Last week we took an impromptu coddiwomple to Sandwich in Kent as I had some work holiday owed to me and wanted to make the most of it.

We found a good, last minute accommodation deal  on an online booking site, and left home fairly early Friday morning and picked a meandering route across the rolling North Downs, through many oldy-worldy villages deep in the heart of Kent. It never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful our corner of the world is.

Situated on the east Kent coast on the River Stour, Sandwich is one of the five Cinque Ports (Old French meaning Five Harbours), but its history probably goes back to Roman times, given its closeness to the Richborough Roman Fort. Nowadays it is a beautifully preserved medieaval town consisting of ancient buildings, traditional pubs, quaint shops and cafes and of course the world famous St George’s golf course. It is also “twinned” with three other towns, Honfleur, Ronse and Sonsbeck; I’m not sure how that works when twins are just two, but that’s just how my brain works!

We had booked into The Bell Hotel, located right on the river, and arrived just before 11.00am. This coincided perfectly with checking-out time and we managed to nab one of the four parking spaces available outside. Thank you Parking Angels! We couldn’t actually check-in until 2pm, so we made ourselves known to the reception staff so we could leave the car and explore. Tim was very impressed by the revolving door in the entrance!  We had planned a circular walk along part of the Saxon Shore Way to Sandwich Bay and back. We figured out that this 5-ish mile walk meant that we would be back in plenty of time to try out one of the cafes for cake when we got back!

The flat walk took us along the river to start with, before branching off across the golf course. I was a bit concerned about low flying golf balls but all was good! The footpath was well marked out, and easy to follow, especially across the golf course. Tim was a bit perplexed as to why the stone markers had the Batman emblem painted on them. It took me a minute to work out that they were actually Saxon helmets, seeing as we were on the Saxon Shore Way! It gave us a chuckle though!

We heard our first Skylarks of the summer and we also spotted a seal having fun in the sea when we reached the beach. Even though the skies looked decidedly ominous, we were so lucky with the weather, it was just a tad blustery. It was also a lot drier underfoot than we had anticipated, given the amount of rain that we’ve had recently. The walk was varied, with plenty to see. I was especially taken by some of the impressive properties overlooking the sea!


By the closing stages of this 2-half hour walk, my legs were telling me that enough was enough and it was time for tea and cake. We always feel like we’ve earnt a good cake if we’ve had a decent walk! It gave us a chance to mooch around the narrow streets of the town before we settled on The Sandwich Bakery Company cafe. The owner couldn’t have been more welcoming or helpful. Yes I know we probably should have had a sandwich in Sandwich, but we wanted cake and that’s all there is to it! I’m not sure they touched the sides, all I can tell you was that one was a Chelsea Bun type thing and the other had icing and a cherry on top. They were freshly baked that morning in their sister shop in Dover, and were bloomin’ delicious.

After a rest, Tim had decided he wanted a pie for dinner (he’s quite particular about his pies, they have to have a top, sides and a bottom, preferably not soggy!) and I hoped I’d found the answer to his prayers in The Crispin Inn, opposite our hotel. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint, plus I had one of the best steaks I’ve eaten for a very long time, washed down with Pinot Blush of course!  We followed this up by another stroll around the town before stopping in The New Inn for another libation. Now, Sandwich may be a small town, but its narrow streets form a maze, which can easily confuse you if you’ve had a few drinks, so our walk back to the hotel may have taken a little longer than it should have done, but we got there in the end!

We woke to bright blue skies on Saturday morning so we thought we’d walk along the riverside, past the small river boats moored along the picturesque banks and find another route up through the town before checking out of the hotel and heading home. There is something very restful about rivers.

Out of season, Sandwich feels quiet and sleepy and everybody we met was friendly and helpful. There is still plenty we didn’t see and we have every intention of going back another time.

The Coddiwomple Lady