The Year of the Coast 2023 celebrates the best of England’s incredible coastline and marks the creation of the 2,700-mile England Coast Path, the longest marked walking route in Europe. Walk a beautiful stretch of the England Coast Path in White Cliffs Country taking in the iconic coastline and discover our rich heritage, fabulous culture and outstanding natural beauty. Walking the path won't put a strain on your budget - the coast path is free to access, making it an affordable short-break or longer holiday activity (or build your whole holiday around walking the coast path).
Part of the amazing 2,700 mile Coast Path includes a 29 mile continuous walking route along the north Kent coast, where you start in Whitstable with stunning views of the Isle of Sheppey are guaranteed. The trail then leads you into Swale where the shingle beaches start to give way to saltmarsh and mudflats. The Swale estuary teems with wildlife, and in the winter months is swarming with thousands of wintering birds. You will then be led past Faversham Creek, along the seawalls between Faversham and Oare where you pass through Kent Wildlife Trust’s Oare Marshes Nature Reserve. As you continue on the path you enter Conyer Creek, before heading back to the Swale estuary, now less than 1 mile away, across the Swale channel, from the Isle of Sheppey. Here you pass the remains of the old ferry terminal for the island, long disused, before reaching and crossing Milton Creek, near Sittingbourne. The trail leaves the coast around the industrial complex and port at Ridham. Before returning to the seawall towards Kingsferry Bridge near Iwade, close to Swale rail station where the trail ends.
This recently opened coastal path is a truly amazing adventure and one not to be missed. You can find out more information on the route, as well as the entire 2,700 mile path here.
As mentioned, the campaign encourages more people to explore, embrace and enjoy all there is to do at the water's edge. England's coast is more than 185 million years old and is celebrated for being among the most diverse in the world. This is especially true in Swale, where within just a few miles you can see everything from award winning beaches, to picturesque harbours and thriving nature reserves.
Perhaps whilst walking along the new North Kent coastal path, or if you are just looking to plan a trip to the sea, look no further than Swale!
A year-round destination
Swale attracts visitors all year round, particularly the Isle of Sheppey which can be thought of as a traditional seaside experience. With golden sand at Leysdown on Sea, classic, nostalgic memories are guaranteed, including award winning beaches, ice cream and seaside holidays like they used to make them. But keep an eye out as you are a step away from so much more!
Blue Flag bathing beaches are located at Minster Leas, Sheerness on Sea and Leysdown on Sea. RNLI Lifeguards are on duty from May for weekends and bank holidays, and then full time from the middle of July to the beginning of September, annually, so you can be sure to safely enjoy the coast. Thanks to their stunning views, pristine sands and shingle, visitors flock to these beaches year after year to catch their fill of British sun and sea.
There are a number of nationally famous attractions just a stone’s throw away from the coastline, from Theatres and Cinemas to Nature Reserves and Country Parks, all of which contribute to giving the Borough its unique character and charm.
Fresh air and exercise
There's nothing better than getting some fresh sea air - be that during the warm summer months or on a bracing winter walk. If the 29 mile coastal path is not to your fancy, along Swale’s coast you can get plenty of fresh air and exercise from a gentle stroll to some white-knuckle activities.
From Sheerness to Minster, you can take a 2 mile walk along the seafront, never being more than a stone's throw from the water's edge. Further along the coastline, the Isle of Harty Trail can be enjoyed, passing through breath-taking nature reserves and plenty of history. In the opposite direction, the historic town of Queenborough offering a stunning harbour and excellent panoramic views.
If you'd rather something a little more energetic, there's plenty of clubs and organisations offering opportunities to experience sailing along the coastline of Swale and the three populated areas of Faversham, Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey. Jetstream Tours operate seasonally from the All Tide Landing and provide an ideal opportunity to explore our coastline.
History and Heritage
The Swale channel is a worked stretch of water, where traditional barges race and modern shipping continues. There are many ports and harbours along our north Kent coastline to be experienced by all.
Queenborough Harbour is a historic landmark and a working harbour. Sir Francis Drake sailed to Queenborough to reduce the number of his crew and it was invaded by the Dutch in 1667. 2017 was the 350th anniversary of 'The Battle of the Medway' and many maritime visitors were welcomed rather than repelled at Queenborough Harbour. Legend has it that Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton also had a residence in the town. The harbour offers a range of services with moorings available and an all tide landing.
Faversham Creek as a strong maritime history in boat building and hosts an annual Nautical Festival. The Faversham Creek Trust (which aims to rebuild the maritime heritage of Faversham) is a great source of information both historical and current with links to many Faversham maritime businesses, groups and sailing organisations. Visit Standard Quay the far end of Abbey Street which has plenty to offer including shopping, eating, mooring and living history - open seven days a week with free on-site parking.
Medway and Swale Estuary Partnership formed of local and statutory organisations working to enhance and raise awareness of the area's importance both ecologically and historically. More information about the work of the partnership, current projects and some great images can be found on the MSEP website.
Food and drink
There's more to the coast than just sticks of rock – from traditional seaside cafes and fish and chips, to international cuisine, all can be found here close to the water’s edge. Whilst experiencing the maritime views, you will be sure to find pubs, restaurants and cafes serving local produce in both traditional and modern settings.
So whether you want the humble battered cod, or would prefer to try something a little more fancy, check out the many options available here - Swale certainly has everything you could need.
Places to stay
Whilst exploring and embracing the many experiences Swale has to offer, you can easily extend a day visit into a short break and it is an option not to be missed!
With plenty to see and do along the coast, you can choose to rest your head at one of many traditional bed and breakfasts on the maritime setting of the Isle of Sheppey, or perhaps a country cottage in the North Downs. Alternatively, you could try our range of Mulberry Cottages in the local surrounding villages of Sittingbourne or you might decide to go au natural with a fun weekend of camping with sites across the entire Borough!
Whatever your accommodation requirements and preferences, you’ll be able to find it in Swale, where coast and country live side by side and nothing is ever too far from the water. Check out our website for full details of accommodation available in the Borough.
All this and more is available right along the coast in Swale - so what better time than 2023 to explore life at the water's edge?
Find out more about 2023 - Year of the Coast on the England's Coast website.