342. Sandwich to Dover


It was the last days of July when I was last in Kent, while in the intervening time the pressing business of completing the Scottish section of my walk had kept me busy.

With rising Covid cases across the country I am convinced it is only a matter of time before I am forced into lock-down either locally or prohibited to travel to the Kent and Sussex areas. Besides the worries about the pandemic, I have also had one eye on the Brexit trade deal situation, with plans being drawn up to counter the predicted queues around the ferry ports of Dover and Folkestone. It’s an area that I want to get as far away from as possible before the inevitable turmoil starts in January.

There was good news in that I only had to travel 247 miles down to Dover and with each completed section I will move closer to home. Another good sign is that I am now travelling south along the M40 and M25 having finished with the Dartford Crossing.

The drive down from Shropshire was uneventful and by 6:45 I was parking up at the observation car park on Western Heights above Dover. The view from the car park was amazing, with the dawn light just appearing I could pick out Calais and Dunkirk across the Channel. To get to the start of today’s walk at Sandwich, I needed to descend into Dover and make my way to Dover Priory railway station.

Most of today’s walk would be mostly on the level, although towards the end there would be a few up and downs. After leaving Sandwich railway station I walked through residential streets  towards Sandwich Haven River and the River Stour. I could have made things very easy when I joined the England Coast Path by simply walking across the golf course to the sea which would have saved about 3 miles. Instead I followed the river northwards along a levee or sea bank. I did eventually turn around and start walking south when I joined the sea and began walking alongside 3 golf courses, the most famous of which was Royal St. Georges, which occasionally hosts The Open.

Early morning at Western Heights above Dover Harbour looking across the Channel to the lights of Calais and Dunkirk
The River Stour near Sandwich
Heading north along the River Stour near Sandwich
Looking across Pegwell Bay to Ramsgate
Heading south along the shoreline
Building up sea defences near Deal

I eventually made my way into the seaside town of Deal. I decided to walk through the town itself, which was really very busy, as I struggled to socially distance myself at times, picking my way through the Saturday afternoon shoppers. I passed Deal Castle which I did not think much of, until I read the castle was actually built under the orders of Henry VIII as an artillery castle, a similar fortification to the ubiquitous Martello Towers, often seen in this part of England. By the time I reached the adjacent town of Walmer, the crowds had thinned out and the White Cliffs of Dover made an appearance.

The weather so far had been very nice with a warm breeze and excellent visibility, particularly across the Channel to France, where I could see a constant stream of ferries going back and forth. After passing through St. Margaret’s at Cliffe I arrived at the South Foreland lighthouse and the arrival of more crowds of people walking out from Dover itself.
I tried to stay on a level contour over the down land terrain and after passing around Langdon Hole I emerged high above the Dover Ferry Terminal. The terminal was very noisy and extremely busy with hundreds of articulated making their way to and from the ferries. On top of the white cliffs there was a number of footpaths available, unfortunately I chose a wide path that was well trodden and dropped down towards the terminal entrance, after losing a great deal of height I was faced with a sign saying this was a dead end. Grrrr! I climbed back up the cliffs and found the correct path and dropped down to the A20 road beside the ferry terminal. I continued along the shoreline of the Outer Harbour and passed a number of statues and memorials, dedicated to the role of certain armed services during the Second World War. There was also a memorial to  Captain Matthew Web, who hailed from Dawley (now in Telford) where I was born and still live. In fact there is a pub 400m from my home called the Captain Webb.

In Dover I passed by an M&S Food Hall where I hoped to buy some food, however, there was a long queue outside so I did not bother, instead settling for a pasty and coffee from a local Greggs. I continued through Dover town centre and climbed uphill to the Drop Redoubt along the North Military Road.

This whole area of the Kent coastline is steeped in history and you would need a few days to explore it fully. All that remained for me to do was drive the 4 miles to my Premier Inn bed for the night.

A very busy Deal High Street
Deal Castle
The appearance of the White Cliffs near Kingsdown
Looking back towards Deal
Looking back northwards near St. Margarets at Cliffe
The War Memorial at Bockell Hill
Looking down to St Margarets Bay at St. Margarets at Cliffe
Zoomed shot across the Channel to France with fields and the beach visible
A ferry departiing Dover bound for France
The harbour and ferry terminal at Dover
Looking down on the Dover ferry terminal
Approaching the end of the “dead end” path!
Dropping down into Dover
Passing under one of the main approach roads to the ferry terminal
The White Cliffs of Dover
Memorial to Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the Channel
Another zoomed shot across the Channel with white cliffs now visible

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 6,354 miles




4 thoughts on “342. Sandwich to Dover”

  1. Did you go down to the beach at St Margaret’s Bay? There is a house down there that Ian Flemming used as a retreat to write some of the James Bond books. It’s a beautiful and secluded little beach. In fact it was so secluded that when I last went there a few months back I could only pick up a mobile signal from France rather than Britain (which confused me when it caused it to set the clock on my phone 1 hour ahead!).


      1. Hi Jon
        Did you mention how long Sandwich to Dover took you to walk? I am walking Whitstable to Hastings next week and staying at places enroute .


      2. Hi Lizzie, I’m not sure how long Jon took back in 2017, but last week It took me me approx 6.5 hours. I generally do about 3 mph. By the time you get around to Sandwich the clocks may have gone back, but I doubt you will have problems with daylight hours. The distance can be shortened at Sandwich by simply walking across the golf course the saxon shore way to the sea, this would save you 3 miles. Its easy walking to Kingsdown then you need to start climbing up and down. Good Luck Alan


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