Travel guides are useful however they often neglect to mention all the Hidden Gems of that place. This travel aims to explore Hidden Gems from all around the world. This week we are exploring the Hidden Gems of Dover in the U.K. and it has been written by PortExplore. PortExplore is a great is a travel blog written by Cathy Rogers who has years of experience in travel. Writing about the Hidden Gems of Dover comes naturally to her as with years of travel experience, she can easily give the best recommendations of things to do in Dover and places to see in Dover.
The majority of visitors to Dover arrive through the frankly uninspiring Ferry Port on the Eastern side of Dover Harbour, drive off the ferry and get out of Dover as fast as they can. Others arrive at the Western Docks by cruise ship and are hearded onto a coach trip to see the sights of London! So while most of these arriving passengers will have spotted the famous white cliffs from the sea and some may even have noticed the famous Dover Castle perched high above the port they are missing out on some of the real Hidden Gems of Dover. There is a lot more to Britains oldest port than white cliffs so make time on your visit for a little explore…
Old Dover Maritime train station
At the western edge of the harbour is a large brick built doorway with a steep flight of stairs and these lead to a long glazed walkway. Every passenger travelling from London to Calais would have used this passage from its construction in the 1920s until the late 1960s – a very evocative space. At the very end of the passage you can see down into the old ticket hall and past that is the entrance to the harbour wall. Although it is owned by Dover Sea Angling Association, they are normally happy to let visitors walk in. This is a really good camera opportunity and makes for some wonderful pictures of the port, cruise ships, the white cliffs and Dover Castle. So, if you’re looking for some Hidden Gems of Dover, I recommend starting here.
Shakespeare Beach & Cliffs
Walk back through the station walkway and at the bottom of the stairs turn left, follow the round round past the fisherman’s hut onto the shingle of Shakespeare beach. Although not a good place to swim because of the serious undertow, this is a good beach for a nice crunchy, bracing walk. Go right to the far end and you will find Shakespeare’s Cliff – it is called this because it is mentioned in the play King Lear. Shakespeare wrote a description of the Samphire pickers who scrambled down from the cliff top, clinging to a rope and clutching a basket to pick the green samphire – a local delicacy which you can still see growing on the cliff. Don’t attempt to climb around the headland or onto the cliff however as it is very unstable, with frequent rock falls.
Further to the west, on the other side of Shakespeare Cliff, but only accessible from the top of the cliffs, is an award winning nature reserve. To find it, follow the footpath out of Dover, marked as The North Downs Way, it will take you to the tunnel entrance and down through the cliffs to Samphire Hoe. A stunning location and outstanding scenery with peace and quiet, walks, wildflowers, birds and wildlife. This site becomes wilder the further you get from the visitor centre but most of the Hoe is accessible for wheelchair users and the mobility impaired who can follow a route marked on the map displayed by the Cafe. If you turn and look up the cliff you will be able to see remnants of the old footpath which used to be the only access but is now defunct and extremely unsafe. The 30 hectare site with amazing biodiversity is a peaceful place to see plants, butterflies, sheep, dragonflies and birds. The location of the Hoe, just across the Channel from mainland Europe, means it is an important area for migrant birds.
The Lanes Pub
After all this walking you will be please with Hidden Gem number 4! The Lanes Micropub in Worthington Street Dover, was named at Kent as Pub of the year 2018 by CANRA, the real ale society. It is small, friendly, family run and if you’re not a beer fan they also sell Kent wines, Mead, ciders and Perry (cider made from local pears). They don’t do food but are quite happy for you to buy something from the Deli opposite and bring it back with you! A refreshing change in these days of Gastropubs – good conversation, board games, no keg beer, lager, or piped music – a proper pub! This is one Hidden Gem of Dover that has something for everyone!
Music Gone By…
If you are interested in Vinyl do not miss this quirky little shop in London Road which is stuffed full of old vinyl records at really good prices! Otherwise shopping in Dover is a bit meh although you can sometimes find a real bargain in the De-Bradleigh Wharf Outlet stores down by the marina.
Climb up to the Western Heights, a wooden area above the port western docks for amazing views across to France on a clear day. You can follow various trails through to cliffs and discover the remains of a Knights Templar chapel, a roman lighthouse, WW1 dugouts and gun emplacements as well as the massive defences built to defend against invasion by the French, that never actually happened. You can see these Napoleonic defences… forts, barracks and a unique triple Helix staircase that run 140 foot down through the cliffs – lots to explore and see, or maybe just sit and look at the view!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about all the Hidden Gems of Dover in the U.K. This article was written by PortExplore and it would be amazing if you went to her website and had a look at all the amazing stuff that she’s up to. Also, make sure to follow her on social media to keep up to date on her adventures. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.