giovedì 14 agosto 2014

From Dover to Deal walking along the White Cliffs

It may seems strange, but if you want to find something similar to a mountain near Ramsgate, you have to go to the sea. The White Cliffs of Dover are maybe the most famous and high chalk cliffs in all the Kent, and I couldn't resist their call; so on a little cloudly saturday I take the train from Ramsgate station, and in around 30 minutes I'm in Dover.

The town itself is not so attractive: very busy with some big grey buildings, sovietic style: Dovergrad? I walk along till the seaside, where several people are swimming. This has been for a long time one of the main gates between England and the rest of Europe: the long wharfs and the enormous castle on the hill, watching over the whole area, prove the strategic importance of this town.

Walk in some way through a very busy road along the sea, I start to ascend the east-cliff: my intent is to turn around the castle and reaching the White Cliffs from behind. It is not a big idea, because on the first part I'm always besides roads; the castle is really big, and only when I reach its east walls I finally find a footpath. I reach the Louis Breliot Memorial, whit a large thomb shaped airplane.

Louis Breliot Memorial

I hear noise of cars very close, so I decide to keep following the footpaths in the wood; my problem is that the road close to me is the one which connect Dover to its harbour: something similar to an highway; and it causes the interruption of the path I'm following! If I doesn't want to come back until the castle, I had to pass through the 4 lanes of this road. I wait for the opportune moment, then I run; stop for a while on the traffic island, then run again: I'm on the other side of the path, still alive, let's go on!

The new path is quite clean, but I soon leave him to take the cliff's direction: and after a few minutes into the wood I finally find the country road I was searching for. Honestly speaking, it is more dangerous to move here than to pass through the Dover's harbour road, because the road is very narrow and the cars go fast; but after 5 or 10 minutes I see the cartel of the White Cliffs.

Dover's Harbour from above

On my left there is a wodden gate, with the dual function of limiting the access to pedestrian only and not to make get off grazing animals. Theese are four or five donkeys, such dignified beasts, that seem not to care the subdued noises coming up from the busy Dover's Harbour, with great boats arriving and leaving with hundreds of people cars maybe other animals!

The trekking's most interesting section starts now: wide footpaths follow the ledges of the cliffs, where many years ago there were railways for the harbour.

Keeping on, the cliffs become higher and uniform, with no more interruption between the hill and the sea: only a white vertical fall. The contrast between the frightening cliff and the sweet fields followed by the footpaths become deeper and deeper, until a white light-house compares on the horizons.

The White Cliffs of Dover

This is the South Foreland Light-house, visible from a large part of the countryside all around, destination of classic walks on the cliffs from Dover. But I intend to go on, entering in the hearth of the National Trust: there's a sourt of valley between the light-house and the village of St Margaret at Cliffe, full of woods and paths less busy than the ones I did before, close to Dover. It is not a wild area, this is obvious, but sometimes you can feel only the music of the nature all around you.

I go through St Margaret village, alternating roads and new footpath hidden in the little shady woods, until I reach a high obelisk on the top of the hill, visible from Ramsgate in clean days. In front of me the promenade goes on, with lovely  fields and hedges interrupted by the cliff before the sea. The area is less crowded, an ideal place for slow walks.

One last steep down, and the cliffs end. I'm in Kingsdown, and a long level walk along the beach - a gravel beach, with the typical (and hyper-expensive) coloured huts - leads me to Deal.

Beach Huts in Kingsdown

 Lots of people are now having their afternoon walk: the space is well oranized, with the footpath besides the cycle path: I'm surprised by the endless series of park benches with dedications and sometimes flowers to dead people who loved this place. A nice way to keep their memory alive.

Once in Deal, with its Liberty hotels looking at the sea and the Pier, I take the train again to be back in time for the 18,00 dinner (or something similar)!

Deal's Castle

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