If sitting in your car for hours at the start of your break fills you with dread, consider a holiday in Whitstable, Kent. At just a 45 minute drive from London it ticks many boxes and doesn’t involve hitting any of the major roads wending down to the West Country. A quaint, English seaside town its charm offensive starts the moment you step out of the car and smell the briny, salty air that signals a working harbour.
Food miles is a popular phrase these days, with conscientious consumers making informed choices at point of purchase. You’ll know your fish supper is fresh as you watch the fishing boats making their way home from the high seas. The waters around Whitstable are alive with cockles, whelks, sole, skate and bass which is supplied to many of the town’s restaurants. For the history buffs, the town was actually built on its oyster trade. Native oysters have been harvested and cultivated in Whitstable since Roman times. Head to The Royal Native Oyster Stores for an authentic dish and a sea view. With EU protected status we reckon they know a thing or two about their fayre.
A half hour stroll along Tankerton Road from the Harbour will bring you to the popular Tankerton Slopes, so named due to the gentle grassy slopes that lead down to the beach. It’s a pebble beach but good for families. At low tide a wide expanse of sand is revealed, perfect for a race to the water’s edge. Children always run rather than walk don’t they… Once the splashing subsides pop a rug onto the grassy slope and let lunch commence. Or you could hire a Tankerton beach hut. With a gas ring provided that’s tea on tap. Heaven!
Do take time to explore Whitstable fully once you’re back in the town centre. There’s a wonderful array of independent shops it’s easy to lose track of time dipping in and out of all of the art galleries, book shops and homeware stores. One of our favourites is Harbour Books. We were in raptures as we rifled through the shelves that were crammed with books over two floors. There’s a surprisingly well-stocked children’s section and a great selection of cut-price paperbacks from just £2.99.
Much as we’d like to keep it a secret, the word about Whitstable is out. Easily do-able for a short break or longer a Whitstable holiday cottage has it all – the beach, some books and some fried bass with a dash of salt. And we didn’t even mention the Whitstable Oyster Festival…