Living on the coast has many perks, the fresh air, beautiful sunsets, not to mention the calming sounds of the ocean. Unfortunately most folks choose to stay indoors for much of the day and miss this stuff. Who can blame them, with Love Island, Versailles and other mush like Game of Thrones, its a good escape from Trump, Brexit etc in the News! Anyhow, getting back to the point, quite a few of our local Whitstable students have been getting in touch asking for our recommendations on where to practice yoga and meditation in the great outdoors around town. We decided to pull together this short-ish blog post to help them out, these are our favourites, admittedly not all free, but we did say “best”.
1. The Beach At The Battery
The Battery is a large wooden building about 1.5 miles walk away from the centre of Whitstable. It was originally built to house sailors training to use firearms, when it became surplus to those requirements it was converted into a convalescent home for those same sailors during the First World War. Many years later, the building and land were bought by the Shaftesbury Society, a charity that provided seaside holidays for children with disabilities, and all together more friendly vibe. 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 runs 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. In most cases the stones on the beach will not make a great base to place a mat to do asana, but a blanket should be fine for sitting and meditating. What a lovely spot to practice yogic breathing!
Where: The Battery can be reached by walking along the beach front from The Old Neptune. Along the way you will pass the Whitstable Tennis Courts, Peter Cushings House, Wave Crest (a terrace of large colourful Victorian houses), beachuts, a caravan park, and more houses. The walk is lovely and if you enjoy beach combing you’ll be in for a treat. Loads of beautiful pebbles and shells sift through!
When: mid-afternoon would be best, with the chance to catch the sunset and the local rabbits coming down onto the beach to watch it.
2. Onboard Greta The Thames Sailing Barge
Greta is a Thames Sailing Barge built in 1892 to be used as a working barge transporting cargo on the River Thames and the Thames Estuary. She carried ammunition, beer, grain, malt and building products. Although Greta no longer carries cargo she still plies the waters in and around Whitstable Harbour. ‘Greta’ is listed on the UK National Historic Ships Fleet Register. She took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 and is the oldest Dunkirk Little Ship that is still working today.
One of Greta’s most popular trips is to visit the Second World War army forts designed by Guy Maunsell. The Forts can be seen from Whitstable and Herne Bay. Another trip Greta regularly makes is to sail up the River Swale, under the Kingsferry Bridge to see the infamous wreck of the USS Montgomery off the Isle of Sheppey. Whilst there, the boat often draws the attention of seals and seal pups in the vicinity.
Where: Greta operates out of Whitstable Harbour from Spring (April/May) till late Summer (Sep/mid Oct). The best place to meditate appears to be towards the bow as Steve Norris’s two lovable dogs, which go out on each trip tend to stay near the stern where their kennels and Steve are located. If you bring a mat or blanket make sure it is heavy or weighed down, its easy for things to blow over the side, even though the boat does not go that fast!
When: Greta generally sets sail as the tide is coming in an often around midday, as the trips last approximately 6 hours, so you return for early evening. Don’t forget a packed lunch, the crew provide hot drinks.
Cost: £48 per person
3. Onboard a Stand Up Paddle Board
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.
Cost: £15 per person per hour
4. The Street
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
Long Rock, located between Whitstable and Herne Bay, is part of an internationally significant coastal zone, 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. This is a wonderful spot for walking meditations in Whitstable
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