Dover Priory station, a cloudy but mild morning. 11 London Group members who had caught various trains from London gradually assembled for the day's walk along England's most famous coastline. A new member, Ricardo, was welcomed to the group. We were also met by David White of the East Kent Group. David lives in Deal and has a wealth of knowledge of the area and its history.
We set off at 11 am, initially following an intricate route through the town and along the beach front. We noted the regeneration efforts which are enhancing the town's many Georgian and other historic buildings. Dover has always been a major part but never a seaside resort. Despite this we passed a surprising number of tourists, including quite a few from India, as we climbed to the clifftop via a sloping terraced path. This was hot work as the weather got warmer and sunlight reflected on the chalk walls. Our reward was great views of Dover castle and the impressive scale and bustle of Dover Harbour sprawling beneath us. Although so familiar, the White Cliffs are always impressive, reaching 350 feet in height. This part of the walk is not for those with vertigo, the path passing only a few feet from a sheer drop to the sea.
The walk became notably quieter and passed over a chalk grassland landscape. Our view was drawn for once away from the sea and over the pastoral patchwork of fields inland. We passed South Foreland lighthouse which was built to protect shipping from the notorious Goodwin Sands, before descending to St Margaret's Bay for lunch. Most of the group ate their sandwiches on the pebble beach, with breakaway factions variously ordering pints of beer, mugs of tea or ice creams! 3 of the group swam in the sea, which was very easy as the water deepened quickly.
St Margaret's Bay marks the boundary of the English Channel and North Sea and our walk from here on took on a northerly direction. Immediately after lunch we had to climb steeply to regain the cliff top. We passed the impressive The Dover Patrol Monument, constructed in 1921 to an Egyptian 'needle' design.
After descending from the cliffs for the last time we arrived in Walmer, and to save time we avoided the temptations of the pub or another swim (it was now very warm). The 2-mile level stretch of our walk ran parallel to the beach all the way into Deal. As we entered the town, David pointed out the Deal Timeball which enabled ships moored offshore to synchronise their chronometers. The Timeball used to fall every day at 1 pm, as did the similar time ball at Greenwich, both triggered by an electric signal from the Royal Observatory.
After walking through some of the side streets of this very attractive Kentish town, David kindly invited us to his house for tea and cake. 5 of our party then made their way to Deal station while the remaining 7 of us returned to relax on the beach. A few of us had a final sea dip while others relaxed and chatted before we said goodbye to David to catch our train back to London.
I would like to thank my fellow walkers for their good company and especially to David for giving us the benefit of his knowledge and hospitality.
GOC London Co-ordinator
After the hot work of the climb onto the cliffs, the full extent of Dover Harbour revealed itself - it reall y is a very large. busy and impressive spectacle.
The White Clifgs are also impressive. No-one seemed to suffer from vertigo, depsite the sheer 500 feet drop next to the path at some points.
on a surprisingly bright February day for a 12 mile circular walk along the white cliffs between Folkestone and Dover. Within a few minutes we made the surprisingly steep ascent to the Western Heights which woke us all up and resulted in us pausing at the top to regain our breath and admire one of the best views of Dover and its imposing castle.
Eighteen East Kent members gathered at the rather undistinguished Dover station on a surprisingly bright February day for a 12 mile circular walk along the white cliffs between Folkestone and Dover. Within a few minutes we made the surprisingly steep ascent to the Western Heights which woke us all up and resulted in us pausing at the top to regain our breath and admire one of the best views of Dover and its imposing castle. An 80 minute train journey to the East Kent coast, plus the threat of some rain, didn’t deter 36+ GOCs and several dogs, from joining GOC Chairman, David White’s 10 mile walk along the iconic White Cliffs coastline from Dover to Deal. The rain, fortunately, ended up being a few drops in the late morning and the rest of the day was scattered cloud and a gentle and welcoming breeze, in all, a delightful Summer’s day. I say 36+, as people kept appearing at various places along the way, some disappearing as quickly as they appeared – strange place this Kent! David shared titbits of local information as we passed, about the 3 grand looking castles, Dover, Walmer and Deal, the benefits and pitfalls of the mighty Goodwin sands, littered with the skeletons of shipwrecks a few miles out to sea, and finally, in Deal, with its cute little ancient lanes with equally cutesy tiny houses, to find that many were heaving local brothels in days of old, servicing the many sailors who passed through the local port! Possibly appropriate they now house a collection of gays!! Lunch was a welcome stop, in a stunning location close to the cliff edge overlooking St Margaret below, with many of us attempting a few post prandial zzzzz’s as we succumbed to our restored sugar levels. Shock hit when we found our mobile connections coming via France, making us realise how close we were to that country and that the next time there was war between us and them that modern technology would fail us first! We were a great bunch. It always impresses me the range and depth of knowledge we have amongst our troops, conversations were constantly interesting and stimulating, but could equally descend into fun and trivia! Our final destination was David’s own home (MMMM, how many sailors had a merry time here, some of us did wonder???!!) where we were treated to cakes and tea, with the admission that the very delicious fruit cake, the stunningly rich and scrummy lemon drizzle sponge and the ridiculously yummy Kentish Hop-Picker’s cake, were, in fact, the first cakes David had ever made! What? Call himself a gay man and waited this long to cream his sugar and butter!!! Then it was the obligatory fish and chips (well, we were on the coast!) on the Deal Pier, before, totally exhausted, collapsing into a comfy seat on the train journey back to the big smoke!
A great day, and we are looking forward for an excuse for Mr White to bake again! Thank you David!