It is ironic that one of this “Green and Pleasant Land’s” most iconic symbols are the “White Cliffs” of its Southeast corner. The White Cliffs of Dover stand as an emblem of the defiance of “fortress Britain” against the potential invasions of both Napoleon and Hitler, and they have been beacons of safety to returning air crews and mariners alike.
Today, the cliffs are one of the great landmarks of this island nation. Much of this area of coast is maintained by the National Trust, and the trust provides a very good visitors’ centre for those taking in the natural and national wonder.
We started our visit by stopping at the National Trust’s White Cliffs Centre for a look around and a hot drink. The Cafe overlooks the Port of Dover, and it was nice to sit in the cafe and watch the ferries coming in and out of the harbour. The service was attentive, and the coffee and tea good. The fruit scone, was a little dry, but not bad, and the clotted cream and blackcurrant jam more than made up for it. The Trust shop has the usual souvenirs, and the Centre provides a good base for walks along the cliffs and to just watch the sea.
The National Trust provides miles of footpaths and trails to view the scenery, wildlife, and historical sites within the White Cliffs area. On clear days the French coast is visible, and the various vantage points allow the cliffs themselves to be taken in. There is also a wheelchair friendly short path which leads to a viewing point as well.
The iconic cliffs are well worth seeing. Whether from sea (on ferry or boat tour), or from land looking from Dover or the National Trust site, these spectacular chalk cliffs are a must see. The National Trust cafe is a good starting point for these views. As I have noted, there a loads of trails, and a convenient walk runs from right above the Dover Port to the Lighthouse near the cafe. The Dover Castle is also nearby, and history and nature are all there to take in.
Positioned above the port, stands Dover Castle. The fortress, from its Medieval heart to the World War Two tunnels complex, is a sign of England’s defiance of invasion. It, unlike the surrounding cliffs, is maintained and administered by English Heritage. Whether the Great Tower, the WW2 tunnels, or the Operation Dynamo exhibit, the castle has much to offer a visitor. There are also several cafes and eateries within the complex.
The Port of Dover sits below the cliffs, and boat tours and day excursions to the Continent (via the ferries) are available for those wanting to go further afield.
Dover’s White Cliffs and attractions provide a full and rich experience whether for a day, or even a longer stay.