A beachfront walk with so much to offer – The Beach Escapes to Folkestone.
Whatever the season, The Beach Escapes is perfectly placed for a walk into Folkestone; if you’re feeling energetic you can also walk back (or you can easily just catch a bus or a taxi back to Hythe!)
Turning left out of The Beach Escapes and onto the promenade, you will walk a couple of easy miles along the promenade, past the Hythe Imperial Hotel and golf course, before reaching Sandgate, which is just past the newly refurbished Sandgate Hotel to the left (the first of many great pitstop opportunities!)
If you fancy walking along Sandgate High Street and browsing the antique and other interesting shops, you will need to bear left (the promenade itself goes in front of a row of terraced cottages) so you will leave the promenade and walk along the pavement into Sandgate itself.
In Sandgate there is a plethora of coffee shops; our firm favourite is LOAF as it’s great not just for coffee but also for toasties, soups and smoothies – great while you read the papers, play some cards or just listen to the chilled music. If it’s a ‘proper’ drink you’re after, then head to one of the traditional pubs or perhaps opt for something a bit different with the various independent drinking venues on offer such as The Dog House. We like The Ship, as it has a great terrace overlooking the sea – a great spot if the weather is fine! The Vaults (a bit further up on the main road) is also worth a visit for a meal or just a drink.
Heading back onto the promenade by The Ship, you will find The Boat House – this is a very dog-friendly outdoor café offering fabulous coffee and doggie treats, including ice creams with bone- shaped doggy-choc flakes! Their meat and veggie hot dogs are also a must (both delicious!)
Continuing the walk, you will pass Sandgate Castle on your left and then weave your way along the path into Folkestone. Before too long you will come across some newly painted beach huts – as well as some of the Triennial installations – which means you’re nearly there…
As you approach one of the wider bays with larger rocks, and Folkestone comes into view, the Mermaid Café – which is actually very easy to miss – will be on your left; look for some steps to your left to a terrace overlooking the beach. This is close to the start of the Coastal Park so head up the steps if you want a change from the promenade (handy if it’s a blustery day) and you will arrive at a great tree-covered adventure park, complete with zipwire and large (and high) wooden play area with sand below. There are also some play areas, ideal for smaller children.
Walking through the Coastal Park (now parallel to the main promenade), you can enjoy the delightful flora and fauna on display before arriving at the historical Leas Lift, a grade II listed funicular railway that was originally installed in 1885 and carried passengers between the seafront and the Leas of Folkestone (at town level). It remains one of the oldest water lifts in the UK. Sadly, it is currently out of action, though there are numerous campaigns to raise funds to reinstate it! What does remain of the original business is the Leas Lift Café, below the lift’s two tracks, which is extremely authentic and well worth a visit!
Just another 200 or so metres and you have reached your destination – Folkestone Harbour! This is a working harbour with many boats and various fish stalls, and also home to Rocksalt, the town’s most famous restaurant, the sandy beach known as ‘Sunny Sands’, and the pearl in Folkestone’s crown – the Harbour Arm, home to many bars and eateries and host to many events throughout the year. Take a look at their website for event listings and opening times
Oh, and there is also a Champagne Bar housed in the lighthouse at the end. How utterly fabulous! To return to The Beach Escapes, simply retrace your steps, grab a taxi from JJ Taxis in Tontine Street or make your way up to the Bus Station and take the 160 bus to Hythe.