Almost 30ºC and the celebration of our four years; obviously we had to borrow a Pepper and head to the coast. Botany Bay at Broadstairs has been on my list for a while, but at this time of the year there are no dogs allowed on the beach, so I scoured the Internet for dog friendly beaches in Kent, and landed on Folkestone.
As we made our way out of London, we both laughed at the memory of our Dungeness experience. So driving into Folkestone itself, we were at least relieved to be met by civilisation, although we'd stopped at a services on the way for picnic supplies just in case.
The main road leading down to the Harbour was reminiscent of Hunstanton seafront, with cars parked all the way along for beach-goers. Arriving in the afternoon meant that spaces were already taken, so we drove back on ourselves to find a quieter spot. Following signs for a footpath, we headed towards Warren Country Park and the beach that lay below the East Cliff.
We both agreed that in the heat, we could have been walking through Spanish hills and were glad of a bit of wall to sit on by the time we got down to the sea. I don't think either of us was quite expecting what we were greeted by. Where the footpath opened out onto the 'beach', there were families dotted between groynes on pebbles leading down to the sea to our right, and fishermen on concrete to the left. I'm not quite sure how I'd describe the concrete. It was like a promenade as the sea came right up and was immediately deep, but it was much wider and more vast.
We opted for concrete as it was emptier. We wanted to eat, and weren't sure how Pepper would feel about sitting by us to wait if temptation was all around. Our spot on a wall gave optimum opportunities for people and seagull watching. We weren't keen on joining the masses back the way we'd come, so we resolved to venture further after eating to see if we could find a quieter patch of beach beyond the concrete.
I'm not sure if it was the heat combined with a fairly insistent sea breeze, or our not really knowing where we were going, but the walk seemed endless. There were pretty white cliffs to enjoy on one side, a surprisingly blue sea on the other, and Pepper was clearly in her element, so it wasn't all bad. After a while, we spied what we thought was more pebbles (it's amazing how much like sand concrete looks from afar. Disappointingly deceiving.), so we decided that we'd found where we were heading.
Passing signs to the 'nudist beach', Steven suddenly seemed to be flagging, but I valiantly strode on, convinced that because they were written in chalk, they could hardly be official. Eventually we passed what felt like a warning sign informing us that the 'clothed' or 'textile' beach was very much back the way we had come. By this point, though, I could definitely tell that we were in fact heading away from concrete and onto a natural beach, so I really wasn't keen to go back. Met, however, with fully bronzed bods, I reluctantly agreed to turn around. We then spent much of our return walk feeling sheepish as we passed people who we now realised would think that the nudist beach had been our plan all along.
We took a couple more sitting stops to rest a while in the heat, and by the time we reached the car were both completely zonked. Sea air really does take it out of you! The drive back to London was a sleepy one for Pepper and me in the back. I might be biased, but I still think Norfolk beaches trump Kent's offerings. We'll see if a different one can change my mind one day.