Pegwell Bay Country Park

Retracing historic landing sites at a coastal nature reserve.




1.5 miles (2.6kms)

0ft (0m)

About the walk

For birders or any lover of wild places, the country park and nature reserve at Pegwell Bay is a wonderful spot. You get a fine view of the bay from the car park if you can bag a shoreline space. If you take to your feet, even for a short distance, you’re bound to see dozens of different birds and plants, and perhaps even a seal or two. Information boards at intervals tell you what you’re looking at, and much about the history of the local area. There are picnic benches too.

Pegwell Bay Country Park

The country park forms part of a much larger national nature reserve encompassing the entire bay and extending south of the Stour estuary towards Sandwich. This walk covers only a small section near the car park, but even this limited area contains a remarkable range of coastal habitats. Within a few paces you can find saltmarsh, mudflats, rocky shoreline and grassland scrub, supporting a flourishing range of species. There’s a fine dune system on the Sandwich side of the bay, and a scenic belt of chalk cliffs fringing the Ramsgate headland. It is hard to believe that this glorious wildlife haven was a landfill dump until the late 1970s.

Pegwell is noted for rare orchids and wetland birds. Songbirds, butterflies, lizards and dragonflies inhabit the bushy undergrowth just behind the shoreline. Oystercatchers and redshanks live here all year, while sanderlings, turnstones and plovers spend the winter spuddling about in the bay, returning to their Arctic breeding grounds in summer.

Walk directions

From the car park follow the shoreline path south, with the sea on your left, and enjoy the scenic open views across the bay. Waymarked signs on posts indicate the various trails within the reserve; follow the black and blue (long trail) markers. In about 300yds (274m) pass a bird hide to your left, overlooking a crescent-shaped lagoon.

Continue following the main path, bearing to your right around the aprons of tidal saltmarsh on the seaward side (these are restricted areas for nesting or roosting birds). In about another 300yds (274m) reach a line of short concrete pillars.

Head to your left here down some steps and through a kissing gate, following the blue markers through the Stonelees nature reserve, an area of ‘dune pasture’, with a dense covering of bushes providing cover for lots of different birds. You may find Highland cattle or Exmoor ponies grazing here, with various sections fenced off.

Follow the waymarkers around the path, bearing clockwise. In another 0.25 miles (400m) or so there’s a seal viewing point. Once past this, bear right, following the path inland, then right again before you reach a kissing gate leading out towards the road.

Follow the inner path to a kissing gate and path, soon to turn left to return to the pillars. Take the left-hand path and follow the black waymarkers back to the car park on the inland path. 

Additional information

Mostly level paths; some trails may be muddy or overgrown; one short flight of steps

Varied coastal habitats

Popular dog-walking spot; keep dogs on leads within the nature reserve

OS Explorer 150 Canterbury & the Isle of Thanet

At Pegwell Bay (pay-and-display)

Pegwell Bay car park; some near the Viking Ship only open in summer

<p>Trails within the reserve may alter from time to time and temporary fencing may be in place</p>

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