008. The plaques include many characters from Charles Dickens’ novels, including some very famous scenes from Oliver Twist.

Dickens Mosaics to St Peter's Church
Dickens Mosaics to St Peter's Church

Start point: 51.3626 lat, 1.4277 long
End point: 51.365 lat, 1.419 long

Continue ahead beyond the crossroads and the road becomes the High Street. On the right, through a green gate, look out for the Nuckell’s Almshouse built in 1858 with a beautiful statue of mother with children above the door. St Peter’s village history is brought to life once a week when costumed characters give guided tours telling the history of the local workhouses, residents and church.

At the end of the road, use the zebra crossing (just to your right) to cross the road to reach St Peter’s Church directly ahead. Enter the church yard on the tarmac footpath which passes to the left of the church.

St Peter's Church to Rail Bridge
St Peter's Church to Rail Bridge

Start point: 51.365 lat, 1.419 long
End point: 51.3776 lat, 1.3956 long

St Peter’s Church was built of flint in 1070 and was later enlarged. The church tower is 82ft high and it was used as a watch tower during the Napoleonic Wars.

Follow the tarmac path all the way through the church yard – this is quite some distance and in fact this is thought to be the longest church yard in England. You will emerge out onto a narrow tarmac path between arable fields. Continue straight ahead, heading towards the windmill on the horizon.

Follow this path between fields for more than a mile, ignoring any smaller turnings to the right and left and passing between a few houses along the way. Eventually a green railing will run to the left of the path and this section leads you up to a bridge over the railway.

Rail Bridge to Turner Mosaics
Rail Bridge to Turner Mosaics

Start point: 51.3776 lat, 1.3956 long
End point: 51.3856 lat, 1.384 long

Cross over the bridge and continue ahead on the tarmac path as it swings left heading once again for the windmill. Go straight on through the squeeze gap and onto the quiet road. Pass by a primary school on the left and on the right you will come to Drapers Mill.

Drapers Mill is a smock mill and was built by John Holman of Canterbury in 1845. It was working by wind until 1916 and then by engine until the late 1930s. It was restored 1965-75. Adjacent to the mill is the old bakehouse. The mill is open for limited weekend hours during the summer if you wish to look around.

At the end of the road, use the crossing to your left to cross the road and go straight ahead onto the tarmac footpath opposite. At the end of the footpath, cross over the road and continue ahead into the road called St Peters Footpath.

Continue ahead into Church Street and at the end turn right into Victoria Road. Immediately after the Catholic Church turn left into Charlotte Place. At the end of the road, take the road furthest to the right called St John’s Street. Follow the road to its end and cross over to reach a number of mosaics set into the stone wall.

Turner Mosaics to Turner Gallery
Turner Mosaics to Turner Gallery

Start point: 51.3856 lat, 1.384 long
End point: 51.3911 lat, 1.3818 long

These mosaics depict some of the works by the artist JMW Turner. Born in London in 1775, Turner was a renowned landscape painter using both oils and watercolour. Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate where he produced a series of early drawings of the town. Turner would return to Margate many times in later life. One of Turner’s many legacies is the Turner prize, a prestigious art award which began in 1984 in his honour.

One of the mosaic depictions here is of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ which was painted in 1839 and its subject is one of the ships from the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Temeraire, being towed to its final berth to be broken up for scrap. The original oil on canvas hangs in the National Gallery in London.

Continue ahead into Addington Street and on your right you’ll pass more mosaics celebrating Turner’s work and his life. Take the first left into Hawley Square and continue ahead passing the green on the right. At the end, turn right onto the pavement along the far side of the green, heading now gradually downhill.

Continue straight ahead passing Cecil Square on the left – a square which still contains many of the old buildings from Margate’s time as a busy port. When you come past College Square shopping centre on the right, cross over to turn left into Lombard Street. Turn right into Market Square and cross diagonally through Market Place, passing the local history museum on the left. Turn left along the back of the museum and go straight on into the cobbled Duke Street.

You will emerge to the sea front. Turn right along the main sea front parade, with the sea and beach over to the left. Pass by King Street on the right and then cross over the main road using the pedestrian crossing a few paces later. Cross right over the harbour entrance road and ahead you will reach the large modern building of the Turner Contemporary Gallery.

Turner Gallery to End
Turner Gallery to End

Start point: 51.3911 lat, 1.3818 long
End point: 51.3856 lat, 1.3722 long

The Turner Contemporary is a contemporary art space which commemorates the association of Margate with Turner. Opened in April 2011 by another local artist, Tracey Emin, the gallery has three stories of exhibitions and entrance is free.

When you’ve finished exploring the gallery return to the main road and turn right following the sea front with the beach now to your right. Cross to the left hand side of the road before you reach the large roundabout. Take the second exit from the roundabout to reach the rail station, a little further ahead.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Broadstairs to Margate: The Dickens and Turner Trail"

Fab walk. Two great towns with plenty to see along the walk.

By richard on 2012-10-14 17:23:17

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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