• The 29-mile continuous walking route is the fourth section to open in Kent, bringing the total length in the county to 173 miles.
  • The north Kent coast has one of the richest habitats in the UK; salt marshes and muddy plains, where huge colonies of wintering birds live.
  • This new section will form part of the 2,700-mile English Coastal Path, which will be the longest guided coastal footpath in the world.

Another new footpath will open for residents and visitors to North Kent this autumn. The newest section of England’s Coast Path will help connect people with nature and provide a range of opportunities for health and wellbeing. And since it’s half term, many can take the opportunity to enjoy a new path this week.

This easy-to-follow walking route follows the north Kent coast through spectacular scenery. From salt marshes and mud flats full of birds, to sea forts and historic towns with their maritime heritage, Natural England discovers today.

This route will eventually help connect the entire coastline of the country into 1 long National Trail. The walk takes people through some of England’s finest scenery. As well as the many coastal towns, cities and ports that have shaped this island nation.

It is exciting that, for the first time in the history of public access, legal rights of public access will be established on typical coastal lands, including beaches, dunes and cliffs. This allows pedestrians to access places they have never been before.

Jim Seymour, Area Manager for Natural England, said:

This new trail has spectacular scenery and reflects how important the north Kent coast has been over the centuries with many places of interest and history.

At a time when the benefits of connecting with nature are more evident than ever, it’s great that we’re opening up this 29-mile walking route on the north Kent coast for people to enjoy.

Promoting the coast of England across the country should also benefit the local economy. It will achieve this by guiding pedestrians past the many local businesses along this route to shop, eat and stop.

This new section begins in Whitstable, a popular seaside town famous for its oysters since Roman times. Walking from Whitstable Harbor you will see fishing boats and stalls as you walk west along the promenade and quiet roads to Sisalter. Along the way you pass Whitstable’s old fisherman’s huts, a mix of houses and modern beach huts overlooking the wide shingle beach.

Whitstable Harbor is the starting point

At Seasalter you have a good view of the Isle of Sheppey to the north, which is in the Thames Estuary just off the Kent coast. As you continue your walk you enter the Swale, a strip of tidal waters between the Isle of Sheppey and the Kent mainland. Where pebbly beaches begin to give way to salt marshes and muddy flatlands. The Swale Estuary is teeming with wildlife and thousands of wintering birds swarm here during the winter months. Such as the dark-bellied Brent and terns, oystercatchers, curlews and ringed plovers.

Heading inland along Fairsham Brook, approximately 3 miles, you will arrive at the historic town of Fairsham. It is the oldest market town in Kent with hundreds of monuments and maritime history. The path takes you through the shipyards, past the Standard Quay, filled with historic barges and a variety of shops, before crossing the creek on a swing bridge.

Strolling along the seawalls between Faversham and Oare, you can spot sailing barges and boats plying the narrow creeks and the distant Swale estuary. These settlements have a long history of boat building and this tradition is reflected in the 17th century Shipwright’s Arms, a pub located on the seafront.

Heading north from Oare, you pass through the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, which is owned by the Kent Wildlife Trust. From the sea wall you can see grazing marshes with freshwater dams, open water bodies, reed beds and salt flats – another haven for wildlife. The area has a long history as part of the gunpowder industry, and you can see signs of this in the remains of buildings and boats.

The image shows a man walking towards the camera on a village bridge to the left of the shot.  On the right, you can see the boat under repair

Iron Wharf, Faversham

Continuing on, you enter Conner Creek and pass a former 19th-century brickyard, a great spot to spot wintering birds on the adjacent mud flats. The site is now all overgrown, and in the spring you can hear the nightingales singing in the bushes.

Once you follow the creek back into the mouth of the Swale, large freighters and barges can often be seen. They travel to and from industrial docks in nearby Reedham and further west to the River Medway Estuary. You are now less than 1 mile, across the Swale Channel, from the Isle of Sheppey. Here you pass the remains of an old ferry terminal to a long-disused island before reaching and crossing Milton Creek, near Sittingbourne.

The route leaves the coast around the industrial estate and port at Reedham. Before returning to the seawall in the direction of Kingsferry Bridge near Iwade, close to Swale railway station, where the trail ends.

Mike Hill, Kent County Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said:

The opening up of this stretch of England’s coast provides Kent residents and visitors with further opportunities to get out into nature. And connect with the wealth of nature and heritage on their doorstep.

The north Kent coast has one of the richest habitats in the UK; salt marshes and muddy plains, where huge colonies of wintering birds live. It is a coast with a rich history of trade which has supported the growth of towns such as Faversham and Whitstable. Now they have become favorites of visitors to the area.

The beginning of access rights gives the opportunity to explore new areas of the coast. This contributes to the development of the local economy and promotes the health and well-being of residents.

Additional information

The 29-mile (45-kilometer) route will be part of the route England coast road, a 2,700-mile walking route and England’s newest National Trail, currently being developed by Natural England around the entire English coast. It is the fourth section in Kent to open after Ramsgate to Folkestone, Folkestone to Cumberland and Isle of Grain to Woolwich. Isle of Grain – Otterham Creek is due to open in April 2023, followed by Ramsgate – Whitstable.

Natural England worked on the site with a number of partners including Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, Canterbury City Council, Bird Wise North Kent and Ramblers.

The route is easily accessible by public transport and there are plenty of places for refreshments and accommodation along the trail. See National Trails Site Map to learn more:

Walkers can access maps of the route and any local diversions on National Trails website and check any access restrictions on Natural England – Open Access Maps

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 places a duty on the Secretary of State and Health England to provide a long-distance footpath around England’s open coast. Along with rights of public access to a wider area of ​​land along the way for people to enjoy. Natural England operates on the entire coastal route. See the map with the work schedule.

In addition to the new trail sections, there are improvements to existing shoreline access that:

  • define a clear and continuous path marked walking route along this part of the coast. Approaching some sections of the existing coastal path to the sea and connecting some places for the first time.
  • allow the route to “roll back” as the shoreline erodes, shifts or slides, solving the long-standing difficulty of maintaining a continuous route along the coast.

For more information, see Path to England’s coast: improving public access to the coast and National Trails website.

In February 2022, the Government announced that by the end of this Parliament, England’s Coastal Path will be fully accessible for pedestrians, linking communities from Northumberland to Cornwall.

The Code of rural areasrecently updated, is the official guide on how to enjoy nature and respect both it and the people who live and work there.

Find out more about this section of England’s Coast Path and Natural England on our website Twitter, Instagram and Facebookpages. Search: #EnglandCoastPath