As the heat rises, what better way to cool off than a dip in the Walpole Bay tidal pool on Cliftonville seafront? Escape the crowds on Margate sands by visiting this Grade II listed sea bathing pool instead. Spanning some 4 acres, the tidal pool is the biggest of its kind in the country. As a result there is plenty of space for everyone and is a wonderful spot for kids and serious swimmers alike.
In 1937 town planners looked for solutions to make seabathing in the area more accessible to holiday-makers. Sea bathing had become increasingly popular with its health benefits and resortative properties recognised. The pool was built to cater for the huge amounts of people travelling down to the Isle of Thanet to enjoy the sea. With the tidal range along this stretch of coast being so varied - low tide can sometimes get to 300 yards away from the foreshore - it's ideal for avoiding a trek to the water's edge.
When the tide is in, the pool is completely submerged, only to be revealed once the tide goes out. It was done this way so that the pool water was refreshed at every tide, clever eh? You might notice that the water is a tad chillier than you'd expect and will hit the spot if you are looking for refreshment. This is because several fresh water springs rise up through the chalk floor of the pool, making the water quality excellent.
There are some hardy souls that brave a swim all year round and my hat goes off to them. If like me you prefer your sea swimming to take place in the summer, it remains bracing and soon becomes pleasant as the body acclimatises. Because the natural chalk beach slopes gently, the far end of the pool is 6'6" deep, allowing for some proper swimming. At the beach side there is no wall so you can walk straight out into the shallows, perfect for youngsters or if you just want a paddle.
For more information about the Walpole Bay tidal pool and the community around it, have a look at The Walpole Bay Swimmers to get a feel for this great local gem. Just a 10-minute drive from Broadstairs Apartments and with some free parking it's easy to get to. Even better, why not set off on a walk or cycle around the coast from Viking Bay and bring a picnic? It takes around an hour and you can enjoy the gorgeous Isle of Thanet coastline as you go.