Walk 5 – Dover docks to St Margaret's Bay, Kent
One thing you'll notice when walking the shoreline from Dover docks to St Margaret's Bay, Kent, is that the tide doesn't recede very far in places. But timed right, there are a number of wrecks, engines, caves, tunnels and even an old WWII mine to be discovered.
Pulling into the near empty National Trust car park at Fox Hill Down, grey is the only word that sprang to mind. The cloud is clingy but not sunken enough to obscure the ever busy ferry terminal at Dover docks with its crackling tannoy.
Walking east along the Saxon Shore Way and White Cliffs Country Trail, the trail soon drops to Langdon Hole where the chalky path zig-zags down like an old penny arcade game with me being the ball.
The beach step ladder (slippery when wet) is sited by WWII Coastal Artillery Searchlight placements, sadly deteriorating rapidly. As the tide retreats, look for the wreck of the Preussen. Built in 1902, it was the world's largest five mast sailing ship, unfortunately wrecked in 1910.
At this point, I walked west to the harbour wall promptly slipping, smashing my left knee on the abundance of ruined, slime covered, masonry and metal. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Retracing my steps, I ventured eastwards picking a path over greasy rockfalls and sharp seaweed covered slabs, lovingly spotted with seagull evacuation.
Rain starts to spit slowly evolving into a steady curtain of wet. This I'm not pleased to say, makes the going even more treacherous.
Before long a narrow chalk 'tunnel' appears at the base of the cliffs, while small caves make ideal luncheon venues.
Shortly before St Margaret's Bay, the beach is littered with rusting engines of varying origin and the carcasses of long dead vessels. Not forgetting the WWII sea mine. A haven for scrap metal dealers.
In the conditions, it's been a long few miles and the concrete walkway at St Margaret's Bay brings welcome relief, not to mention a wooden stool by the bar.
The return journey follows the Saxon Shore Way over the White Cliffs, passing the retired South Foreland Lighthouse (National Trust, open to visitors) eventually teasing with distant views of Dover Castle in the sunset.
On this walk…
- Take extra care – this stretch of coastline is very slippery
- The wrecks are sharp and unstable
- Allow plenty of time for the 3-mile beach leg
- OS Explorer map 138 Dover, Folkestone & Hythe