As I was in England for the first time since last year, it seemed appropriate that I would visit Pegwell Bay.
Alessandra drove us from London and along the Thanet Way. Before we went on to the beach, we had lunch at the Sir Stanley Gray bar of the Pegwell Bay hotel. The pub was previously known as Moonlighters because of its connection to the smugglers who would use the tunnels through the cliff faces.
Pegwell Bay was a popular resort for Victorians. Its pleasure pier was dismantled, but we could still see the remains of wooden jetties and the coast guard station.
With its chalk cliffs formed under subtropical seas and since shaped by erosion, the bay was interesting not only for geologists, but many would come to collect shells and fossils. I read that Charles Darwin frequented the area.
The beaches here are famously the site of three important landings in Britain. The Romans in 43AD, the Saxons in 449AD and Saint Augustine who brought Christianity in 597AD.
As we walked along the coastline, I noticed a significant number of birds in the salt marshes. It was largely unrecognisable that much of this area was based on landfill.
We drove up a little to Cliffsend, and saw the remains of Ramsgate International Hoverport, which once linked to Calais. The hoverport was demolished in 1987 (the remaining cross-Channel hoverport in Dover was closed in 2005).
Just beside the port, we stopped for a while by the replica Viking longship, Hugin. This was a gift from Denmark in 1949 to mark the 1500th anniversary of the landing of Hengist and Horsa – the brothers who led the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. It was sailed across the North Sea to Broadstairs before being moved to its current location. I vaguely remember visiting the boat as a child.