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Sophie Hewitt
24th July 2023

Famous for its iconic White Cliffs, written into the history books for its clifftop fortress, and boasting spectacular views to the Channel and France, it’s in White Cliffs Country’s nature to tell a good story. This corner of Kent has been at the forefront of Britain’s history for centuries, so if you’re looking to delve in and learn about everything from the Romans to World War II, it’s here you need to begin.

Not only that, but those clifftops and coastal paths offer beautiful views and prime walking territory, so you’d best pack your walking boots for a getaway here. And with so much coastline and countryside, it’s only natural that the food and drink to be found in White Cliffs Country more than lives up to the Garden of England’s foodie reputation.

Ready to turn the first page of White Cliffs Country’s story? Let’s dig in.

Local stories

The towns of Dover, Deal and Sandwich that make up White Cliffs Country, naturally have some pretty impressive stories to share. We’ll start in Sandwich, home to the Sandwich Guildhall Museum in the centre of the historic town. The building is a marvel itself, as a 16th century Guildhall that houses treasures including the 1300 AD Sandwich Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, plus artefacts from the Mesolithic Period! And the pages of the history books just keep on turning over in Dover. In the heart of the Dover Museum sits the Bronze Age Boat Gallery, home to, you guessed it, the famous Bronze Age Boat that was discovered in the early 90s. Thought to be 3,500 years old, its discovery was of international significance, making a visit to the Museum an absolute must for any history lover.

Just along the coast, the town of Deal has become a thriving hub of independent shops, restaurants and, more recently, filming locations. Its history is no less rich, making the Deal Museum an intriguing place to spend an afternoon. With the motto Adjuvate Advenas: “Befriend the Stranger”, it’s in Deal’s nature to welcome visitors and share the town’s tales, from its smuggling heritage to its maritime links and long-running connections with the Royal Marines.

Step into the history books

If your approach to history is hands-on, we hear you, and so does Sandwich Medieval Centre. Hosting workshops throughout the year, Sandwich Medieval Centre’s aim is to keep those medieval crafts alive, educating visitors in the lost crafts and skills that were once part of everyday life in Sandwich. Book yourself in to a workshop and you’ll have the chance to flex your skills and try your hand at anything from stone carving to calligraphy and book binding. From hands on to best foot forward, Deal’s Historic Walking Tour will take you along Deal seafront and back in time to tales of Romans landing, Henry VIII’s grand plans, and the notorious Goodwin Sands that claimed ships and treasures that are still waiting to be found.

We’re upping the pace with our next visit, the East Kent Railway. This heritage line once served the Kent Coalfield on a four-mile loop through White Cliffs Country’s rolling countryside and pretty villages. Jump aboard for a taste of history, not to mention views of chalk-lined cuttings, cliffs and gorgeous countryside.

Remembering the Few

We’ve already touched on this destination’s important role in England’s history, but one of the county’s most important monuments is the Battle of Britain Memorial. Set high on the cliffs, the National Memorial remembers The Few who bravely risked their lives in the skies above as the Battle of Britain raged on in the summer and autumn of 1940. The Christopher Foxley Norris Memorial Wall stands as a reminder of The Few, listing the names of all those known to have flown in the Battle of Britain. Inside, the Scramble Experience, provides further insight into the lives of The Few, with interactive audio-visual displays. Upstairs the Cockpit Cafe provides refreshments and incredible views across the Channel to France.


English Heritage

White Cliffs Country boasts some pretty impressive castles and forts. Climb to the top of the White Cliffs for a visit to Dover Castle, an icon whose history dates back to 1066 (but with the history of the site going back to Roman times), has been at the centre of many a siege and royal intrigue. In later years, its importance continued, as the very place where Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, was planned. Visit those very wartime tunnels, climb to the top of Henry II’s Great Tower, and be immersed in one of England’s most important fortresses.

Just along the coast two very different Tudor castles await. The first, Walmer Castle, has been home to the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, including the Duke of Wellington and the Queen Mother. Inside the castle walls you’ll discover plenty of tales from the castle’s past, not to mention an original pair of Wellington’s boots! But it’s outside where this pretty coastal castle really shines. The acres of grounds have been beautifully transformed over the years into formal gardens, glades and woodland walks, making them some of the most spectacular gardens in Kent. Our second Tudor fortress is Deal Castle, another of King Henry VIII’s commissions, built to defend the country. Today you can still roam the underground tunnels and spy spectacular sea views from the castle.

The newly reopened Richborough Roman Fort is our final English Heritage stop, which was the first stop of the Romans when they arrived in England. Growing to become an important trading post, this was the entrance to Roman England. Signs of the Saxon Shore Fort, built to defend the port, can still be seen today, while the replica Roman Gateway offers incredible views and a spectacular insight into how this important Roman hub would have once looked.

Cultural curiosities

With so many stories, this region is naturally a creative hub, with Linden Hall Studio in Deal dedicated to showcasing an ever-changing range of sculpture and painting. The gallery’s 11 shows a year and collection of some of the most respected British artists in their fields, not to mention its range of masterclasses, screenings, and lectures, have made it one of Kent’s leading galleries, and an absolute must on your list.

We told you Deal was known for its cultural credentials, and Rees & Rees jewellery design studio is one of its highlights. Whether you want to pick up a bespoke piece that’s been beautifully crafted in the studio, or learn the art of jewellery making yourself, this is an absolute gem. In these workshops students of any skill or experience will be guided by Simon Rees to craft their very own piece of jewellery.

Stretch your legs and tempt your taste-buds

Remember when we mentioned White Cliffs Country’s landscapes? We’re about to share more at the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory. This natural haven is committed to the conservation of incredible habitats and wildlife to be found in Sandwich Bay. Break out your walking boots and your wanders will lead you through paddocks, wetlands and meadows, on the trail of wildflowers, migrating birds and insects. As one of the first reprieves for migrating birds, this oasis is one of national importance and true beauty. Take guided walks, listen to talks or set off under your own steam on a visit to this natural escape.

You’re on holiday, so that means ice cream, but here in White Cliffs Country, we don’t just do any old ice cream. Solley’s farm fresh ice cream is made right here in Kent, in fact the milk and cream used to craft this delicious ice cream is sourced just one mile away from the ice cream parlour in Ripple (how perfect is that name?), at Solley’s very own farm – talk about cutting down the carbon footprint. Head to the Parlour and choose from over 20 flavours, before hitting the trails through the countryside around the farm – we reckon a walk is the perfect excuse to return for another scoop!

Tuck in

We talk a lot about our local produce here in Kent, so it’s no surprise that we also have some of the best restaurants around. With its positioning in the Top 50 Gastropubs, The Dog at Wingham is the natural choice for a locally sourced feast in White Cliffs Country. The chefs here are passionate about Kent food and drink, with dishes ranging from pan-fried cod to fillet of local plaice and venison. The three-course Sunday lunch menu is mouth-watering, and the guestrooms upstairs offer a cosy excuse to take a look at that wine list. And before you ask, four-legged friends are of course welcome to visit their namesake.

In Deal The Lane’s Cocktail Masterclass is the perfect way to shake up your staycation. Learn how to craft a selection of cocktails with their master bartenders, picking up all the techniques, tips, and flair to impress. This 90-minute class is a great way to learn something new with friends.

A room with a view

Dover Marina Hotel and Spa is right on the seafront in Dover, so of course you can expect views to make you swoon. Beautifully furnished, all the rooms offer the perfect retreat after a busy day of exploring, but our favourites have got to be the Seaview rooms, which have those not-to-be-missed views across the Channel, with some even boasting their very own balcony. While away an afternoon being pampered in the spa or settle in for dinner and drinks in one of the bars and restaurants, including Marco Pierre White’s Mr White’s Chophouse, which offers a menu of English classics with a side of French flair. For a real treat, the afternoon tea provides that perfect combination of holiday indulgence and beautiful surroundings.