Total Pageviews

Friday, 12 October 2012

Walk 80 Dover to Hythe (Kent)

Walk   80 Dover to Hythe (Kent)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End

Map: L/R 179
Distance: about 12 miles or 18km
Difficulty:  Moderate, a few steep climbs
Terrain: footpaths and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Trains to Dover, buses from Hythe to Folkestone

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 Museum.

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 1794.

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 Tower.

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 features.
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.


No comments:

Post a Comment