A Winter Wander along the White Cliffs of Dover
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The route starts in the perky seaside town of Deal with its long gently sloping shingle beach, long promenade, Timeball tower, and fishermen's boats. You may wish to catch an earlier train if you’d like to explore the town centre prior to the walk as we will merely be passing through.
Following the combined Saxon Shore Way and White Cliffs Country trail we will pass both Deal and Walmer castles before climbing uphill for the beginning of the cliff top paths. This will lead us on to the imposing Dover Patrol War Memorial; an identical obelisk stands across the channel near Calais.
Taking a short, steep detour down to sea level we will stop for lunch at St Margaret’s Bay. With the steep chalk cliff behind us your mobile phone signal may briefly switch to a French provider.
Author Ian Fleming’s former home was located near here and the nearby Goodwin Sands are reputed to be the inspiration for the beach scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, penned by Fleming. Further uphill the South Foreland lighthouse warned ships of the perilous aforementioned sandbank. Now owned by the National Trust, the lighthouse was the first to be powered by electric lamps.
With views of the sea and France to the south and open farmland to the north we will begin our approach to Dover with glimpses of sheer white cliffs and ships approaching the port.
Dusk will be advancing rapidly as we near Dover and the last stretch of this walk will be very close to sunset. Ambient light from the port and street lighting will guide our way back to Dover town centre and the railway station where the route ends.
What to bring
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
You will need a packed lunch, and plenty of water and snacks to see you through the day. We will stop for a picnic lunch at a suitably scenic spot; for your own comfort you may wish to bring something to sit on.