Living and working by the sea has many benefits, the champagne like air, stunning sunrises, not to mention the relaxing sounds of the ocean. However, many people that live on the coast still seem to choose to stay indoors for much of the day and miss this stuff. Who can blame them, with Strictly Come Dancing, Bake off and other mush like Poldark, it’s a good escape from Theresa May, Brexit etc in the News! So…getting back to the point, quite a few of our local Whitstable yoga clients have been getting in touch asking for our thoughts on where to practice yoga and mindfulness in the great outdoors around town. We thought we’d pull together this short article to help them out, these are our favourites, admittedly not all free, but we did say “best”.
1. The Quiet Beach At The Battery Near Seasalter
The Battery is a large wooden structure a few kilometres away from the centre of Whitstable. It was originally built to house sailors studying the use of firearms, when it became surplus to those requirements it was converted into a rest home for those same sailors during the early twentieth century. Quite a few years later, the building and land were bought by the Shaftesbury Society, a charity that provided seaside holidays for children with learning difficulties, an all together more friendly function! The Battery was the perfect location for this kind of work, given its proximity to the water. In the late 90’s it was sold again to a private buyer, who now holds artists retreats there. The beach in and around the house is private, but it is perfectly possible to setup near the waterline without disturbing the owners. Its worth noting that the beach has pebbles so it may not make a great base to place a mat to do asana / yoga poses. but a blanket should be fine for sitting and practicing mindfulness ‘on the mat’.
Where: The Battery can be reached by walking along the beach front from The Old Neptune public house. Along the way you will pass the Tennis Courts, the actor Peter Cushing’s House, Wave Crest (a terrace of large colourful Victorian houses), beach huts, a caravan park, and more houses. The walk is joyful, and if you enjoy beach combing you’ll be in for a treat. Loads of beautiful pebbles and shells sift through!
When: mid-afternoon is best, with the chance to catch the sunset and the local bunnies coming down onto the beach to watch it.
2. Chilling On A Stand Up Paddle Board in Whitstable Bay
Stand up paddle boarding is a natural complement to Yoga, the sport itself is hugely helpful for developing core strength and balance, whilst the board itself, if you have a large one, makes a fantastic yoga mat if conditions are favourable. In Whitstable, stand up paddle boards can be rented from Oyster Coast Watersports by the hour, these come with a buoyancy aid and a wetsuit if required.
Where: Oyster Coast Watersports operates out of Longbeach in Whitstable. Longbeach sits to east of Whitstable harbour and can be reached by following signs to the Lobster Shack / East Quay venue. The Oyster Coast Office is part of the Whitstable Sea Scouts Compound.
When: The best time to hit the water will be in the afternoon when the sun has moved a bit further around the sky, you’ll also want to be out when tide is on its way in. This way it is safer and you will not need to walk the board out across the sand and mud.
Price: £15 per person per hour
4. Standing On The Tip Of The Street Whitstable
The street is a half mile long shingle ridge reaching out into the sea below the Tankerton Slopes. It has been a prominent feature at low tide for hundreds of years, but its origin has been the subject of much speculation. Some suggest a Roman road (random) or a low tide jetty (unlikely given its large size). It is far more likely to be a natural feature resulting from the interplay river and tidal currents, a net result of longshore drift. The resulting accumulation has developed out at sea to right angles to the shore, until it meets Thames Estuary currents that cause it to turn slightly eastwards.
Where: from whitstable town centre follow the road to the harbour walk around it and head for the coast path that you can pickup outside the Hotel Continental. Then keep walking for 250 meters until you get to a house called The Beacon House on your right. When you do, turn left and look out to sea, If the tide is out, the Street will be in front of you. The best position to get some peace should be right at its seaward tip.
When: just before low tide, this is when the waters unveil the Street in all its magnificence. Even better a low tide at sunset, in the summer, the mighty sun falls over the Isle of Sheppey, and The Street provides a brilliant viewpoint for this.
5. Long Rock Nature Reserve Between Whitstable and Herne Bay
Long Rock, located between Whitstable and Herne Bay, is part of a significant marine reserve, the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay. Long Rock marks the point along the coast that the Swalecliffe Brook empties into the sea. Swalecliffe Brook actually starts in the the ancient Blean Woodlands before heading north across country. On the site of Long Rock there is a 400 metre wide shingle spit that has developed across the mouth of the Swalecliffe Brook, diverting it westward towards Tankerton Bay. The area is very popular with twitchers, but don’t let that put you off! They are here for good reason, up to 160 bird species have been spotted annually over the past decade.
Where: As with the Street, from Whitstable town centre follow the road to the harbour walk around it and head for the coast path that you can pickup outside the Hotel Continental. Then keep walking for 2 miles until you get to skatepark on your right. When you do, turn left and look out to sea, Longrock is in front of you. The best position to get some peace away from cyclists and other pedestrians is to head to the Herne Bay side, cross the bridge, and then double back towards seaward side
When: just before high tide, it always looks nicest when the tide is in there