23rd July 2017


Our July Walk along the Folkestone-Dover Heritage Coast

Our walk this Sunday from Folkestone to Dover was ably led by Adrian; it's one of his favourite walks. We stopped for a short while in Folkestone amid the throng of day-trippers. We then rose to higher ground above "The Warren", taking in the Battle of Britain Memorial, and enjoying the good southward views across the English Channel as far as France. These views accompanied us for most of our walk. The Cliff Top Café made an excellent lunch stop.

We are enjoying life and the Great Outdoors, and we pose for a "piccy" before we reach Dover.

In the afternoon, we took the cliff tops of Abbot's Cliff and Shakespeare Cliff in our stride, seeing Folkestone Harbour gradually receding into the distance as Dover Harbour appeared ahead of us. The Western Heights of Dover are full of military and historical interest and gave us further good views, this time over Dover, its famous Castle (the largest in England) and the Harbour. These Western Heights of Dover were a fitting finale to our fine Sunday walk.

So here is what these pages have in store for you. Even if you were not able to join us, here's your chance to find out how we enjoyed our exhilarating late-July Sunday IVC walk. The cryptic names on some of the tabs above, have their mysteries revealed here!

Enjoy your browse!

We Arrive

Folkestone, the start of our walk this Sunday, was quite easy to get to. Some of us took the high speed line from Saint Pancras and Stratford. The "slower" line from Victoria and other London termini south of the Thames, was a further option.

Those of us reaching Folkestone by the High Speed Train from St Pancras and Stratford had a chance to see the famous Thames landmark - the QE Bridge, a vital part of the Dartford crossing.

Two minutes by train away from the start of our walk at Folkestone Central Station, is Folkestone West Station, which still has some of its Victorian charm.


Folkestone was bustling with day-trippers, but before we escaped the happy crowds, we stopped off for coffee at the Czech-themed "Prava" Café. For those with a bit more time, Folkestone has some interesting sights, including the Old Town Hall, now nicely converted into "The Folkestone Museum", the "Leas (Cliff) Lift" which is being restored, the early Mediaeval Church of St Mary and St Eanswythem and, of course, the Martello Towers.

The centre of Folkestone boasts some interesting old buildings ...

... like the old Town Hall, which reopened in 2017 as the "Museum of Folkestone".

Just by the arches of the old railway line to the port is the weather boarded "Old George" which probably has many an interesting story to tell.

We leave the hustle and bustle of Folkestone with its day-trippers and climbing the steps to reach higher ground, with views back to Folkestone ...

... and ahead to the "cliff-scape" which would accompany us for most of the day.

Ascending still further, ...

... we reach one of the Martello Towers, built in 1806 as a defence against Napoleon.

Here we look ahead to the "Warren".

The Warren

Our "down-and-up" path took us, via steep - but eminently doable - ascent, to the cliffs above the "Warren". Apart from the good sea views which accompanied us for most of our Sunday walk today, we had the opportunity to take in the "Battle of Britain" Memorial. The "Cliff Top Café" was a nice place for a ¾ hour lunch break.

As we look back to Folkestone,
we can just about make out Dungeness Power Station in the distance.

We then come to the Battle of Britain Memorial. The figure of a seated pilot reminds us of the aircrew who risked their lives in the Battle.

We also see replicas of a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire - the small but capable aircraft which played their vital role in the Battle of Britain.

Onwards we go, enjoying distant views to the south of the French coast. It was difficult to capture the views of France on my camera, but the French coast was definitely there - honest!

We stayed a while at the Cliff Top Café, where Margaret joined us. The café afforded excellent sea views, including this one back to Folkestone.
No alcohol but a good "Chicken and Veg" soup, and nice Earl Grey and coffee.
The fare and the excellent 5/5 hygiene rating made for a very good "pit stop" indeed.

On leaving the café we enjoy further fine sea views across to France,
which is about 26 miles away as the crow flies.

Abbot's Cliff

On this cliff top stretch, we say good bye to Folkestone Harbour and have our first glimpse of Dover Harbour. We are above the main railway line, as a ventilation shaft - a relic of Victorian engineering - tells us.

Above Abbot's Cliff we still see part of Folkestone Harbour.

This looks like a "Super Fish" diving out of the English Channel and embedding itself in the "downs above". The "fish" tells us about the National Cycle Network and - I think - the "North Downs Way", parts of both of which meet here. Yes, "North Downs", not "South Downs"!

Folkestone Harbour just will not go away!

This looks like a ventilation shaft leading to the railway tunnel below.
Steam traction gave the Victorians some "head scratching". Think, for example, of the elaborate schemes to remove the steam from London's "Inner Circle" in Victorian times.

As we proceed along the cliff top, Dover harbour comes into view.

Shakespeare Cliff

Shakespeare Cliff separates us from Dover. Beneath the cliff is a railway tunnel which the Victorians regarded as a feat of engineering and which was the subject of many Victorian prints. Alas, the tunnel portals were hidden from our view. Dover Harbour comes into view. There a some more ups and down and views of Dover Harbour, before we dip down to cross beneath the A20. After this we reach the path which will take us up to the Western Heights.

We view Dover Harbour from the top of the steep Shakespeare Cliff.

Here's Dover Harbour with a Cross-Channel ferry.

We make our gradual descent along the undulating cliff top.

Here are some more undulations.

Here we can even look back to get a distant glimpse of Folkestone Harbour.

Now it's time for a "piccy"!

There are some more undulations ahead ...

... as we descend to the A20.

Still some more to go.

Yes, we are on the North Downs Way. But we are very much south.
Yes, "north" is right.

The White Cliffs of Dover come into view ...

... and there's still some nice landscape before we reach the A20.

Western Heights

Dover's Western Heights are characterized by massive fortifications, begun in the 1770s, extended during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), modernised in the period 1853-1870 and occupied by the Army until 1961, so the explanatory notice tells us. The fortifications were very interesting per se. In addition, these Western Heights gave us good views of Folkestone and its harbour and the famous Dover Castle on the opposite hill. It was, of course, well worth the final climb to appreciate the history which simply oozed out of these fortifications.

Before reaching "The Heights" we passed the remains of a small 12th century characteristically circular church built by the well-known Knights Templar.

On our left we see what probably was part of the military complex. We shall shortly take a narrow path on our right to scale the actual "Western Heights".

We see Dover Castle "side-on".
Dover Castle was founded in the 11th Century. The castle is close to the closest point in England to France, less than 30 miles separating the two countries at this point. BBC's Radio 4 programme on 27th July 2017, "The Long View: Cyber-Attacks and the Great Siege of Dover Castle" presented by Jonathan Friedman, compared today's cyber-attacks with the Siege of Dover Castle in 1216. Dover Castle is the largest castle in England and is regarded as the "Key to England". So there!

Another view from the Western Heights is that of Dover Priory Station.
It looks like a model railway from here.

Dover Castle and associated buildings.

Some of the massive fortifications on the Western Heights.

It's those fortifications again.

Dover Castle, ...

... fortifications, ...

... Dover Castle again, ...

... and yet more of Dover Castle.


We descended to Dover Priory Station with its high speed connection to Saint Pancras and Stratford, and its "normal speed" connection to Victoria and other South London termini. We had the option of visiting the hostelry opposite the station - perhaps on another occasion! It had been a good day for all of us.

The station and the nearby Dover College occupy the site of the former Dover Priory.
Here is the old gatehouse in the grounds of the college.

Thank You All for a Nice IVC Day Out!

And now it's time to say: "Thank you Adrian for suggesting and leading this walk. Thank you everyone for your company. Thank you to the weather gods for bringing good walking weather, mainly dry and not too hot". So, another successful IVC day out!