Day 381 The White Cliffs of Dover

Saturday 20 August 2016

Folkestone to Deal

19 miles

Chandos Premier Guest House, Folkestone

It was incredibly windy during the night, rattling the windows. I was glad I hadn’t camped. I feasted on biscuits and left early. 

looking down on Folkestone Harbour
I followed in the footsteps of thousands of soldiers and walked down the Road of Remembrance, the railings decorated with knitted poppies. 

a poignant memorial
The tide was out at Folkestone Harbour and Sunny Sands Beach looked pristine as I gazed across it at the Coronation Parade at the base of the tall cliffs. 

Folkestone Harbour at low tide, an enormous hotel in the background
The Folkestone Mermaid looking out to sea from Sunny Sands Beach (sculpted in 2011 to rival Copenhagen’s Mermaid and inspired by HG Wells’ novel ‘The Sea Lady’, as he was a resident of Folkestone)
The Parade was undergoing refurbishment and so was inaccessible. I had to back track and climb up lots of steps to reach the top of the cliff. The views back across Folkestone were excellent, and really showed how it commands a low-lying promontary protruding from the base of the North Downs. 

the huge cliffs leading away from Folkestone and towering over East Wear Bay
looking back down on Folkestone, the edge of East Wear and Warren Country Park and Martello Tower number 3, an old lookout station
Boy was it windy! The forecast had predicted 50mph winds and I was glad they were onshore because I was struggling to stand upright at times. Aside from the battle with the wind, it was a nice sunny day and a beautiful cliff walk, following the North Downs Way, to Dover. 

the shear cliffs of The Warren
the view along The Warren cliff top, looking down on the seaside train line between Dover and Folkestone
The path took me straight past the Battle of Britain Memorial, sat high on the cliff top facing the English Channel. It was rather impressive and I stopped to wander around it. 

The impressive Battle of Britain Memorial
A bit further on I cut off the cliff top for a break from the relentless wind (I didn’t get one but it was easier to fight the wind when not on the cliff top). I spied the Varne Ridge Channel Swimming Holiday Park so went to take a look. The reception buildings were covered in plaques naming all the channel swimmers who have stayed at the park and their various records. It was quite an uplifting sight. 

the entrance to the Varne Ridge Channel Swimming Holiday Park; so many plaques (this is just a few)
The approach to Dover is via the Shakespeare Cliff, a huge chalk ridge. Peering over the edge I had a great view of Samphire Hoe. 

peering down on Samphire Hoe
looking at Shakespeare Cliff and the A20 heading into Dover
walking the precarious top edge of Shakespeare Cliff
I could see down onto Dover docks, in front of me was the Western Heights, and beyond that another hill with Dover Castle on top. I never knew just how hilly Dover is. 

approaching Dover
Dover marinas, the Eastern docks and the castle on the hill
a closer view of Dover Castle
It seemed like I went up and down and round and round the Western Heights in order to skirt around one of the largest and strongest forts in the country, the Drop Redoubt Fort. It was rather similar to the fort on Portland, built into the hillside. 

Dover’s Drop Redoubt Fort on the Western Heights
I stopped at a cafe in Dover town as I needed a break. Once I’d re-gathered my strength I could take on the White Cliffs around South Foreland. 

heading over the White Cliffs of Dover to South Foreland
looking back along the beautiful white cliffs to Dover
The National Trust owns a section of the White Cliffs so naturally there is a visitor centre and there were lots of people about. I could just about make out The coast of France through the haze. 

Dover’s docks and breakwater
All along the cliffs here there is plenty of military history: not only the castles, forts and Martello Towers, but also St Martin’s Gun Battery and Fan Bay Deep Shelter. The views from the gun battery were extensive. It was originally built in 1779, during the American War of Independence, and was added-to in the Napoleonic era and again in WW2. 

relics of a military history embedded in the white cliffs
Unfortunately I needed to have booked and paid to go in the deep shelter and have a tour of the interconnecting tunnels built to house the soldiers operating the gun battery. 

South Foreland lighthouse
St Margaret’s at Cliffe seemed a rather smart settlement, nothing like its nickname of Hellfire Corner. It has created its own ‘Frontline Britain’ trail around the various historical military points. This small town was once the frontline of our defence, being officially the closest point to France and endowed with several gun batteries to shell enemy shipping. 

the Dover Patrol Memorial at St Margaret’s at Cliffe
The White Cliffs carried on to just before Kingsdown. Then they gave way to a long shingle shoreline protected by King Henry VIII’s Castles in the Downs. I walked past ones at Walmer, Deal and Sandown. 

kingsdown and Deal, at the end of the chalk cliffs
Deal Castle artillery fort
I arrived in Deal with almost an hour to wait for the next train back to Folkestone. 

Deal’s Timeball Tower, a Victorian maritime GMT signal
I noticed a few craft beer places so I thought I’d check one out. I sat in the Taphouse Beer Cafe and sampled a few of the craft beers on offer (along with a pint of water). Not a bad way to end a very windy walk. 

the Channel Swimmer sculpture at Dover

5 thoughts on “Day 381 The White Cliffs of Dover

  1. Chris F October 6, 2016 / 5:01 am

    Yes………..hard bit done not many hills left now Miss N. On on The Clash song is playing ever louder!!!!!!!

    Like

  2. Ruth Livingstone October 10, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    Wow Lucy, you’ve nearly finished! Pleased to meet you. I’m another coastal walker, but a much slower one than you 😀

    Like

  3. jstumm October 10, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    I wonder if my friend Anders Frappel was on the wall of channel swimmers. I helped him train for the swim, and was amazed at his determination! Bit like you really…

    Like

  4. JohnnyL October 19, 2016 / 7:49 am

    What happened next, Lucy?!?!

    Like

  5. Donna Munday November 20, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    Just caught up on ab out two months’ worth Luc, but need to read the rest! Don’t leave us in suspense. 🙂
    Great posting and pics.

    Like

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