THE LOCKDOWN WALKING TEST 2020

This is a pictorial walking diary with a difference. It wasn't a matter of choice when to start walking and my wife and I didn't get to choose the dates or itinerary either. Those details were decided by the government of the day.

This series of 'health walks' took place during the first and strictest phase of the 2020 coronavirus lockdown and to comply with government guidance they had to start and finish each day at home.

We're extremely fortunate to live at the north east tip of Kent on the Isle of Thanet, surrounded by beaches, parks and one of the green belts separating the districts main towns.

The eight week period proved to be the ultimate test of where we'd chosen to make our home and our neighbourhood passed that test with flying colours. It's hard to think of anywhere better to be locked down and therefore, anywhere better to live.

The following pictures, that are not in any particular order, were all taken within three miles or an hour's walk from our home on my pocket iPhone, between 20th March and 10th May 2020. We walked most days - between five and six days each week - and averaged around five miles each time.

The first weekend of the lockdown and we were off on a brisk stroll across Cliftonville's beaches to Margate.

A super quick, isolated, turnaround break. It was our first lockdown health walk and though beautiful and bright with rich blue skies, it was probably the coldest.

Northdown Park, at one end of our road, also provided a regular start and finish for our walks.

Our favourite beach leading to Botany Bay is just a few hundred yards from our home. It has broad open sands that are backed by incredible rolling grass dunes.

The Ridings, at the sea end of our road, is our much-loved green, cliff-top link to the Botany Bay Hotel where (in more normal times) we often spend Sunday lunchtimes.

On several occasions over lockdown we skirted the golf course at North Foreland down to Kingsgate Bay and Joss Bay.

St Peter's Footpath, linking Margate and Broadstairs, proved to be a regular cross country 'link' for our health walks.

East Northdown is a beautiful tiny 'village' on the edge of Cliftonville.

Kingsgate Bay has some incredible caved cliffs.

Despite decades living and walking here locally, we still discovered many established public footpaths that we'd completely overlooked in the past.

Dane Valley.

North Foreland Lighthouse.

A super quick, isolated, turnaround break.

Dane Park.

Foreness.

Palm Bay

Northdown Park.

Beautiful Botany Bay.

A lane near Westwood, you'd never know you were just a few hundred yards from the district's main shopping centre.

An Oast House and a Lighthouse.

The steps from Margate Main Sands.

Donkeys, Lamas and goats near the village of Reading Street.

Margate Harbour.

Drapers Mill - on St Peter's Footpath.

An evening walk at Walpole Bay.

Kingsgate Bay.

St Peter's Footpath.

Kingsgate.

North Foreland Lighthouse.

Hang Glider - a regular above the cliffs and beach at Botany Bay.

Northdown Park - evening walk.

Botany Bay.

Northdown Park.

Walpole Bay shortly before sunset.

A super quick, isolated, turnaround break.

Botany Bay.

Leafy Broadstairs.

Historic Reading Street.

Kingsgate Avenue.

Botany Bay and one of its incredible chalk stacks that jut out into the sea.

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Around a decade ago my daughter Natasha, who'd been away to university and got herself a cracking job in the heart of London, called me to say that she intended to settle down with her partner and start a family.

"I'll be coming back home of course. Well, Ollie and I both had idyllic childhoods growing up in Thanet and we wouldn't want anything less for our own kids".

Ten years on, they too went through the strictest part of lockdown whilst both also working from home and with three young children. They live in another part of Thanet and through the wonders of social media I know they have hundreds of beautiful photographs out walking and cycling with their family over the same lockdown period.

Their home also passed the lockdown walking test 2020 - as would every other home in Thanet, with so much to see and do within an hour's stroll.

Just imagine what Thanet is like when art galleries, fun parks and the rest are open and buzzing.

Thanet - whichever town or village - it's the perfect place to live!

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Special thanks to my super walking partner and beautiful wife Sandy.

During the first lockdown period she provided help and support to vulnerable family members including her 95 year old mother, who sadly slipped, broke her hip and suffered an infection of covid 19. The walks we did also provided Sandy with a welcome diversion from the pressures she endured for many weeks fighting to save her business (built over decades) and then finally making the harrowing decision to close it completely, with all the incredibly stressful ramifications that involved. It cost her dearly, but she walked away with her head held high.

A very special lady indeed!

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Important note:

This walking 'project' took place during an awful period in history where nurses, doctors and carers were risking their lives and many people were dying.

It was in no way meant to be flippant or uncaring - far from it. It was simply a positive way to deal with the mental stress of lockdown.

My long-term hope is that this blog post just may encourage some of those wonderful, brave medical and care workers to come to live and work in a beautiful part of the world, where they would be truly welcomed and highly valued. In a place they could make a real difference.

VISIT THANET

TAKE A DIFFERENT VIEW

Clive Hart