Whitstable Weekend: Seafood and Seaside

Whitstable FishermenIn the latest of our trips around Britain, we headed to the north coast of Kent and the charming seaside town of Whitstable in search of good pubs, great oysters and a little adventure. Samuel Johnson famously said that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life - but that's arguably a little outdated now. Nowadays, when a man is tired of London, more often than not, he just needs a little trip to the coast. 

Our latest seaside adventure took us out to the fresh air, beautiful views and famous seafood of Whitstable. For the uninitiated, Whitstable is a little seaside enclave with bags of character, dozens upon dozens of great pubs, and miles of exploration-ready coastline. But more than anything else, what drew us out to this particular patch of great British seaside was Whistable's best-known item of local grub, the oyster. Oysters have been caught and eaten at Whitstable since Roman times. That means the town has had quite a number of years to perfect the art of preparing and eating the things. And perfect it they have. 

Our first stop, after zipping out of the capital with just our faithful pup for company, was for a few of these celebrated molluscs. On a recommendation from a friend with a discerning palate, we settled at a table in the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company's restaurant. We started by tearing through a dozen rock oysters - they tasted delicious and couldn't have been any fresher. We followed this with more traditional seafood fare - beer battered local cod and chips - all washed down with a perfect pint of Guinness. 

Appetites dealt with (and with a few excess calories to deal with, not to mention a furry companion desperate to stretch his legs a little) there was still far more exploring to be done. We took ourselves towards the coastline itself, and walked into a stiffening sea breeze. Starting out along Long Beach we pass the rows of colourful, wooden beach huts looking out over the Kent sea. We walk on, along miles of pebbly beach that crunches and clatters beneath our feet. Open country - wild, rugged, but no less beautiful for it - skirts the sea edge.

As the temperature drops in tune with the sun, we dip into our pub choice for the early evening, The Sportsman. A Michelin-starred gastro pub, there has been an inn on this site since at least 1642. The Michelin star only came in 2008, mind you. The food is incredible. The beer isn't far behind. The views - out into wild Kent countryside, in particular - are stunning. We stayed longer than we ought to, and ate greedily of yet more incredible local-caught seafood.

With the pub growing busier by the minute and our pup in need of a little peace and quiet, we headed out for our home for the evening: a fisherman's hut looking out to sea. It may sound an unglamorous home, but this was no ordinary hut. The Whitstable fisherman's huts were originally used by local cockle farmers but have been lovingly restored and turned into beautiful accommodation, right on the waterfront. We fell asleep - dog first, of course - to the sound of the sea wind whistling, to gentle waves lapping, and happily-full of some of the freshest and best seafood we had ever eaten. The next time city life leaves you feeling a little tired, head to the coast. If you're within reach of Whitstable, make it your first port of call. Just be sure to arrive hungry...