Due to a lack of family accommodation and quick train travel, I’d managed to avoid Deal until a few years ago when we braved a night in a Walmer campsite. An evening in the Berry, Just Reproach and Ship, and a day exploring Middle Street later, and it was one of our favourite UK towns. The torrential rain put the damper on further camping that summer.
Since then I’ve discovered many other gems around the area. The White Cliffs trail from St Margaret’s at Cliffe is particularly attractive, and Kingsdown makes a great half-way stop between Dover and Deal.
I’d tell you Kingsdown is a bit like a small Suffolk coastal village in feel (say Eastbridge or Dunwich), but it’s got cliffs and better beer so that seems daft.
The shingle beaches made for very pleasant exploration, but most of the visitors were enjoying the beer garden of the Zetland Arms, one of the few genuine UK beachfront pubs. I seem to be one of the few folk willing to stand up for Shep Neame’s consistent beers, which I enjoyed here last year (no plastic glass nonsense either).
The Rising Sun is a similar pub a few hundred feet away which looks equally appealing and will no doubt get a chance in the Beer Guide given current rotational trends.
This year, though, the King’s Head in the village centre is the lucky Beer Guide newbie. t’s a good representative for the area, being a slightly rawer version of its neighbours.
Another textbook pub in many respects, with the feel of a Ramsgate local but slightly more mature regulars. The public has the great historical photos I love, the pumpclips I don’t, and plenty of individual tables for drinkers. The dining room was well integrated with the lounge area too, and a simple bar menu had burger and chips at Wetherspoon prices.
The beer from Wantsum (NBSS 3) improved over time tasting a bit like the brown and malty Teignworthy I had in South Zeal. I can’t say it was as good as Deal’s best beer, but pubs aren’t all about the beer.
As the Bass clock ticked towards 6.30 I sensed an already cheerful atmosphere would peak in about an hour. I would have stayed for more but trains from Walmer aren’t as regular as the Thanet Loop bus, which is one of the world’s great inventions.