The White Cliffs of Dover
Known throughout the world, the iconic White Cliffs are internationally recognised - so much so they were voted Britain’s most popular stretch of coastline! They have witnessed action and invasions throughout centuries - the historic Dunkirk evacuation was even planned from within them. Today they provide a welcome sight to the millions of visitors who visit White Cliffs Country.
Here are a few facts:
- The cliff face reaches up to 300 feet.
- The cliffs stretch for about 16 miles – about 8 miles (12km) each side of Dover.
- They are composed of soft, white chalk. Chalk is made up of a large number of tiny skeletons of plants (coccoliths) that floated in warm seas 130-65 million years ago. They sunk to the sea bed and over a long period of time were compacted to form chalk rock. For further information visit the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership website, and book a special tour with White Cliffs Geotours.
- Fossils – echinoids, brachiopods, bivalves and sponges are frequently found.
- We don’t have bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover…instead plenty of seagulls, fulmars, black-legged kittiwakes and some peregrine falcons. You are more likely to see bluebirds in America! However, they were a great symbol of hope during the Second World War.
- For nearly 20 years The National Trust has used a herd of Exmoor ponies to help maintain and improve the land on the cliff tops.
- The White Cliffs are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, they are at one end of the Kent Downs and part of the Heritage Coast.
- There are underground caves and tunnels in the cliffs. You can visit the Secret Wartime Tunnels - Sir Winston Churchill’s military headquarters during World War ll - and the Underground Hospital when you visit Dover Castle.
- An exciting new attraction has opened - Fan Bay Deep Shelter - the newly uncovered Second World War underground shelter! The tour also includes a chance to get up close to the First World War Sound Mirrors - early acoustic warning devices situated on the cliffs. Contact the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre (National Trust) to book a guided tour. After walking 1.5 miles along the cliffs, you will meet your guide who will kit you up with a hard hat and torch and take you 70 feet below ground! This is a great opportunity to discover a different world underneath the White Cliffs and to learn about the men who were responsible for the gun battery and lived below ground.
- The White Cliffs have inspired many writers, poets and film-makers. Shakespeare included them in King Lear, Ian Fleming’s character Sir Hugo Drax built his atomic rocket on the cliffs in Moonraker, Jane Austen often visited her brother at Goodnestone Park and began writing Pride and Prejudice after a staying there in 1796.
- Enjoy exhilarating cliff top walks and stunning views across the English Channel. On a clear day you can see France clearly – after all it is only 21 miles away!