The Isle of Sheppey gets a lot of shit, the locals are accused of being inbred, and cruelly called Swampies! But I don’t care, I love the place. I love so much that I got my mate to drive me around it one August day, so I could take some pictures, eat some street food, and do a little guide to the Isle of Sheppey, so here it is!
What’s the story with Sheppey?
The Isle of Sheppey is an island of 36 square miles that lies 68km from London. In its heyday, it was an economical, military, and tourism hub, but like most seaside towns those days have passed somewhat. Regardless, I love the place!
How do you get to the Isle of Sheppey?
There are two train stations in the Isle of Sheppey, Queensborough, and Sheerness-on-Sea. Swale train station (see photo) is apparently the least used train station in the UK. We stopped there. It is pretty grim! Alternatively, you can either drive over the “new” bridge, which is just for cars, and was launched in 2006, or go via the old bridge from Sittingbourne to Sheppey that is one of those funny bridges that can lift for ships.
We took the old road!
Where should you visit on the Isle of Sheppey?
I’ll be going into much more detail about each and every place to see in Sheppey, but here’s my quick guide!
Rushenden – Sheppey
Apparently, the only way to get here involves a hike, and apparently, Rushenden has a pier. We didn’t make it, so there are no photos.
Queensborough, Isle of Sheppey
This was one of the few towns in Sheppey I had not been to, but I have to say it was rather pleasant. There was a little port type thing, a promenade, 5 active pubs, and what is apparently the best Micropub in Kent “Trafalgar Court”. Alas, it was closed, but we got cheesecake next door. The huge Flying Dutchman gastropub is also here and is famous for its decent food.
Bluetown, Isle of Sheppey
Bluetown is another one that might warrant its blog, but Bluetown used to be a big deal in the old days. Now, it is a single road, but it has two “alive” pubs, and a theatre/musical hall/museum, that for two quid was worth a look.
Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey
If the Isle of Sheppey was ever to declare independence (I’m up for it) then Sheerness would be the capital city. There’s a beach, a promenade, and a high street. Sheerness High Street seems to be bucking the trend of most UK highstreets and still has an old-world charm to it. Hell, you can even get Pie and Mash in a Millwall themed restaurant!
From Sheppey to Minster-on-Sea
The drive along the coast from Sheerness to Minster has you driving along over Marine parade. A really nice drive, and one which randomly in the middle has a very small arcade opposite what looked like a microbrewery. Nice beach, and even had a retro payphone.
Minster-on-Sea, Isle of Sheppey
A truly beautiful place, with some of the best coastline I have seen anywhere in the UK (and that includes the Isle of Weight). Pubs, shops, and great views.
Minster (not on Sea)
We drove through this “town”, and the high street was so small I think I captured it on my GoPro, but I can’t be sure.
Eastchurch is more to the center of the Isle of Sheppey, has a few pubs and looks pleasant enough to live, but with no majorly striking features.
As you drive onto Leysdown-On-Sea you pass through a place called Bayview. It is less a place, but more a pub called Bayview that had houses around it. The pub did look nice to be fair.
The reason to go to the Isle of Sheppey is to go to Leysdown, or the Ibiza of England, which no one calls it. Here you play on arcades, eat fish and chips, and go to old school British seaside. There used to be a pub called the “talk of the Town” which is about to go on auction for about $400,000. I’d buy it if I had that much money, I do not. The best fish and chip shop of Leysdown (Ron Woods Fish and Chips) is here. The surviving pub the Rose and Crown is not only still buzzing, but still has an old-style shell-fish car outside selling his wares. Classic British seaside street food. I got me some cockles rinsed in vinegar.
On from Leysdown!
Past the high street/promenade of Leysdown is lots of holiday villages, and homes before you hit a great stretch of beach with classic “beach huts”. In the UK, these tiny beach huts can sell for up to $500,000. You cannot live in them, and they are simple to store stuff, and well as a base for beaching. A very British affair indeed!
Warden, Isle of Sheppey
Warden is a funny little place! It consists of a few holiday villages, one of which Sheppey Holiday Village has holiday homes available for as little as $6000, but holy shit has some of them seen better days! There’s also a fun pub (anything that calls itself a fun pub is trying too hard), but a great view of the coast.
Warden actually offers the best view of the Maunsell Forts, the forts built to protect the Kent coast during the Second World War that has survived being blown up, or turned into countries (link to Sealand).
My last little Easter Egg on this one is that we stopped at Herm Park, home of the mighty Sheppey United Football Club. You can read more about their history here, but in their heyday, they beat Arsenal 6-0. The glory days are over, let me tell you!
So that is the Street Food Guy’s compact as it can be guided to what to see if you have a day on the Isle of Sheppey. I’ll have a few more blogs about the place to come, but let me know your thoughts!