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This Week's Walks - Archive

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This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Dover to Deal - the White Cliffs for £10

SWC walk 30 - Dover to Deal
Length: 17l.2km (10.7 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

10.37 train from St Pancras (Southeastern Highspeed platforms) to Dover, arriving 11.41

Buy a ticket in advance - a day return to Deal - up to 6pm the day before, online on the Southeastern website or at staffed Southeastern stations, using the Southeastern Summer Offer.

Using the above offer, the return fare is just £10. I am not sure whether there is limited availability on the offer, but book early to avoid disapppointment. Otherwise it is £21 with a Network Card so long as you use the Southeastern machines at St Pancras (eg go up onto the departure level and use the machines just by the barriers).

I hope this above offer works OK: it is an obscure promotion with odd rules, one being that it only applies to trains after 10am, even on Saturday, hence the late start. Another rule of the offer is that "you cannot break up and resume your journey": does this mean a Deal return won't work at the barriers at Dover? I honestly don't know. 

If you are a South Londoner and really really really want to be perverse you could take the 10.07 from Victoria, 10.23 Bromley South, arriving Dover at 12.06 and walk fast to catch up. The £10 offer also applies on this train. But taking the Victoria line to Kings Cross to use the high speed train makes more sense and is a LOT faster on the way back: see below.

For walk directions click here.

You've seen Dunkirk: now go and see where it happened. This walk gives you a grandstand view of that important little 20.7 miles of sea, without which we would now be living in a Europe dominated by Germany (Err.....). For a walk on the airy heights it is easy underfoot - only two climbs, few undulations. Lots of views of ferries.

Lunch is at the Coastguard pub on the beach in St Margaret's Bay, which does food till 14.45, but if you can't hold out that long, the White Cliffs Visitor Centre earlier in the walk does sandwiches and the like. There is also usually a refreshment kiosk open on the beach at St Margaret's Bay.

Note that in the whole middle section of this walk your phone may switch to being on a French network: this maybe does not matter as much as it did now the EU has banned extortionate roaming charges, but you still may find yourself using minutes or bytes not included in your package.

For tea, the Blue Birds Tea Room was closed for refurbishment or conversion into something else when I passed in June, but it is too soon after lunch anyway. The Zetland Arms in Kingswood, at the start of the long flat Deal beach, is an alternative mid afternoon stop: open on fine afternoons and with tables right by the sea. Otherwise, Deal has lots of options: I love the place at the end of the pier even if the service is a bit dozy: the views are tremendous. But other walkers have other favourites. Most SWC-ites skip the short walking tour of the old town in the walk directions in their mad rush to get to the station, but they shouldn't and neither should you.

Sea swimming: Low tide is at 5.50pm and so there should be sufficient depth for swimming at St Margaret's Bay at lunchtime: it is not a bad place for a dip at that, a scenic and tranquil bay, but there are currents further out, so be careful. At any point on Deal beach you will find a strong current parallel to the shore: it doesn't mean you can't swim but don't go too far out and don't expect to come back to the shore at the same place you left your clothes. Towards low tide the water can be rather mucky, but I have swum in it before and am not dead yet.

Trains back are at 31 past train direct to St Pancras, taking 1 hour 23 minutes. Unless you did not get a £10 ticket and have not paid the high speed supplement, you would have to be really peverse to want to go back to Victoria, since this takes an hour longer (2hr 21) even if the connections work OK, but for the record the 00 past train northbound from Deal to Faversham offers you a rather tight 5 minute change at Faversham to a Victoria service. T=2.30


Mike A said...

For those living in the East End, the deal seems to work from Stratford International too. The departure time there is 10:44

Anonymous said...

Bit of a late start - is this to allow a warm up swim?

Walker said...

It is always nice when people read the walk post!!!! The 10.37 start is because the £10 offer only applies to trains after 10am

Walker said...

If anyone wants to pay the full £20 fare and get the 9.37 and have a swim on Dover Beach while the others catch up, I would be up for that....

Walker said...

N=20 on this walk. A lovely sunny morning on the white cliffs. France visible from Calais to Bologne and the ferries going back and forth. I never tire of this view. Some old SWC hands were apparently seeing it for the first time, having never done the walk before.

Lacking my usual support team, I thought I might be the only swimmer at St Margaret's Bay, but I arrived to find four already in the water and quickly joined them. Lovely clean water, sparkling sun, but the water was colder than it should have been, possibly due to an offshore wind (it blows warmer coastal water out to sea and lets colder water well up to replace it). But still, a lovely dip.

Lunchers spilt between the pub and the beach kiosk (whose burgers and toasted thingies were surprisingly tasty). The two kiosk staff were a bit overstretched but their business was about to take a dive. All through the swim there had been frightful clouds to the north: as we finished lunch it began to rain.

There were a couple of rumbles of thunder at this point but nothing more, and the shower did not last too long. There were two more in the next couple of hours under autumnal grey skies but then the sun started to appear again. The light patterns over the sea in the meantime were wonderful: see the SWC Facebook page for photos.

By this time I had lost the group, so when the sun broke through as I was walking along Walmer Beach I quickly diverted for an idyllic swim, warmer than the last had been, with gorgeous hues out to sea as the clouds fled east. (So overall official weather report for this walk is w=sun-then-showers-then-sun.)I had a third swim at Deal Pier as the sun declined. I missed those who went to tea in the cafe at the end of the pier but found three of them soon after, replete from chips at a new place on the seafront called the Seaview.

The four of us got the 7.30 train. Everyone else presumably got earlier trains. I hoped they stayed long enough to see the sun come out.

Walker said...

Photos of this walk: