Spotlight on Dover & St Margaret-at-Cliffe
PUBLISHED: 16:10 23 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:10 23 April 2014
10 good reasons to visit
1 Beauty and sustainability
Pines Calyx Garden (01304 851737, CT15 6DZ) is a museum, conference and events venue whose underlying theme is the exploration of old and new models for sustainable land management. There’s a six-acre garden with a cascade, lake, grass labyrinth and a roundhouse shelter for picnics, as well as kitchen gardens, a Visitors’ Centre, a tea room and displays on environmental and local history themes.
2 White Cliff wonders
The Gateway to the White Cliffs (CT16 1HJ) is a Site of Special Scientific Interest on Langdon Cliffs, with a Visitors’ Centre, great views across the Channel, self-guided walks, tracker packs, events, and a gift shop, café and car park. Historic South Foreland Lighthouse (01304 852743, CT15 6HP) at St Margaret’s Bay is the site of Marconi’s wireless experiments, and has children’s events in school holidays and guided walks (note: no approach road for cars and it’s a steep climb).
3 Wartime secrets
Dover Castle (01304 211067, CT16 1HU) has a Great Tower that dates from the 1100s and supporting displays and exhibits, plus interactive games for children. There’s a Roman lighthouse and Saxon church, medieval tunnels, a Norman Keep, plus a gift shop and café. You can also see secret Second World War tunnels where service personnel worked and slept, and an underground hospital and wartime plotting room.
4 Eat, drink and have fun
There’s an excellent choice of top-quality restaurants and pubs, including Dino’s Italian Restaurant (01304 204678, CT16 1PJ) (Dover’s oldest family-run restaurant), The Coastguard (01304 851019, CT15 6DY) (on the beach at St Margaret’s Bay), Walletts Court Country Hotel Restaurant (01304 852424, CT15 6EW), White Cliffs Hotel and Bay Restaurant (01304 852229, CT15 6AT), The Smugglers Bar and Restaurant (01304 853404, CT15 6AU), The Red Lion (01304 853190, CT15 6AZ) and Dunkerley’s (01304 375016, CT14 7AH) (in nearby Deal).
5 Georgian watermill
Crabble Corn Mill (01304 823292, CT17 OUY) is Kent’s only working watermill and the original millstones are still used for grinding wholemeal flour. See five floors of machinery and milling demonstrations, choice of audio or guided tours and children’s activities. The tearoom overlooks the scenic millpond, there’s a shop (buy Crabble flour and local produce) and an art gallery. The annual Beer Festival takes place from 23-25 May.
6 Two great museums
Dover Museum (01304 201066, CT16 1PB) has displays of local history and archaeology, plus the Bronze Age Boat Gallery (the world’s oldest surviving sea-going boat), with interactive exhibits, computers and microscopes. Dover Transport Museum (01304 822409, CT16 2JX) has a collection of vintage transport, with road vehicles of all types, from bikes to buses. On 11 May there’s a classic motorcycle, scooter and autocycle day.
7 A slice of Roman Dover
The Roman Painted House (01304 203279, CT17 9AJ) is the remains of a Roman villa preserved within a modern building and the walls still have murals. There’s 400 sq ft of painted plaster, component parts of an underfloor heating system and display panels showing the story of Roman Dover. Built in AD 200, the house was demolished in AD 270, leaving three of the rooms intact, but buried.
8 Go shopping
De Bradelai Wharf (CT17 9BJ) is a waterfront fashion outlet centre based at Dover Marina, near to Dover Castle. Here you can get savings of up to 70 per cent on fashion items, homeware and furnishings; there’s a car park and Waves coffee shop. Charlton Shopping Centre (also with a car park) is in the town centre and offers a good choice of retailers; its main section is pedestrianised.
9 Take a clifftop walk
The Guardian recently selected a walk around the White Cliffs of Dover as among its 10 best walks around the country, and the White Cliffs Hotel (see above) has a number of marked-out routes surrounding it. These include the Frontline Britain Trail, Saxon Shore Way and the North Downs Way. The pretty neighbouring village of St Margaret-at-Cliffe has some lovely pubs and restaurants and the striking 12th-century St Margaret of Antioch church is well worth a visit. From the village you can walk to St Margaret’s Bay, which has an excellent shingle and pebble beach and is said to be the first place on mainland England reached by the rising sun.
10 A gift from Eurotunnel
Samphire Hoe (CT17 9FL) is a nature reserve, created by material dug to excavate the Channel Tunnel. It’s an ideal place for walks or sea angling, or for capturing the wild scenery for posterity as a painting. Here you can see wildflowers and grasses, and plenty of wildlife, including skylarks, mallards, grasshoppers and crickets. There are great views of the White Cliffs, guided walks and a tea kiosk.