Dover, Deal and Sandwich
England's most charismatic chunks of chalk, chic eateries, boutique sleep spots, history-rich ports and prime golf courses, make this a must-see stretch of Kent coast.
The White Cliffs of Dover are iconic. Immortalised in song and film for decades, this spectacular wall of crumbly, creamy chalk stretches for 20 miles. Drink in its craggy beauty on a ferry to Dover or a high speed RIB; on a cliff-backed beach or a cliff-top trail to the South Foreland Lighthouse; the National Trust Visitor Centre and Samphire Hoe make great places to start.
The history is so vivid at Dover Castle the past feels more like the present. Overlooking the Port of Dover, this magnificent fortification is alive with vibrant furnishings, every-day artefacts and costumed actors. The audio-visual displays of the castle's Secret Wartime Tunnels evoke an underground hospital and the retreat from Dunkirk. Meanwhile, the Dover Museum provides a new twist on cross-channel ferries: a 3000 year-old, sea-going Bronze Age boat.
Next, time to re-fuel and rest. For a fine meal and sound sleep book the White Cliffs Hotel; check into The Marquis, a boutique restaurant-with-rooms; enjoy 4-star comfort at the Leaf Hotel or go all nautical at the Dover Marina Hotel.
You can find out more at www.whitecliffscountry.org.uk
Don't miss Deal in Kent with its award-winning high street, mazy smugglers' lanes and independent shops. Buzzing cafes and pubs sit alongside a photogenic seafront that's home to a sweeping pier and quirky maritime clock; the Timeball Tower. Prowl the battlements and captain's quarters at Deal Castle, then visit nearby Walmer Castle - this former command post to the Duke of Wellington even features an original pair of Wellington boots. For an action-packed-day, explore the 250 acre Betteshanger park on two wheels along miles of traffic-free cycle paths, or get really adventurous with den building and fossil hunting right in the heart of this former colliery! At day's end sleep beside the waves at the Royal Hotel on Deal seafront. Deal, Kent is all you need.
The picturesque ancient Cinque Port town of Sandwich boasts some of the best-preserved, half-timbered houses in the country. So why not take time to soak up some of the unique medieval atmosphere with a stroll around the Town Trail through narrow winding streets, past Norman churches, and along the old town walls. While here, be sure to ascend the medieval tower of St Peter’s for views across Sandwich.
You may like to wander through the lush gardens of the Salutation or go nautical with a river trip - upstream to the nearby Roman Fort at Richborough or out to sea past a thriving colony of seals.
Wildlife enthusiasts are bound to enjoy a visit to one of the town's nature reserves or the local Sandwich Bird Observatory. For the more adventurous, there are cycle routes through the town and along the nearby coast. And if golf's your bag - there are three links courses close by including Royal St. Georges, home to the 2020 Open and the championship links at Prince’s.
The fascinating history of this charming town is uncovered in the newly refurbished Guildhall Museum where Sandwich’s very own Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest are on display.
There are heaps of places to stay such as the riverside Bell Hotel and tempting eateries catering to every pocket and taste. And don’t forget to check out the local music scene at one of the many pubs.
Summertime is fun time, with regular weekend events such as 'Folk and Ale' and the Sandwich Festival. Check out all the details on www.sandwichevents.org.uk.