At Dover Cliffs
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat,
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood;
And whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o’er the distant billows the still eve
Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave
― William Lisle Bowles¹
Take a walk at the White Cliffs of Dover (Map from the National Trust)
Note: My Flickr album is organized sequentially.
Dover as a tourist destination is a little like the Poconos circa 1980 something. It’s heyday has long past and there are placards everywhere promising redevelopment. It doesn’t have the shopping of Brighton or the history and dining of Bristol. It’s a port city you pass through. Who knows though what places like Dover (and the Poconos) will like be post-pandemic as the cost/inconvenience of international travel changes domestic tourism.
As a gateway to the Cliffs of Dover the city is fine (even IF the relationship seemed badly neglected). My first afternoon was spent ambling around the town centre (getting my bearings) and probing the approach to the infamous cliffs. I’m not a typical traveler and don’t depend on guide books or countless hours of research on the internet. My trips are usually centered around an event (e.g. football match) or a place and the rest is just freeform exploration and discovery. The absence of an agenda makes it very easy to whittle the hours away at a coffee shop.
The eastern approach to the cliffs via the Athol Terrace/Coast Path was kind-of-maybe-sort-of-closed because of falling rocks (chalk in this case) so I found an alternative route via Castle Hill Road. The site of Dover Castle from any vista is impressive but dominates the horizon as you make the climb up Castle Hill Road. My adventure for the day unfortunately ended at Upper Road due to overambition². On my way back to the hotel I took a picture of St. Martin’s Guesthouse because of its promise of ‘tea and coffee making facilities’ (plus it’s the surname of the pastor at my church).
Miracle of the Feet
It was a fast start on Sunday morning after my feet (and legs) had a couple of hours to rest. My approach to the park (national trust) was via Upper Road. There’s a church on the route that was damaged in WWII and is now preserved as a Grade II listed building. I stopped for a photograph on the top of Connaught Road and a sign post for Burgoyne Fort (for Bear). There was NO sidewalk/trail/path on Upper Road but it was SO early that cars only passed sporadically.
I finally made it to the visitor centre and my first vista of the White Cliffs of Dover! I had NO idea HOW big the park was so my decision to “call it quits” the day before was just lucky. On Saturday night, whilst subjecting my feet to a recovery regimen that was some Mr. Miyagi style stuff, studied a map of the park. The walk to the lighthouse is about 50 minutes, BUT I stopped to explore every nook and cranny SO it was well north of that number. My return trip included a descent into Fan Bay (feets of strength™) before climbing down to sea level to explore the ribs of a wreck on Langdon Beach.
I left the park via the aforementioned eastern approach (the one with the signs about falling chalk). This route gives you a nice birds eye view of the port and takes you under the A2. I’m not a very good writer because this post omits the absolute majesty of this amazing space but if you’ve ever wanted to live in a Turner painting visit the White Cliffs of Dover. I think English skies are so beautiful because all that chalk acts like a filter when it’s picked up by the breeze.
IMPORTANT: There are few times when my feet and legs have been so tired/sore so IF you plan on traversing from sea level to lighthouse to bays and holes (the latter is inappropriate) wear something more durable than Vans (and bring sunscreen).
¹Sonnet: At Dover Cliffs, July 20th 1787 by William Lisle Bowles (poetry.com)
²Overamition in my case is a combination of NO food, a very early start, and poor footwear
At Dover Cliffs