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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

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.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Sunday Walk - The White Cliffs: Dover to Deal or Sandwich (start time revised: now with a later train)

Length: 17.7 km (11.0 mi), Ascent/Descent: 475m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ½ hours, Toughness: 6 out of 10.
Too short for you?  Walk on to Sandwich (map-led). 

Take the 10.12 Dover Priory train from St. Pancras (Stratford I’nal 10.19) arriving Dover Priory 11.29.
Return trains from Deal: xx.18 (105 minutes to STP).
Return trains from Sandwich: xx.12 (110 minutes to STP).
Take the 09.37 Dover Priory train from St. Pancras (Stratford I’nal 09.44) arriving Dover Priory 10.41.
Return trains from Deal: xx.31 (87 minutes to STP).
Return trains from Sandwich: xx.25 (92 minutes to STP). 
Buy a Sandwich return  with High Speed Surcharge (same price as a Deal rtn). For a Super Off-Peak price: try Southeastern's ticket machines.

This simple walk (it should be impossible to get lost if you keep the sea on your right-hand side) is nevertheless one of the finest coastal walks in England, taking you right along the top of the famous White Cliffs of Dover. On a clear day, you get stunning views of the Channel, and the ferries buzzing in and out of Dover Harbour, and the French coast from Boulogne to Dunkerque.
There are two significant climbs, one out of Dover and the other out of St. Margaret's Bay. Otherwise the terrain is level or gently undulating. The last quarter of the walk is totally flat, along a tranquil coast path behind the pebble beach of Deal. Though less dramatic than the White Cliffs, this section of the walk is full of historical and natural interest, passing Walmer and Deal castles, and a stunning display of coastal flora on Deal’s shingle beach.
When using mobile phones on this walk, check they haven’t switched to a French network, as happens routinely at St. Margaret’s Bay, for example

Covid-compatibility: not many fenced paths presumably and lots of wide, open grassy cliffs; some congestion likely nearer Deal along the promenade (face coverings at the ready).

Lunch: Picnic, although some pubs/kiosks/ice cream vans may be plying for our business.
Tea: plenty of options in Deal and Sandwich, some of whom may sell takeout drinks and snacks.

For  walk directions, map, photos, height profile and gpx/kml files click here. T=2.30


ukvalerie said...

The train advertised as arriving at Dover Priory at 10.41 wasn’t given as an option from Stratford International. I’ve booked on the 9.19 and will check at the station. See you at Dover Priory, if not before. Valerie

Thomas G said...

Hi, Valerie. Thanks for this comment. You are absolutely right. I fell into National Rail's Covid-trap of not publishing the final weekend timetable until the Friday. On the weekends the service is still restricted and with fewer direct trains. I have now updated the post with the correct train times and journey lengths. We'll take a later start.

Thomas G said...

13 walkers at Dover's station, 1 more (a car driver) had already gone ahead and joined up on the cliffs, so n=14. 1 other SWC walkers was encountered at Dover, but she walked the other way (to Folkestone and Sandling, in non-SWC company). The forming of groups took a wee while and for a brief moment it looked as it we were just the one big group. Not quite what the protocol requires... Let's do better next time.
The rain had stopped before we got there and for the rest of the day it was w=mostly-sunny-with-a-very-fresh-breeze.
We set off in three groups which after some unfortunate intermingling became still three groups, but in different composition, then we were four groups once the 14th walker joined. Again, not quite what the protocol requires... Let's do better next time,
Splendid walk, with lots of variations possible along the various terraces of levels of the cliffs near Dover, where there were plenty of people, off the various nearby car parks mainly (also the visitor centre and cafe have re-opened), but also very wide paths. Further along, at St. Margaret's Bay, the first of many vans selling food or drink stuff was encountered (this one selling ice cream, but later some were selling cocktails or even pizza from a wood-fired oven, from converted VW Transporters!).
I walked on to Sandwich, neatly arriving a few minutes before the 17.12 train, and at least one other did the same (but missed that train). Most/all others presumably finished in Deal, at least 1 after a couple of swimming breaks.
Three groups of cyclists were encountered on the narrow clifftop Public Footpath, all being young parents with their children.

Anonymous said...

The slow group managed to lose one early on, who was asthmatic and struggling with the climb but then passed us at lunchtime and will hopefully let us know he made it all the way. The remaining 5 stayed together more or less all the way and took a very relaxed pace to reach Deal in plenty of time for the 17.19 train. In a moment of madness I decided to walk on to Sandwich, as uneventful as Deal is lively, for the 19.12 train - only two hours behind Thomas! Great walk, thanks for posting

Thomas G said...

So, 3 walkers went to Sandwich, catching 3 different trains...
As for that bit of the route: I liked it. Initially the beach is quite narrow just to your right, with the waves crashing a mere 20m away, then - once out of Deal - follows a longer stretch on the shingle seawall, with a links golf course on the left. You continue on tarmac from the Sandwich Bay Estate onwards, always with fine views of the Isle of Thanet and the (white) cliffs of Ramsgate ahead. Turn left along the Saxon Shore Way across the very scenic Royal St. George's Golf Course (well waymarked) and then cross or walk along several waterways, streams and ditches. Pretty and quiet, certainly very quiet compared to the hubbub that is Deal. Would do it again...