I have recently finished walking the English coast. This blog is meant as a help/guide for someone doing the same thing.I hope to complete all the posts within the next 6 months. Go to the archive of past months and years to access all previous posts. Composite, rather amateurish photos are on the early walks as I had not acquired a digital camera. Any corrections of errors/ additional facts gratefully received. Enjoy the coast!
Friday, 12 October 2012
Walk 80 Dover to Hythe (Kent)
Walk80 Dover to Hythe (Kent)
(Second leg of
English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End
Map: L/R 179
Distance: about 12 miles or 18km
a few steep climbs
Terrain: footpaths and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Trains to Dover, buses from Hythe to
Start from near the docks in Dover- the ferries started sailing
from here in 1953. On the right are
white cliffs towering above the buildings lower down. The town was in the front
line for attacks in the Second World War and was extensively bombed.
Keep walking as near to the sea front as possible. You will
come to the old harbour which was built at the time of Henry VIII, however, the
discovery of a bronze age boat showed that the port had been used for over 3500
years. This boat is the oldest one in the world and can be seen at Dover
The walk goes along the pleasant promenade and beach. Julius
Caesar considered landing at Dover but was apparently deterred by the sight of
the natives haranguing him from the cliff tops! Adjacent to the beach is a
statue of Charles Rolls who was the first man to cross the channel and return
in a single flight. Bleriot also landed here on the first one way channel
flight in 1909. Further along the landward side of the seafront is a sculpture
of ‘The Waiting Miner’. It was originally sited at Richborough Power Station near
Ramsgate (buildings now demolished); it was relocated here in 1997 next to the former
offices of the National Union of Mineworkers. Further along is a memorial to
the 202,000 allied troops evacuated during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.
The walk out of Dover involves some steep climbs. Looking downwards
is the railway line to Folkestone and a large beach which appears to be only
accessible by a railway footbridge – very few people were using it when I went on
a hot sunny day. Further along is Shakespeare Cliff which features in King Lear
- hence the name.
A couple of miles out of Dover is Samphire Hoe. A strange
stone near the path records that Matthew Pepper was mayor of Dover in 1895 – I cannot
find out why it is here or if this is where he is buried. Beneath the cliffs
are buildings connected with the Channel Tunnel which runs underneath. This
area was formed from the workings of the tunnel and a plaque lists the eleven
people who lost their lives during its construction between 1986 and 1992. The
place gets its name from rock samphire an edible plant which is mentioned in
King Lear. The area is particularly popular with fishermen.
The walk continues past Abbots Cliff then cuts a little way
inland to Capel Le Ferne. At this point you pass an old sound mirror. This was
an early radar type device to hear enemy aircraft approaching and was used around
the time of the First World War. At Capel Le Fern it is well worth taking a
break to look around the Battle of Britain Memorial. This part of Kent was
known as Hellfire Corner during the Second World War. The centre piece of the
memorial is the sculpture of an airman overlooking the channel and there is a
memorial listing all those who fought in the Battle of Britain.
Follow the road out of Capel Le Ferne then along the cycle
route down the road towards Folkestone. The area round here was notorious for
smuggling and is known locally as Little Switzerland because of its diverse
flora and fauna. Look out for two Martello Towers built between 1805 and 1808
to help defend the country against Napoleon. The name comes from Cape Martello
in Corsica where such a tower proved difficult for the English to capture in
The view into Folkestone past Copt Point is an attractive
one and does not support Daniel Defoe who described the area as a ‘miserable
fishing town’. The walk goes past a popular beach to the east of the town
before reaching the harbour. Folkestone used to operate ferries but much of
this area has been redeveloped and is popular with tourists.
On the west cliffs of Folkestone is an area called The Leas.
A hydraulically operated lift carries passengers from the top and bottom of the
cliff; it was built in 1885 and is one of the oldest of its type still working.
A statue of Folkestone born William Harvey who discovered how the blood
circulated is on the Leas. The area was popular with fashionable Edwardian
society and features in H G Wells book Kipps (Half a sixpence). The impressive
building facing out to sea is The Grand Hotel. Edward V11, Princess Margaret
and Agatha Christie have all stayed here. Christie wrote Murder on the Orient
Express when she was a resident.
The walk passes alongside a significant coastal protection
scheme. A mile or so from Folkestone is Sandgate which has a number of houses
built close to the beach promenade. H G Wells lived near this spot in Beach
Cottage and his novel ‘The Sea Lady’ was set here. Sandgate Castle was built in
1539 by Henry V111 who feared a French invasion, it is now in private
ownership. During Napoleonic times part of it was converted into a Martello
The walk continues into Hythe along a long promenade. Hythe
was one of the Cinque Ports (a group of medieval ports in Kent and Sussex which
were allowed trading privileges in exchange for supplying the bulk of the
British navy). In 1293 the French landed here and the townspeople slew all 200
soldiers. Further inland is the small attractive town of Hythe. The terminus of
the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch 15” gauge railway and The Royal Military Canal (which
was built as a defence during the Napoleonic Wars) are two of the interesting
Snaps show: Sound mirror near Capel Le Ferne; statue of Charles Rolls at Dover; part of the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne; Dover Beach; Grand Hotel, Folkestone; Sandgate Castle; Martello Tower Folkestone; Leas hydraulic lift, Folkestone.