A quaint seaside town yet to be discovered
Why Deal I hear you say? Well, I’m going to let you into a little secret, Deal is a true gem for so many reasons.
Lady Irene and a little one on the beach
Pastel coloured cottages, working fishing boats, quirky little shops and steeped in history back to the Romans.
Not only is it ideal for a day trip, but you could also turn it into a mini-break and discover more of the region.
Ahh the sea air
It had been years since we’d visited Deal, and you would have thought that as it’s in our home county of Kent, we would have headed there more frequently. But, as it’s so often the case, we travel further afield and are guilty of bypassing those things on our doorstep.
Well, this was being rectified, and as soon as Gary and I jumped out of the car, I felt the sea-breeze blow across my face, the sun was shining and I thought this is why I love the English seaside.
The Shoreline along Deal
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The History Bit
Along this little stretch of the English coastline is said to be where Julius Caesar first stepped foot on British turf. I’m leaving that open to discussion, however, what is known, about this three-mile area of shoreline, are the three defence castles that King Henry VIII had built during the 16th-century.
Entrance across the moat, Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle in the south is the plusher of the three and has some incredible gardens.
Deal Castle around 1 ½ mile north is a lot more functional than Walmer and then 1 ½ mile further north is (or was) Sandown Castle. The remains that are now visible a have been turned into a lovely seated garden, maintained by the local residents.
Sandown Castle Community Garden
As I said, we arrived at Deal by car, and if you park slightly on the outskirts of town along the coastline, then there are no parking charges and you can enjoy the walk into town.
A working beach
We started at the southern end of Deal, by Walmer lifeboat station. The RNLI run a fantastic charity that has been saving lives around the British shores since 1824. More often than not, the stations are staffed throughout the day, and you can peek in and check to see if you can take a look around. If you’d enjoy a deeper journey through the RNLI’s history, head to the Historic Dockyard Chatham (also in Kent).
Walmer Lifeboat Station, Deal
When I say the beach!!!!
Now I’d just like to say, don’t think that when you arrive at Deal, there are going to be endless golden sandy beaches, it pebbles all the way here. But that’s what add to its charm, this is a working beach as well as a place to have fun skimming stones across the waves.
Morning Haze on the beach
You can wander amongst fishing boats that have just been hauled ashore with the “catch of the day”. And I’d lay money on the fact you’ll be grabbing some fish and chips by the end of the day.
Take a moment to head to the bandstand, this was erected in memory of the Deal barracks bombing. On 22 September 1989, the IRA exploded a bomb at the Royal Marines School of Music. The building collapsed, killing 11 marines and wounding another 21. This was an extremely emotional time for Deal and the whole country alike.
Halt who goes there?
As you head towards Deal town, you’ll pass the historic castle. Which is quite low-key in castle terms; however, it was built as an artillery fort and had sixty-six firing positions, to fend off the oncoming seafaring enemy.
Deal Castle from the costal path
Greenwich Mean Time
A little further along on your left you’ll notice the ‘Timeball Tower’.
At precisely 1pm every day the time ball drops, this would have been a signal to the ships out at sea and enabling them to set their timepieces accurately.
This time ball received an electric signal directly from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
The Time Ball Tower
Strolling the pier
Promenading past quaint B&B’s, seaside pubs and beautifully kept houses, we arrive at the pier. I must admit it’s not the most eye-catching pier; however, it is Deal’s 3rd iteration as the two previous have succumbed to gales and the Second World War.
Channel View Guest House
The Ship Inn
The present one which was opened in 1957, has since undergone extensive repairs. At the entrance is a half-moon seating area, where you can sit and watch the seaside world go by.
Entrance to the Pier
Just because the pier hasn’t got the lure of the “end-of-pier” arcades, it doesn’t detract from the pleasure you get strolling out above the waves and amongst the locals trying to catch their evening meal. The view back across the bay is one to savour.
The view down the pier
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After our promenade, we head a couple of streets back to discover what Deal’s traditional old town has to offer.
The Town Hall
Wandering through most High Streets today you’ll get the modern touch creeping in, and Deal is no exception; however, here it feels like Deal is also making an effort to keep with its old-style storefront facades.
High Street Shop
The No Name shop and Allsorts
Colourful boutiques, art galleries, antique shops mixed with bric-a-brac, traditional old fishmongers and butchers and of course plenty of cafes and tea shops.
The High Street
The area of Deal old town that I loved exploring was amongst the tiny lanes and courtyards. Old fisherman’s cottages painted in pastel colours, you can tell that the locals here are proud of where they live.
Colourful Griffin Street
Farrier Street to the sea
Wandering along Middle Street is a must, there is so much architectural history and so many beautifully kept buildings of times gone by. Though I think in the days of smuggling a few old yarns could have been told amongst these streets.
Historic Middle Street
Although Deal has a strong nautical presence, it is also a town with plenty of literary history and been associated with Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.
What a “Carry On”
Deal has been the home of a few familiar faces, anyone that remembers the “Carry On” films will most certainly recall Charles Hawtrey. He lived in Deal for the last 20 years of his life and was a colourful character regularly seen about town.
Charles Hawtrey’s house
Spoilt for choice
What Deal certainly doesn’t lack are its choices in eateries.
I felt it catered for all pockets, you could sit in a stylish restaurant or café, or you could choose to grab yourself some freshly caught fish and eat it on the seafront.
How about fish 'n' Chips?
Although, if the local ales were tempting you head to one of the many traditional old pubs.
The Kings Head
I won’t leave it so long, next time
My lasting memories of Deal will always be how it’s kept its old traditional charm but, not looking dated. Yes, it has the old familiar amusement arcades and kiss-me-quick gift shops, but it also has plenty of proud locals happy to share their piece of old seaside England.
Ohh and I can’t forget the squawking seagulls hovering above waiting to fleece you of your fish and chips.
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Inspired to visit Deal, Kent?
Why not stay overnight and stroll along the seaside in the evening sunshine?
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