Leysdown or Shell Ness Nudist Beach is located at the far eastern end of the Isle of Sheppey on the north Kent coast. The beach is half a mile beyond the main beach at Leysdown; pretty close to the place identified on maps as ‘Shell Ness’ (Look for the heart-shaped bum on the map below!).
Right, so, a recent TripAdvisor member – and who are we to argue with such authority – angrily declared Leysdown as “easily the worst place to go in the UK”. We’re not sure about that; this member has clearly never been to Port Talbot.
We’ll admit that Leysdown seems to enjoy the highest concentration of amusement arcades in the known universe; and is ostensibly the regional capital of shoddy, greasy and under-priced cafes; but, for some, this could be a positive. If you like being naked, eating cheap fried food, and playing on those stupid two-pence machines with the moving shelves, then this is undoubtedly your utopian dream.
This nudie beach is a mixture of sand, shingle, shells and if we’re honest, in places, some really muddy mud. Oh, and if you’re on the OCD spectrum, think twice, as the beach is not super-clean either! Sadly, nor is the water; it barely meets minimum requirements due to its proximity to London (and it’s rubbish) and the rather large quantity of commercial ship action offshore.
The scenery is typical of the Thames estuary (am I selling this to you yet?); there are good views of Whitstable (is that even possible?) and of the aforementioned shipping in the Thames. At low tide, it’s a bit of a stroll through mud and stone to the rather murky sea.
Beach walkers on their way to Shell Ness do pass the nudie section, but anyone with a little local knowledge will understand that clothes are optional here. Indeed, the locals themselves have informed us that the beach was once used by as many as 750 totally stark naked folks on a good day!
But more recent reports suggest regular use by 20-30 people, with up to 100 buff-naked folks on busy weekends. That’s a decent number of bits, baps and cracks folks, and probably due to it’s closeness to large urban centres, notably London.
This is designated as an official nudist beach, but as always, please respect the fact that some people still like to wear clothes (weird, huh?!); so don’t flash your flaps at those conservative textile-wearing types, OK?!
On the map, look for the heart-shaped bum !!
The Isle of Sheppey is reached via the A249 road from the A2 or junction 5 of the M2 near Sittingbourne. Follow signposts for Sheerness. Once over the Swale channel turn right on to the B2231 to Leysdown-on-Sea.
Arriving at Leysdown, follow the road through the town and along the beach, for about one mile. The road veers away from the beach a bit then comes to a T-junction opposite the entrance to a caravan park. Follow the road round to the left here from where, what is now an unmade track, steadily deteriorates.
When you reach a gateway, you can either park or continue along the track to a parking area, which is directly behind the naturist beach.
Park at Mile End Wall where the road meets the seawall. Walk south eastwards past some lovely old wooden holiday chalets. The Shell Ness free beach starts one hundred metres from the chalets.
Sadly, there are no facilities at the beach itself, so you have to head into Leysdown for your supplies – sorry about that – and as we’ve already mentioned, don’t expect miracles.