Folkestone; The Enigma

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Opinion Piece

Recently myself and my partner spent a weekend stay in Folkestone, I decided to review the entirety of the stay which was located in and around the Grand Burstin Hotel, the surrounding Harbour and beaches, this is part one of a 3-part article, I’ll show my views of Folkestone as a whole and of where the stayed and ate.

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Folkestone is beautiful – mostly

Folkestone is beautiful – for the most part anyway, the harbour, cliff and surrounding hills are gorgeous, from the top of the wonderfully named Road of Remembrance the ocean looks amazing, such a beautiful view. A shame then, a missed opportunity if you will that right next to the harbour is what is can only be described as a building site, being used as a lorry park currently, a closed rail station with a bridge that goes over the harbour which could very, very easily be altered to be a walkway, as from that bridge you would get some pretty views, I’ll say again, not having that bridge available as a public walkway is a missed opportunity and a shame.

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View from Road of Remembrance, including lorry park

About the holiday; we stayed during 2 themed events, Folkestone Triennial and the Folkestone beer festival, the first of which my partner noticed signs which said “Look Out”. Sadly it was only when we asked the taxi driver on the way back to the station after 2 days of holiday the significance of these signs at which he told us that the amazing but slightly out of place bamboo structure on the outskirts of the harbour was all part of the Triennial to which “Look Out” related to various art pieces that had been scattered all throughout the town that you had to spot and note down, the bamboo structure was a piece donated by Gabriel Lester to the town.

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The View from inside the bamboo structure

This makes Folkestone a bit of an enigma of sorts as on the corner right near the Grand Burstin hotel (we’ll come to this one) is a public house that, on the Friday night we arrived we witnessed the end of a fight which involved a bloodied man kicking bins and ranting of “being glassed” which security didn’t seemed to be too concerned about, a most odd situation to be greeted with on the first night of your arrival in a supposed holiday destination. But I digress the enigma is a road called The Old High Street, a beautiful cobblestone steep hill that climbs past some beautiful art shops leading to amazing restaurants and cafes with absolutely beautiful food such as the fantastic Googies (review of my evening at Googies in the second part) towards the top of the narrow road. Next to Googies is a lovely little coffee shop called Django’s, I had a quick stop-off there but I have to say that coffee was very good indeed, maybe a little weak for my well worn-in taste buds but nonetheless a delicious cup of coffee.

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The disused railway that is eerily beautiful

Along The Old High Street are a plethora of art and craft shops along with specialist and themed restaurants makes this vintage street appear solidly out of place amongst the dilapidated surroundings and is a shining light around a bipolar town. Another gem very close to the Old High Street is a fountain that as far as I could tell was on 24/7 which led to a small bridge behind which another almost hidden area; a small beautifully decorated gift shop, coffee shop (noticing a theme?). Which all lead behind the harbour and along to a small secluded and picturesque sand beach with rock pools and view of the surrounding white cliffs, it’s almost as if someone said “what makes the perfect beach?” Then someone set about and painstakingly hand crafted it, honestly the phrase ‘good things come in small packages’ is so true, the beach is private and tranquil. It’s bigger brother the shingle beach on the other side didn’t have the views on any side so if you are planning a stay try and make and concerted effort to visit the beautiful sand beach – you won’t regret it.

Folkestone seems to be in the middle of a transition phase, moving from an old school working town to an artistic and creative town alongside the old harbour, once complete – however long it takes (but please actually do it), with the vistas available the 2 ideals will mesh perfectly. great for a day out give Folkestone a visit.

2 thoughts on “Folkestone; The Enigma”

  1. A couple of things – the plan Is open up the viaduct across the Harbour as a walkway that will lead out on to the Harbour arm, which is being renovated and will be open to the public next year. It is only recently that Network Rail have closed the railway. There are plans for the seafront. Google Folkestone Harbour Company. For the Triennial Google Folkrstone Triennial. The bamboo structure is temporary and is not by yoko Ono, but is part of the Folkestone Triennial. Thankyou for a very positive review of the town.

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    • Thank you for the message, I’ve corrected the erroneous information. It’s good to hear about the harbour and seafront as there’s a lot of potential in those areas.

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