The White Cliffs of Dover are one of England’s most impressive and renowned sights. The 10 miles of stunning coastline welcomes visitors from across the channel with a kind of stoic grace reserved for nature alone; the perfect entrance to England’s southern port.
Underneath these cliffs, Dover is a very standard port city; nothing to see here. But the vicinity offers spectacular views and walks along huge white chalk cliffs that are slowly eroding, adding an elements of danger and awe to the spectacle.
We visited from London for a long walk along the coastline from nearby town Deal, to Dover.
A return train from London Kings Cross to Dover Priory with Southeastern Trains cost £27.20 each, and the journey took about 1h 30m. These prices still apply but depend on which train you choose and time you travel. When you book, make sure to check the length of the journey, as some routes require you to change trains and can take up to 2.5 hours.
If you have a tight budget you can get bus tickets with National Express from London Victoria to Dover Town Centre for around £11 return per person, but beware that each journey will take between 2.5 – 3 hours.
From Dover Priory we immediately caught a train to Deal, as we wanted to walk the coast back to Dover to catch our return train to London. This journey costs £5.30 per person one way, and takes 18 minutes.
If you are starting in Dover, the White Cliffs visitor centre is about a 30-40 minute walk from the train station. Alternatively you could get a taxi, which might cost between £5-£10 for the journey.
Dover itself isn’t an attractive place. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just a typical port town, with all the grime and industry that comes with it’s function. It’s functional. There are only two reasons you might visit: to cross the channel to or from Calais, or to see the White Cliffs. Although it does have a pretty cool castle, it’s not really a reason to visit all on its own, unless castles are really your thing.
The most common way to experience the White Cliffs is to walk the two mile coastal path from the visitor centre to the South Foreland Lighthouse. This route will take you along the most spectacular section of the cliffs, where you can either brave the crumbling edge or stick to the safe track a few metres back. It’s a fairly easy walk and is accessible for anyone with good mobility. Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty are free, so don’t worry about entry fees unless you need to park a car. I recommend visiting the National Trust website, which has all the info you could ever need about visiting.
We chose a slightly more adventurous route; it was Easter weekend and we felt a longing to stretch our legs after a long England winter. It’s a moderate 10 mile (17.2km) walk from Deal to Dover; we set a good pace but the walk still took us five hours with regular breaks, resulting in a ten hour day when you account for trains to and from London. It’s a lovely walk along the sea, past Deal Castle, across fields and through villages, and something I would strongly recommend if you are so inclined.
Dover Castle is an immense 12th century fortress looking out over the town. Entrance is £18.30 per person and although we didn’t visit it seems a great experience.
Hint – There’s food available along the walk from Deal to Dover, but I would advise taking some snacks and water to get you through the day.
White Cliffs of Dover day trip from London;
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