As well as being an impressive natural feature, the White Cliffs of Dover have now become the most iconic image which represents Great Britain. Found within the Kent region of the UK, the 350-foot-high cliffs are a known landmark for those visitors heading into Dover.
It has been these impressive images throughout our life, which led us to adding the White Cliffs of Dover to our bucket list. But did you know that you can walk along the cliffs and view them from close up? We’re here to tell you about our experience visiting this incredible site and why you may want to add it to your list.
What are the White Cliffs of Dover?
As we’ve already mentioned the White Cliffs of Dover can be found in Kent, which is on the southeast area of England. They are made from chalk which is finely grained pure limestone, and it is what gives them that beautiful white colour. The chalk layers have built up over millions of years with help from the skeletal remains of planktonic green algae. As the algae died and sank to the ocean floor its remains along with other creatures, formed the cliffs. Then the land mass shifted, and the seabed became exposed giving us the White Cliffs of Dover.
Natural erosion keeps the cliffs so white, and charities work to protect it from man made erosion. The end result is spectacular scenery and a great place to visit. We’ll give you the low down on how to get there, what facilities are available and what you can see as you walk along the cliffs.
Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover
How to Get There
We drove to the cliffs past Dover port and through the town before making our way along a windy country road. If you head to the National Trust website, they have details on how to get to there in more detail. There are plenty of signposts though and we found the car park without any hassle.
The car park which opens from 7am to 7pm is relatively large, but you can find yourself parking up a hill which is fine coming down, but tough heading back; especially after walking the cliffs. Currently the cost to park is £5 for a car, £7 for motorhomes and £10 coaches, so pretty much the average for a National Trust property.
You can cycle to the cliff’s facility, but you must leave any bikes in the racks available as they are not allowed on the cliff path. There are buses and trains to the town of Dover, but you would have to take a taxi to the cliffs or walk, which can be quite difficult as it is a steep climb.
Facilities at the White Cliffs
As with many other National Trust sites, you will find facilities such as a shop and café should you need a rest after your walk. The café is open every day from 10am to 5pm and has an indoor and outdoor section. It offers the usual bits you would imagine, such as hot food, sandwiches, cakes, and drinks. You can of course bring your own food with you, but remember you are on a piece of British heritage so take any litter with you.
There is also a tearoom in the lighthouse at the other end of the cliff walk, so you can take a break and refresh before you walk back.
Next to the café is the shop and it is also open from 10am to 5pm every day. It sells locally themed items, homeware, and gifts, so you can expect the usual bookmarks, pens, and cups. But everyone loves a good tourist shop, so make sure you pop in because you never know what you will see.
You will also find a toilet on site which is open from 9.30 to 7pm and we found it to be pretty clean, which is rare for spots such as this.
Walking the White Cliffs of Dover
So, the first thing to note is that aside from the cost of parking, there is no additional cost to visiting the cliffs. If you’re a National Trust member then the experience is completely free, so that may be worth considering.
The walk along the cliffs is very rugged and bumpy, although there is a wheelchair accessible route up to the viewpoint, but it doesn’t go as far as the other trails. There are essentially three trails, one is along the cliff edge, one is a viewpoint walk where you can take incredible pictures and finally the full distance to the lighthouse. You can mish mash the walks, because we completed the full one and took in the viewpoint route too. At the other end of the longest trail is a Victorian lighthouse which was built in 1846 and is a nice little extra we didn’t expect to see during our visit.
It’s hard to explain what the view is like, as it will change daily because of the weather and location. Sometimes you can see across the English Channel to France, whereas many days it can be quite misty and so there is little visibility. Thankfully we visited on a day when you could just about see buildings in the distance in France. Make sure you wrap up because it can get windy on the cliffs, mainly because it’s so high up. Also take older shoes which you wouldn’t mind getting dirty, especially if it’s rained recently and there are muddy patches.
Don’t worry if you’re afraid of heights because you don’t need to stand close to the edge to enjoy the cliffs and scenery. There’s plenty of wildlife and flowers to see as you wander along the path.
Should I Visit the White Cliffs of Dover?
Of course you should! The iconic landscape is heavily connected to the British efforts during the Second World War. This was partly due to the song ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’ from Dame Vera Lynn who was the forces sweetheart. For many British people it shows the spirit of the country and our resistance against tyranny.
Aside from that, the cliffs are a beautiful geological marvel which shows the history of this incredible planet we call home.
If this is all too deep for you, then simply enjoy the wonderful walk with exiting views of the ocean and neighbouring France. You can even see Dover Castle in the other direction, which sits impressively on its mound.
We found the trail to be an enjoyable walk, but we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t physically fit. It could be classed as quite a distance from the car park to the lighthouse. But in all honesty our favourite trail was the viewpoint. It gave you the best spot for pictures of the cliffs and it was easier to access then the full route.
The White Cliffs of Dover has been on our bucket list for a while, and we’re so pleased we’ve now ticked it off. If you decide to go then we’d love to see your pictures, so make sure you tag us on Instagram.
Picture taken from the National Trust website.