Dover’s famous White Cliffs are one of Britain’s most iconic natural features situated just 21 miles across the Channel from France. Dover is one of the five historic Cinque Ports on the Kent and Sussex coast and you can learn all about the town’s rich maritime history at Dover Museum, one of the oldest museums in Kent. Take a trip to Dover Castle which predates William the Conqueror and is also home to wartime tunnels dating from World War II. Dover Port is one of the UK’s busiest passenger and cruise liner ports operating up to 55 inter-channel ferry crossings a day.
Of the five historic Cinque Ports only Dover retains its importance as a working port. Dover is the closest port to mainland Europe, a mere 21 miles from France and the white cliffs of Cap Blanc Nez near Calais, which come into view on clear days. Dover is rich in historic sites – its castle is one of the most dramatic in Kent. This was Hellfire’s Corner during World War II and with its network of wartime tunnels Dover Castle played a strategic role in both World Wars of the 20th century.
Evidence of Dover’s importance within the Roman empire and further back to the Bronze Age is revealed through the numerous internationally important archaeological finds here including the Roman painted house and within the castle grounds the Roman lighthouse. One of the most important Bronze Age finds – the Bronze Age boat was discovered in the 1950s and a reconstruction of it is on show in the superb Dover Museum.
White Cliffs Coastal Path
The White Cliffs of Dover, gateway to England and important iconic image in the British psyche, are now one of the UK’s protected heritage coasts offering some of the best cliff coastal walking in the country. The cliffs stretch from Kingsdown, south along St Margaret’s Bay to Dover for 8 miles. From Dover they push on for another 8 miles to Folkestone. Known as the South Foreland stretch of coast, the white chalk cliffs of Dover are mirrored 21 miles across the English Channel by the Cap Blanc Nez white cliffs just near Calais. 10,000 years ago the two coasts were joined.
The chalky white cliffs push up to 300 feet in places and are continuously eroding. You are recommended to stay at least 5 metres away from the cliff edge at all times. Extra care is needed with children when walking the cliff top and dogs are best kept on leads. The precious chalk Downland on top of the cliffs boasts numerous plants which have adapted well to the thin chalk soils and which predate the last ice age. Free leaflets and an exhibit on the White Cliffs are at the National Trust’s Gateway to the White Cliffs Centre at Langdon Cliffs just above the port.
Getting to Dover and White Cliffs Country is made easy via this busy European port’s excellent rail, road and ferry links. Kent’s two major motorways – the M2 and M20 are within easy reach. The M2 filters in to the A2 pushing south into the town and port. Regular train services run from London stations including Waterloo, Victoria and Charing Cross. You can also pick up the High Speed Rail Link to Dover Priory from London St Pancras with a journey time of only just over one hour!
Dover is England’s great gateway in for visitors from the Continent via cross-channel ferry crossings running every 30 minutes! Eurostar’s Ashford International Station and Eurotunnel at Folkestone are within an easy drive. National Express coaches also offer a frequent service between Dover and London, and for getting around Stagecoach buses operate an extensive bus service in the area – pick up maps and guides from Dover visitor centre in Dover Museum on Market Square.
Where to stay
A wide range of holiday cottages, B&Bs and hotels sit in and around Dover and White Cliffs Country, whether you are looking for that idyllic White Cliffs cottage ideal for coast path walking and exploring the castle or simply a ferry or cruise B&B stopover. This bustling heritage port offers a mix of modern and historic accommodation. Stay in classic boutique guest house accommodation at the foot of Dover Castle or choose a modern great value hotel ideal for business or leisure.
Beautiful coastal cottages with port and sea views feature in the area along the White Cliffs coast path around Dover, particularly around charming St Margaret’s Bay. Move slightly inland and discover gentle countryside dotted with character barn conversions within easy reach of the castle, Dover Museum and the coast path.