Our first serious walk this year, and most strenuous walk to date. The walk up the white cliffs out of Dover were a challenge for us unseasoned walkers. However, we did enjoy the scenery, and took ample opportunity to stop and look back at Dover and took heaps of photos, mainly to catch our breath.
We started the walk from the bus station in Dover, where the signs for North Downs Way are displayed quite prominently as we alighted off the bus. A short walk through the adjacent park heading towards St Mary the Virgin church, where we took our starting photo. A point to remember here, at the end of the park is a toilet block, well worth noting if you have just arrived after a long bus trip, or you are hanging around waiting for the next bus.
You can download directions for the walk from SWC – Saturday Walkers Club
The directions include a circular walk out of Folkestone; and directions for continuing the walk into Dover. We printed out the walk directions; checked out the route on Google maps and then on the day decided to walk from Dover to Folkestone, opposite direction to the walk notes, mainly because the wind was blowing from the north-east and we always prefer to walk with the wind at our backs.
FOLLOW THE SIGNS for NORTH DOWNS WAY
Soon as we found the signs for the North Downs Way we just followed those, and had the notes in our backpack in case we needed to check the details at any point. Fortunately, it was easy enough to follow the signs, and basically as long as you have the coastline in view all the way it is simple to follow.
From the bus station follow the signs which take you to the seafront, there you will have a great view of the enclosed harbour.
We decided to walk the length of the Prince of Wales Pier, for a look back at Dover and the castle. It was a cold day and with the wind chill factor along the pier, we walked briskly, taking photos here and there, and then once frozen enough, promptly headed off up the road towards Folkestone. WALK OUT OF DOVER
Heading out of Dover, from the pier, was the only part of the route where we had to endure walking beside the A20 with it’s traffic noise and pollution. As you leave the harbour you need to cross to the other side of the road and walk against the traffic coming into Dover, because there is no footpath on the left hand side of the road exiting. Further down the road there is an underpass and then not long after you are away from the road, and hiking up those white cliffs.
Hiking up the cliffs out of Dover
View down to Samphire Hoo
World War II bunkers
Prior to World War II and the invention of radar, acoustic mirrors (photo far left) were built as early warning devices around the coasts of Great Britain, with the aim of detecting incoming enemy aircraft by the sound of their engines.
The most famous of these devices still stand at Denge on the Dungeness peninsula and at Hythe in Kent.
This one can be found on the North Downs Way between Dover and Folkestone, close to mid-way.
EASY OR STRENUOUS PATH?
Here the path took us towards the road, and not wanting to leave the coastline, we found a path between houses which took us back to the top of the cliffs. As we approached a caravan site the path narrowed and then we saw the sign for The Warren, luckily there were a couple of walkers resting on the bench beside and we enquired about the path. They had just come up the path from the beach, a steep, zig zag, stepped and slippery path, so we decided to take the path down to sea level and walk The Warren into Folkestone.
Walking the Warren
Below the path was the railway line, and we crossed it by a foot bridge, a short distance from where we finally descended the cliffs. OK so this was the worst part of the walk, the steep climb out of Dover was nothing compared to this descent. The stepped path was hazardous, slippery in places with mud, uneven terrain, and the steps were at irregular height, and my knee and hip joints were complaining dismally about half way down.
On our way down we met a guy walking up, who said he prefers to do it up instead of down, but I am not sure I would like to do it again either way! It took me a good three days to get the stiffness out of my ligaments. Bah hum bug!
After the descent the path hugs the railway fencing until you reach the foot bridge. Cross the bridge and you are heading along the beach front into Folkestone.
Time for lunch and a sit down after the steep descent
At the end of the beach the sandy shore turned into rocks and boulders, so reluctantly we followed the path up through the wooded area towards the Martello Tower.
From here we could see Folkestone Harbour and we were relieved it was down hill from here, no more hills to climb.
We sat and enjoyed a lovely snack from Chummy’s at Folkestone Harbour, and then proceeded up one more small hill to the bus station.
Glad to be sitting on the bus taking us back to Canterbury, where we caught the next bus to Whitstable. The walk took us approximately 5hrs 30mins, we didn’t have a map, followed the signs, asked passers by along the way for clarification when needed, and congratulated ourselves on making it to the end in one piece.
Totally grateful for my health, and love getting out and walking….