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One of the best and most accessible walks on the southeast coast is the Viking Coastal Trail – a walk from Ramsgate to Margate (or vice versa). The trail is approx 7 miles, which is around 3 to 4 hours long (excluding time for stops like fish and chips or ice-cream) and takes in several scenic bays, beautiful beaches and numerous views and vantage points.
From the majestic Broadstairs beach and cobbled streets through to the white and sandy beach at Botany Bay, we’ve done this walk a couple of times now (most recently in September 2020) and usually finish in Margate.
It can easily be done in a half day but if you are making lots of stops along the way like we did, we’d recommend making a day of it. Here is guide to all the best beachside stops along the Ramsgate to Margate coastal walk:
Ramsgate to Margate walk / Viking Coastal Trail map
Ramsgate to Margate walk
We started our Viking Coastal Trail walk at the main sands in Ramsgate after getting up early and exploring the marina and harbour area. If you want to fill up before your walk, there are lots of little cafes on Ramsgate right next to the beach – we opted for a full english at the Royal Victoria Pavilion pub (a Wetherspoons chain pub) as it has a big outdoor area overlooking the sandy beach and is located right at the very start of this coastal path.
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As you leave Ramsgate towards Dumpton Gap, you’ll see the entrance to Ramsgate Tunnels on your left, a huge and cavernous subterranean world of underground tunnels that were built to hide people during the blitz in world war II. If you are starting this walk in the morning or early afternoon (we started around noon), it is possible to walk to Broadstairs all the way along the beach at low tide.
Just over a mile and half of walking along the beach and pebbles past chalky white cliffs brings you to Dumpton Gap, a popular sunbathing spot dotted with beach-huts and a friendly beachside diner called Sam’s Cafe.
As we were did this walk most recently in the off peak season (September 2020 – in the wake of covid19), we found that this was the last beachside shop / cafe open until Broadstairs so you may want to grab a couple of bottled drinks here if you don’t have your own supplies already.
Broadstairs / Viking Bay
One of our favourite seaside resorts in the whole of England, Broadstairs is a cute and charming coastal town with incredible hilltop views overlooking Viking Bay. Always popular, this is a quintessentially British beachside spot oozing charm, with several bars and restaurants overlooking the bay, a busy harbour arm and loads of traditional favourites like fish and chip kiosks and ice cream stalls.
Whilst here, you can visit the Charles Dickens Museum which showcases Dickens links to the Broadstairs region, housed in the cottage that was said to be the inspiration for Betsey Trotwood’s house in his famous David Copperfield novel.
There are also lots of beachside attractions here like activities for the kids and on a warm summer’s day, you’ll marvel at a sea of beach towels and sunbathers, with hardly any sight of sand left – it really is a popular place.
The coastal path along the Viking Coastal trail from Broadstairs brings you the sublime Stone Bay, less than a mile’s walk along the bay. Stone Bay is a nice swimming beach and popular with local families, many of whom own or rent one of the colourful beach huts you’ll also see lined up along the path here.
After you’ve enjoyed Stone Bay, keep walking to the end of the beach and then head left up the hill via the pavement that leads into some parkland and then onto the main road. Turn right and then follow this road (North Foreland Road) for about 20 minutes as you head towards your next stop, Joss Bay.
On the way, look out for the North Foreland Lighthouse, a local historical landmark which was originally built in 1691 and has had many uses over the years including as a maritime hospital (although it looks to be have renovated or rebuilt since) – note that the North Foreland Lighthouse isn’t currently open to the public but you can get some nice snaps from the perimeter fence.
Just over a 5 minute walk from the lighthouse down the hill, your next stop is Joss Bay, a surfer’s favourite and great for swimming, having consistently been awarded a Blue Flag status (for the good water quality) in recent years. One of the most popular beaches on the Thanet coast, families often make a day of visiting Joss Bay, as there is a cafe, toilets and beach hire facilities here.
The next bay along is Kingsgate Bay – a sheltered sandy cove backed by high white chalk cliffs, known for its sea caves. At the top of the cliff here, you’ll also find the Captain Digby, a historic pub overlooking the bay with a massive beer garden looking directly over the beach – the pub exterior wouldn’t look out of place in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie!
At Kingsgate Bay, you’ll also see what looks like an incredible castle but it is in fact private apartments – this must be one of the most desirable places to live in the area. Who wouldn’t want to reside in a beachfront castle?!
Resuming your walk and heading towards Botany Bay, watch out for golf balls from the nearby North Foreland Golf Course (‘Fore’ real) and you can also walk around the perimeter of Neptune’s Tower, a derelict folly dating back to the 18th century.
A gorgeous gem of a beach, beautiful Botany Bay is one of the jewels of this entire walk, and a popular setting for movies and television period dramas (as the white cliff cove is a stunning backdrop). At low tide, several significant fossil discoveries have been made here over the years and as with Joss Bay, the beach here has been awarded a Blue Flag status meaning it is safe to swim here, in terms of the water quality.
If you are looking to do only a couple of stops along this entire walk, we’d definitely recommend this and Broadstairs as your main places to relax and soak in the sea air before resuming your journey towards Margate.
Palm Bay and Walpole Bay
After Botany Bay, the walk gets a little more nondescript as you head up onto the coastal path, past such landmarks as the ‘Margate Wastewater Pumping Station’ (!) and various derelict shelters. That said, the coastal views are still quite inspiring and after about five minutes, you see a downhill cut through path that brings you out onto a concrete coastal path that takes you to Palm Bay.
The remaining walk to Margate takes you past several inland beaches and bays such as Walpole Bay and Palm Bay. These seem to be popular with locals as after work or after school places to swim or walk their dogs. The walk from Palm Bay to Margate can get a little samey after a while, as you start to approach the town centre.
Your final destination of the Viking Coastal Trail and end point on this seven mile walk from Ramsgate is Margate, a gentrified and once grimy coastal town that is often referred to as ‘London on Sea’ (erm, yeah no). Margate has some very cool places to visit like the bars and restaurants on the harbour arm, the Turner Gallery and Dreamland, a retro theme park lover’s wet dream but Margate is also a little sketchy in places, especially at night when most of the other tourists have gone home.
See our full guide to things to do in Margate here >
We timed our Ramsgate to Margate walk along the Viking Coastal trail to see sunset over the main sands at Margate before getting an early evening train back to St. Pancras station. However, there is lots of accommodation here so a night on the coast may also be a suitable reward after completing this charming, coastal walk – Vitamin Sea indeed.
Highly rated hotels in Margate
The Crescent Victoria Hotel
Stylish hotel just a 5-minute walk from the beach with garden, a terrace and a bar. Check out prices and availability for The Crescent Victoria hotel
The Penthouse Margate
Modern penthouse apartment with sea facing balcony, living room and a fully equipped kitchen. Check out prices and availability for The Penthouse Margate
The Sands Hotel
Boutique hotel just 4 minutes’ walk from the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery with waterfront terrace and views of the beach. Check out prices and availability for The Sands Hotel
Other blog posts you might like
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- Things to do in Brighton – a perfect day trip
- Things to do in Hastings
- Visiting Margate on a ‘microgap’ with Visit England
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