I’m not claiming it’s sunnier than Manchester, but everytime I got to Folkestone I get unseasonably warm weather. Two years ago I had this view from the The Leas, but on Tuesday Bello Gelato had decided to be shut on the hottest day of the year so far.
That was a shame, as this is the best ice cream I’ve had outside of Joe’s in Swansea. And Folkestone needs all the advantages it can get, now that neighbouring Margate (micro pubs & modern art), Hastings (live music & Dickensian charm) and Ramsgate (free campervan parking & weirdness) have upped their game.
In contrast Folkestone looks a bit modern and workaday, though the setting at the foot of the North Downs is as good as any in Kent, and the views from East Cliff superb.
I’d never really explored the harbour below those cliffs before. It’s not Hastings or Ramsgate, but the seafood stalls and bargain lagers gave it a jolly air that I warmed to.
Most of the Beer Guide action is in Cheriton Place to the west of town, but East Cliff has its own eponymous gem.
From the Harbour you can see the giant girth of the Burstin Hotel*, a place I assume was built for coach parties from Wolverhampton, though I believe it was a couple from Kettering that I once read had stayed there every year for 40 years.
The view from the Burstin is mainly of diggers and fences at the moment. Equally sadly, the cliff lift is out-of-action, but you can lose 86 calories, and 3 days of your life, running up the steps.
Never mind, there’s a “Creative Quarter“. It seems to be based on Tontine Street, judging by this;
Tontine Street is home to some rather impressive pub tiling as well;
Moving into the Old Town, The Bayle is a beautiful haven of churchyard and weird pub windows. If it was in Hastings, it would have been heaving.
In sharp contrast to the modernised shopping streets , the steep Old High Street looked better than I remember, but still very much a work-in-progress.
A smell of incense wafted down to compete with the aromas of Chummy Chipie (sic); a score-draw I’d say. Clearly a proper town needs craft beer and vinyl rather than incense and tattooists, and Folkestone may be getting there.
Kipps is the new Guide entry, and is more café bar than micro bar. Despite being the only customer (OK, it was 12.01), their house Pale was superb (NBSS 3.5), though only GBG-ticking rules kept me off the Tiny Rebel keg. Cheery staff, cosy seating, good bar snacks.
All this place, and Folkestone in general, need is custom. A fair number of the interesting small restaurants were closed. As with Ramsgate, success often breeds success; round the corner Googies were offering 4 Brew Dog beers on tap, and even Ramsgate can’t match that yet (though Margate can).
*You can visit Boulogne on a day trip from the Burstin Hotel for a tenner, but how many Beer Guide pubs does Boulogne have, heh ?