Typical Duration: 1-2 hours
End: Whitstable Harbour
Route: National Cycle Network 1
Deriving its name from the old Victorian railway line that once linked Canterbury to Whitstable, the Crab and Winkle Way is a fantastic new cycle route that is largely traffic free. Starting at Canterbury West Train Station, the cycle path tiptoes along disused railway line, woodland and Forestry Commission tracks, eventually resting in the very authentic Whitstable Harbour.
Slopes, inclines and tricky bits
This route is generally quite flat but is dotted with a few short climbs and road sections. While perhaps not suitable for the less mobile, the surfaced pathway is easy to navigate even for the smallest and most inexperienced cyclist.
A little bit of history
The Crab and Winkle Way takes its name from the six mile railway line which ran between the towns of Canterbury and Whitstable. In May 1980, a noisy passenger locomotive, the ‘Invicta’, pulled into the platform near Whitstable Harbour carrying nearly 300 excited passengers from Canterbury. As stated in the Guinness Book of Records, the Crab and Winkle was the third railway line ever built, and when it opened was “the first regular steam passenger railway in the world”.
Look out for…
With the awe-inspiring Norman cathedral dominating the skyline, Canterbury is certainly a worthwhile detour from this cycle route. Steeped in history and heritage, Canterbury offers the perfect blend of city and countryside with its busy cobbled streets and the great River Stour running through the city. The cathedral offers testimony to faith, history and culture while other buildings such as St Augustine’s Abbey also find room to shine.
Far from the roar of traffic, the old railbed takes on a dreamy sense of timelessness in Blean Woods. An enchanting break from civilisation, Blean Woods is one of the largest areas of broad-leaved woodlands in the country. A mecca for birdwatchers, these woods offer glimpses of the fabled nightingale, willow warbler, woodpecker as well as the tree creeper and tawny owl. This is an excellent place to picnic as old wooden railway sleepers have been fashioned into a very innovative picnic area.
Near to the site and certainly worth a look is “The Winding Pond” which was originally built in 1829 to store the water that the steam engines needed to pull the passenger carriages up out of Whitstable.
Whitstable’s traditional charms, h4 arts culture and rich maritime history breathe energy and life into the busy harbour village. Its main streets are packed with craft shops and galleries, delicatessens and fashion shops trading side by side with butchers and bakers. A stop at Whitstable would not be worthwhile without sampling the fresh seafood caught on the day. Although famous for its oysters, fish and chips with a pint of good ole’ Kentish beer is the perfect end to a day of cycling…take my word for it.
Cycling the Crab and Crinkle path will take a leisurely 1-2 hours one way. To get to the start of the route, there are trains running regularly from London Victoria, Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Ashford International, Ramsgate and Margate. In Whitstable, there are regular trains to London Victoria, Margate and Ramsgate.
The Crab and Winkle Way is on National Cycle Network 1 and is regularly signposted with the route number and an image of a bicycle.