You can’t possibly go to Dover without visiting the world-famous White Cliffs of Dover. A truly iconic British landmark, the cliffs are 300 feet tall and dominate a five-mile stretch of the coastline in Kent – they are a true sight to behold.
White Cliffs of Dover
With a heritage as rich as the rest of the area, the cliffs are steeped in British history. They were referred to in Shakespeare’s King Lear, formed the location of King Charles ll’s return as king after years of exile, were home to Langdon Convict Prison and – most famously – played a part in both world wars. In fact, during World War ll the White Cliffs of Dover were Britain’s frontline from 1941 where guns could be seen lining the coast.
The striking white appearance comes from the material the cliffs are made of – chalk. Formed from the remains of algae, they have taken millions of years to form and only remain so startlingly bright because they erode naturally – if they were covered by man-made structures they would soon return to their green form. There is also some great wildlife to see on the rare chalk landscape of the clifftops including wildflowers, birds and butterflies.
The cliffs can be seen from many locations around Dover, including Dover Castle and the Port of Dover. The best way to admire the magnificence of the cliffs, however, is to take a walk along the coastal path towards the South Foreland Lighthouse. There is also a visitor centre located near the Port of Dover where you can pick up a free walking guide map and ask for any advice you need during your walk.
About a mile and a half from the visitor centre, along the coastal path, you’ll come across Fan Bay Deep Shelter, a fascinating time capsule hidden beneath the cliffs that delves deeper into their relationship with warfare. Tickets for this are sold at the entrance to the tunnel and tours leave every 30 minutes. Times vary and there are some access restrictions that may not suit those with disabilities, so it’s worth checking the website before you visit.
If all the walking has built up your appetite, there is a lovely coffee shop in the visitor centre where you can relax with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. There is also parking on-site, which is chargeable, and a nice little gift shop selling mementos that you can take home for family and friends.