The Shepway coast south of Hythe, incorporates another of the old original five Cinque Ports New Romney, together with seaside sandy beach mecca Dymchurch and to the far south Dungeness National Nature Reserve with RSPB Dungeness visitor centre on-site. With the stunning natural wetlands area of Romney Marsh easily accessed from all these coastal destinations, visitors have the best of sublime seaside and countryside worlds.
Romney Marsh is perfect terrain for both walkers and cyclists and a superb choice of family attractions are down this way including family farm attractions, Mazes, the classic Romney Hythe & Dymchurch railway running all the way from Hythe down to Dungeness and historic gems such as Lympne and Saltwood Castle, the Royal Military Canal, the Old Lighthouse at Dungeness and more Martello Towers are dotted along the coastline.
Romney Marsh is gaining a reputation as a cycling mecca, particularly for family cycling holidays. The superb Romney Marsh Meanders cycle pack (see the Romney Marsh Countryside Projects' webguide right to download a sample) gives details of 5 self guided cycle rounts around the stunning flat lanes of the Romney Marsh. Leisurely flat cycling, perfect for family cycle holidays, is on the menu here. The national Cycle Network (Sustrans) Route 2 weaves into the Romney Marsh for a stretch, and you can undertake longer cycle runs all the way to pretty Rye in Sussex if you're seeking a more demanding challenge. The annual Shepway Cyclethon takes place in June.
Miles and miles of footpaths criss-cross the Romney Marsh across farmland. For remote and peaceful walking, Romney Marsh is one of the best spots in the country. Walking the marshes is one of the best ways to discover the areas wildlife, from leaping marsh frogs to reed warblers. Birdwatchers will spot species such as skylarks, yellowhammers and corn buntings, before making a beeline to the RSPB reserve at Dungeness. A walking pack has been put together by the Romney Marsh Countryside Project called 'The Magic of Romney Marsh'. Contact them via the website for details and download a sample of the pack from their website.
The Kent Wildlife administered Romeny Marsh visitor centre sits near New Romney at Romney Warren (on the A259 to Dymchurch/turn left just before New Romney). The centre sits within 11 hectares on a site of national importance specifically for its population of great crested newts, alongside other important species here such as great diving beetles, small red-eyed damselfly and tree sparrows. The acid grassland plants are also of national importance and distinctive in the wetlands. Toilets and a gift shop are on-site, with hot drinks and tourist information available on the Romney Marsh. It's well worth calling into the Romney Marsh visitor centre for details leaflets, maps and more information on the marshes first, before heading in to explore.
Kent Wildlife Trust, Romney Marsh Visitor Centre, Dymchurch Road, New Romney, Kent TN28 8AY. Tel. 01797 369487. Open March to October: Open all week from 11am to 4pm. October to March, open Sundays 11am to 4pm.
Hythe in Kent was one of the original five historic Cinque ports (see the official Cinque Ports history webguide linked right for details), and its central position between Hastings and New Romney and Dover and Sandwich gave this cinque port considerable weight and importance in its day. Located just a mere 4 miles west of Folkestone in the Shepway district of Kent (so named after 'sheep way' and those who drove their sheep across Romney Marsh and the Downs at onetime), Hythe is a quieter seaside base than Folkestone with a delightful promenande and access to safe sea bathing. The Romney Hythe & Dymchurch historic Railway starts at Hythe and rolls on all the way down to Dungeness.
Sandy beaches at both New Romney and Dymchurch offer a host of watersports, including jet skiing, windsurfing and water skiing, plus fine sheltered family sandy beaches. Move to the far south and the distinctive flat shingles of Dungeness, the largest shingle area in Europe, are now part of a National Nature Reserve and site of Special Scientific Interest. Popular with birdwatchers, especially in Spring and Autumn when migratory birds flock to the area, there are six viewing hides across the nature reserve including one at the Dungeness RSPB centre. The wetlands of Romney Marsh are also a site of special scientific interest and a hotspot for the great crested newt. Find out more at the Kent wildlife's Romney Marsh visitor centre near New Romney.