• Start: Walmer Castle
  • End: Walmer Castle
  • Country: England
  • County: Kent
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: There are shops and a pub in Walmer
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 138
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Take time out to enjoy the sea air and discover a wealth of history on a leisurely circular coastal walk through Kingsdown and Walmer

Kent walk of the month: Kingsdown and Walmer

Location: Walmer, CT14 7LJ

Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5km), allow 1 and a half hours

Step count: approx 4,375

OS Explorer Map: 138

Terrain: Field paths and surfaced paths. Some gentle slopes

Parking: There is parking available near the castle on Kingsdown Road

Refreshments & facilities: There are shops and a pub in Walmer

In the shadows of Walmer Castle, the start of this walk takes you into an area of open access land known as Hawkshill Freedown. A piece of chalky grassland, the Freedown is important to local wildlife, particularly wild flowers and butterflies.

The flat grassy plateau section is of great significance to the area, in a previous life it played host to a First World War aerodrome. Situated close to the Channel, the aerodrome acted as a safeguard against attacks by German aeroplanes on shipping. A memorial now stands on the site, dedicated to the 15 airmen who lost their lives while stationed at Walmer.

On a clear day, the site also provides wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and all the way across the Channel to Calais. There are numerous opportunities along the way to take a well-earned rest on one of the benches, giving you time to fully appreciate the panoramic scenery.

A summers walk isnt complete without a trip to the beach and our pathway continues towards the seafront, joining the Saxon Shore Way. There are again some wonderful sea views along this section of pathway and many ways to access the beach.

You may spot the nearby Walmer Lifeboat Station which has proved invaluable, saving lives for the last 150 years. The Walmer lifeboat Charles Dibdin was one of 19 lifeboats that took part in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in May 1940.

Returning to the start we again pass by the commanding Walmer Castle, a must visit English Heritage property that is open to the public all year round. The Castle was originally built during the reign of Henry VIII in 1540 as part of a chain of three coastal artillery defenses against attack from Europe.

Walmer, since the 18th century, has been the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Famous Lord Wardens have included Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Sir Winston Churchill, William Pitt the Younger and the Duke of Wellington.

The post was held for 23 years by the Duke of Wellington and his spirit still lives on at the castle, where the armchair in which he died in1852 can still be seen, along with a pair of original Wellington boots and a great many personal effects in the fascinating Wellington museum.

If you have the time, take a break in the picturesque gardens surrounding the house which includes a commemorative lawn, woodland walk, croquet lawn and a working kitchen garden. You may also wish to take advantage of the castle tearooms after working up an appetite on the walk.

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