As the bus rounded the final bend at an hour which implied a far to early rise for my weary self the days trip instigator was immediately apparent; the imposing, white chalk cliffs only illuminated further with the days rarity of brilliant sunshine beaming full force. What the pictures (Google image searches…) don’t prepare you for is the wasteland of industry perched below. It should be no surprise; if you turn your head out to the ocean you’ll spy cliffs in the distance belonging to France and this port provides the shortest channel crossing. It was 10am, my return to London was at 5pm, I’d seen what I’d come to see, and it dawned on me that I had to fill a whole day here, in this sleepy seaside town of Dover.
The bus pulled up in the back alley streets, and admittedly my first mission was the regular morning caffeine ritual, which found me in a delightful courtyard drenched in sun, admittedly I was also thankful for the half hour I’d managed to fill.
From the town you look up to the 12th century Dover Castle, which has been beautifully maintained and stands impressively upon the famous white cliffs, in perfect position to guard against incoming ships from this narrow crossing.
I somehow snuck in, avoiding the £20 entry free and not feeling the slightest bit guilty but slightly empowered. It’s here you can glimpse the coastline from the watch points set in the cliffs from so many years ago, wander the underground tunnels, or visit the castle museum. The manicured, lush grounds provide the perfect reprieve from history overload and also are best enjoyed picnic in hand.
It was then on to climb the cliffs, the main attraction and rightly so. It is only on ascent that the cliffs open up, as you make your way through conserved area, that you see how far the cliffs stretch, and how vibrantly white they glow. Atop the pathways scatter endlessly; you can bravely teeter on the edge to gorge on the coastline views yours for the taking or make you way through the charming, very British fields complete with a heard of Exmouth ponies.
Along the end sits an aptly coloured white lighthouse, fitting perfectly with its chalklike perch amongst the vibrant green surroundings. You can spend hours here, with the round trip to the lighthouse a comfortable 2 hours, even more comfortable with an extra hour to simply lie in the sun and enjoy life.
If you find yourself here on an uncharacteristically scorching day as I did the pebble beach is a quieter version of Brighton, with a touch more room to move.
Living in London it’s easy to become detached with reality, and country escapes become a necessity. Dover is a place to breathe, and a great one at that, once you let it show you its treasures.