A further instalment in my series of bus journeys round Kent using bus passes – this time to Hythe. Starting at Canterbury bus station there are two bus routes to Hythe – one is the no. 16 via Hawkinge, Folkestone and Sandgate and the other, the no.18, is a more rural journey. The no. 16 is always a gold coloured double decker bus and there are three buses an hour that go direct to Hythe without having to change in Folkestone. The no. 18 operated by Stagecoach is usually a single decker and there are only a few buses a day (see the timetables online). To see a large area of southeast Kent you could go one way and return by the other bus – a more or less circular route.
This review is based on a return journey on the no. 18 bus with my husband on this occasion, instead of my friend who is my usual bus travel companion. My husband had only just received his senior bus pass and I suggested a day out in Hythe as a good initiation into bus travel. To save finding somewhere to park near the centre of Canterbury we joined the bus at Street End near where we live. We waited at the bus stop outside The Granville public house in time for the scheduled stop there at 11.32 (it had left Canterbury bus station at 11.20) It was a single decker and there were only a few other passengers when we got on. The bus wound its way through countryside, small hamlets and villages – the common land at Stelling Minnis with its grazing cows, Wheelbarrow Town, Rhodes Minnis – picking up a couple of passengers and dropping off others. Several people got on outside Sibton Park near Lyminge but I don’t know if they were staying at the Holiday Property Bond property or not. Lyminge is a fair sized village that once had a railway station on the Elham Valley line, sadly long gone. We rattled past forests, down chalk downland with grazing sheep, skirting the edge of Postling to the A20 and the large junction with the M20 where our bus headed off towards Sandling, then Saltwood (home to Saltwood Castle) and finally down the steep hill to the eastern end of Hythe town, where we got off the bus outside Waitrose, which is before the end of the route. Our journey had taken about 40 minutes.
We walked the length of the High Street which still has many independent shops and tea rooms although there is the usual large number of charity shops. We stopped at Torbay Fish and Chips for our lunch in their cafe as the fish is well cooked and the service excellent. As we continued our walk in the High Street we noticed a sign to St Leonard’s Church and Ossuary and as we’d never been before we headed up Church Hillt to see if it was open; it was, and I review separately this unique crypt, which is well worth a quick visit. Hythe is also famous for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway and the Royal Military Canal. The canal stretches for 28 miles from Seabrook near Folkestone and follows the old cliff line bordering Romney Marsh all the way to Cliff End near Hastings; it was built to aid the defences set up in case of possible invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. A footpath runs alongside the whole length of the canal.
We crossed the canal via the Ladies’ Bridge; nearby there were rowing boats for hire, and a match was in full swing at the bowls club. We walked the length of tree lined Ladies` Walk; there are cricket pitches, tennis courts and a skate park in this very sporty area. At the end of the footpath we crossed the road and made our way to the seafront. Hythe has a pebbles and shingle beach and although we saw young people paddleboarding on the calm sea we saw mainly older people sitting and strolling in the sun. There’s a promenade with space for walkers and cyclists so we turned right and headed along Western Parade to Fisherman’s Beach – so named because the fishing boats land there with their catches. There was only one boat to be seen that day and behind the black fishing huts there’s now an upmarket housing development. A Martello Tower marks the end of the beach and the beginning of the large area of MOD army training grounds and In the distance Dungeness power station was just visible through the heat haze. The Lazy Lobster shack sits on the beach here; it used to be mainly a fish shop that also served fish and chips and other seafood to eat at picnic tables on the beach but the cafe now takes up more space at the front with the fish shop (and butchers) re-located at the back. We headed back through streets of Victorian houses to the High Street to get a cup of tea; had it been Friday or Saturday we could have paid a visit to the Malthouse antiques centre which also has a cafe, however, nearby we discovered Ivy’s, which is really a restaurant, but they said it was ok for us just to have tea and cake so we sat in their terraced garden and had tea and delicious chocolate brownies until it was almost time to get our 17.10 bus back to Canterbury.
Hythe is a good place for a day out as walking is easy if you keep to the flat area between the High Street and the sea, there’s plenty things to do, lots of history and places to eat and a lot of seating by the picturesque canal.