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A whistle-stop tour of pretty Whitstable

Europe

London - There are now so many DFLs (people Down From London) in Whitstable that the moniker is redundant.

Most have chosen to stay put and enjoy the much better life.

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The Royal Native Oyster Stores at Whitstable.

After all, the pretty working seaside town ranged along the beach, with the Isle of Sheppey across the water and the rusting WWII Maunsell Sea Forts on the horizon, is an idyllic spot, and it’s only 70 minutes on the train from St Pancras.

Swim at lunchtime in summer, picnic on the beach, cycle along the long stretches of marshland on a light-filled evening.

Whitstable is also an excellent refuelling stop for cyclists or walkers following the Saxon Shore Way, a 160-mile seafaring stretch between Gravesend in Kent and Hastings in East Sussex.

A slow meandering cycle from Ramsgate, via Margate to Whitstable — a 23-mile leg — is do-able in a day with gallery, ice-cream and antique shop stops.

Go two miles beyond Whitstable, to Seasalter and the Michelin-starred Sportsman pub and you are in for a treat. There has been an inn at this spot since 1642 and the food is largely sourced from the surrounding area. The £45 (about R850) lunchtime tasting menu gives you a flavourful overview.

 

 

A photo posted by Jenny Stabler (@jennys._lens) on

 

Whitstable has plenty to offer foodies. On a sunny day, stock up in the Whitstable Produce Store and head to the beach with its stacks of glinting oyster shells.

Or queue at VC Jones on Harbour Street, a fish and chip institution. You might not fit down Squeeze Gut Alley, one of the tiny streets, after a feasting. If slurping oysters all day long appeals, set your sails for the Whitstable Oyster Festival, starting on July 21. It’s not just a celebration of shellfish — there’s music from the Cuban Brothers and Goldie and the Comedy Improv All-Stars are performing.

Local artists, like the weaver Margo Selby, open their doors for the occasion. Margo’s studio is in a former abattoir where she weaves art works and designs for high street shops like West Elm.

 

 

A photo posted by Lu Oram (@lu_oram) on

 

Those sleeping over need to book well in advance. The Fisherman’s Huts are a popular choice and cost from £85 B&B, whitstablefishermanshuts.com.

In the quieter Kent countryside is The Linen Shed, in Boughton-under-Blean, seven miles away, which offers French flouncy rooms and decadent breakfasts. Rooms start from £85 including breakfast, thelinenshed.com.

Even if you come only for a few hours, that blast of sea air on this smart stretch of seaside will sustain you for days.

TRAVEL FACTS

Margo Selby, margoselby.com, is open from 10-5pm during the Oyster Festival, which runs from July 21-31, tickets from £14, whitstableoysterfestival.co.uk

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