Where do you go with your bicycle when the sun shines in the U.K?
You go to the seaside!
A few months before the cycle I read about the ‘Crab and Winkle Way’ a six-mile disused railway line which runs between the towns of Canterbury and Whitstable. In 1830, Canterbury and Whitstable Railway was at the cutting edge of technology. Known affectionately as the ‘Crab and Winkle Line’ from the seafood for which Whitstable was famous. It was the third railway line ever to be built and also the first in the world to take passengers regularly.
It isn’t long before we disembark the train and a delicious aroma of baked goods entice us towards a tiny farmers market beside the train station. We top up on fresh coffee and warm pastries before hitting the road.
Pedalling out of Canterbury we powered up a hill and looked back over a city surrounded by a quilt of green, with its impressive church spires .
The tall grasses tickles my legs as the path narrows. While our wheels crunch the pebbly gravel the route takes us under old bridges covered in graffiti and through batches of shady trees. We cycle under the canopy of Blean Woods, one of the largest areas of ancient broad-leaved woodland in southern Britain. We fight flying insects off with our hands and our attention soon diverts to the freshness of salty sea air and the seagulls squawking overhead. The town of Whitstable hits us like the fine spray of a wave.
The signposts happily guide us to the harbour where the fluffy clouds and the blue sky make the scene before us picture perfect with the weatherboard cottages and rows of fisherman’s huts dotting the harbour. There is a collection of people exploring the seafront. Children digging in the muddy water, teenagers sailing in tiny boats and everyone busy sampling the local seafood.
The fresh seafood looks so good! It is displayed to make your tummy rumble and there is a wide range to choose from. The crispy skewered prawns covered in sweet garlic are sizzling on the grill out in the sunshine. Shiny oysters wait in huge bundles on ice demanding to be opened with a little help from the white apron servers.
Chilled red lobsters are lined up like soldiers awaiting a battle and at a cost of £10 each they don’t have much of a chance of winning anything. So as we rest our legs by the sea our taste buds are tantalised. We greedily consume the sweet white meats of prawns, oysters and two whole lobsters with the help of a bottle of wine.
Prior to cycling back to Canterbury we lock the bicycles and explore the harbour and part of the town admiring the quirky buildings and the seaside atmosphere. When the sun starts to sink we are back on our bikes making our way back to the train station with speed.
The ‘Crab and Winkle Way’ is a very short yet fun ride to do on a sunny day and the seafood treats to be found in Whitstable are an added bonus. I can now understand why the train ride was so popular all those years ago!