Seashells & Shingle at Whitstable

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The shingle shore at Whitstable in Kent is protected by massive wooden groynes or breakwaters. At the time of my visit, the tide was high and the flint and other mostly worm-holed pebbles were steeply banked. The flat top of the beach was stabilised by vegetation with pink and white valerian and yellow ragwort the most colourful flowers. Pale bands of white empty oyster shells (mostly the rock oyster Crassostrea gigas) were high, dry, and dull on the shingle between the groynes; while lower down splashed by waves or heaped up against the wooden sea defence structures was a great variety of other empty shells including winkles, cockles, mussels, limpets, slipper limpets, whelks, netted whelks, Manila clams, and sting winkles. These were jumbled up with wet and dry seaweed, horn wrack, small pieces of driftwood, and flotsam. There was a marked contrast in the appearance of the shells and stones between the water’s edge where the wet shells were brighter and more colourful and the upper shore where everything was dry.

4 Replies to “Seashells & Shingle at Whitstable”

  1. The colours were particularly vivid and rich in the wet areas and there were appealing combinations with the rusty colours of the stones combined with the blues and greys of the winkles and mussels. I can imagine a coarsely woven carpet mimicking the wet shingle and shells.


  2. I’ve walked along here many times, always entranced by the colours on the shore, but there is also an appealing bleakness about the north Kent coast.


  3. It certainly seemed bleak when I visited but I guess that it would have looked very different on a sunny day. Personally, I like the seashore whatever the weather or the outlook. As I travelled to Whitstable by train from London, passing along the north Kent coast tracts of flat open land, I was very much reminded of some of Dickens’ work in which he describes the bleak marshes of the area. Full of interest and atmosphere.


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