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Saxon Shore and the White Cliffs of Dover 1

Saxon Shore and the White Cliffs of Dover

Overview

This walking tour provides some of the finest coastal walkings in England and is rich in historical sites and literary associations. The Saxon Shore was a military command of the late Roman Empire, consisting of a series of fortifications on both sides of the English Channel. Several Saxon Shore forts survive in the east and south-east of England. The unrivalled diversity of scenery includes panoramic views over Romney Marsh from the escarpment that marks the ancient coastline between Folkestone and Rye and, of course, the stunning White Cliffs of Dover. The White Cliffs of Dover, part of the North Downs formation, is the region of English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliff face, which reaches a height of 110 m, owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. The cliffs, on both sides of the town of Dover in Kent, stretch for eight miles (13 km).

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Sandwich

Arrive and overnight in the pretty historic town of Sandwich. Based on the River Stour, it has many medieval buildings listed as notable historic properties and well-preserved gated old town. Nearby Richborough Fort, part of the Saxon Shore, is known as one of the most important Roman sites in the country. Sandwich also gave its name to the food by way of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the word sandwich is now found in many languages.

Day 2: Sandwich to St Margaret’s | 18 km / 11 mi

Setting off from Sandwich, the path takes you South and West following the coast through Deal and Walmer’s habitations, thought to be one of the first places that the Romans landed when invading Britain. From here the path begins to ascend onto the White Cliffs of Dover. The second night of the itinerary is spent in the village of St Margaret’s. Channel swimmers and submarine telephone cables start from St Margaret’s Bay. At the north end of the bay, there is a war memorial commemorating the Dover Patrol. This point also marks the western end of the line which defines the divide between the North Sea and the English Channel, the opposite end being at the Walde Lighthouse near Calais.

  • Walking for the day: 11 miles / 18 km
  • Accommodation: Lenox House or similar

Day 3: St Margaret’s to Folkestone | 19 km / 12 mi

Departing from St Margaret’s, the path continues across the White Cliffs. You pass through Dover and then continue along the top of the North Downs Hills above Folkestone. The train terminal of the Eurotunnel trains that run to France under the English Channel is visible on this walk. Accommodation close to Folkestone for overnight. Folkestone is a port town, lying at a valley between two cliffs. The major landmark in Folkestone, apart from the harbour, is the Leas, the cliffs above the beach. A Martello Tower stands on the cliff above Copt Point. Built in 1806 as a defence against Napoleon, it has also been a Coast Guard lookout, a family home, a golf clubhouse and a Second World War Naval mine control post. It now houses a visitor centre. The Folkestone White Horse is carved on Cheriton Hill.

Day 4: Folkestone to Lympne/Tenterden | 13 km / 8 mi

Today the walk descends and leaves the North Downs, and then continues along the neighbouring Greensand Ridge as you make your way towards the village of Lympne. You’ll pass by Lympne Castle, a medieval castle that was built in the 12th century. You will again be walking close to the coast here. Below the castle are the remains of a Roman Fort. Private transfer (25 min) to Tenterden or nearby for overnight accommodation as there are no appropriate accommodations available at Lympne. Tenterden is a town with a large conservation area in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. It stands on the edge of the remnant forest The Weald, overlooking the River Rother’s valley. It was a member of the Cinque Ports Confederation.

  • Walking for the day: 8 miles / 13 km
  • Accommodation: Brook Farm or similar

Day 5: Tenterden to Appledore/Tenterden | 18 km / 11 mi

Following the former coastline along the Northern edge of Romney Marsh, the path makes a series of ups and downs along the line of low cliffs. The path takes you past some remote and small villages before arriving in Appledore. Appledore is a village at the River Torridge’s mouth, famous for the Hocking’s Ice Cream, only sold in North Devon. From Appledore, you’ll be transferred back to your overnight’s accommodation in Tenterden.

  • Walking for the day: 11 miles / 18 km
  • Accommodation: Brook Farm or similar

Day 6: Appledore to Rye | 13 km / 8 mi

Private transfer back to Appledore (10 min). The path heads across what was the former sea bed and continues until reaching the Isle of Oxney. Not an island as the name suggests now but formally an island that was part of the coastline until the River Roth changed its course in the 18th century leaving this area as higher ground. On the far side of this former island, the path descends cliffs and then is pleasant walking along the Royal Military Canal until reaching the town of Rye where you overnight.

  • Walking for the day: 8 miles / 13 km
  • Accommodation: Hayden’s or similar

Day 7: Rye to Hastings | 18 km / 11 mi

On this final day, the walk continues through Winchelsea and then across the Firehills of East Sussex, known for their marvellous views. You then reach the end of the Saxon Shore in the town of Hastings. Overnight in Hastings.

Day 8: Departure

Departure or an extra day on request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of charming small hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

While not too demanding, most days offer 4-5 hours of walking on average, and you need to be reasonably fit to complete the walk. Some steeper ascents and descents over the White Cliffs and Greensand, but nothing technical and no scrambling involved (read more about difficulty grades). The trail follows well-maintained footpaths, open fields and some minor roads. The trail is waymarked only sporadically. A comprehensive guidebook and map are supplied. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the mid-April until mid-October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. If you are a seasoned and well-equipped hiker, we can eventually book you on off-season dates.

Getting there

Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is London Heathrow (LHR).

By train or bus
  • Arrival in Sandwich is possible by rail. Journey time from London downtown is about 1.5 hours. Journey time from Hastings to London is about 1.5 hours. Please check the Traveline website for up-to-date timetables or use the Omio planner above.
  • If arriving via boat from Europe, the nearest port is Dover, from where trains connect to Sandwich (approx. 45 minutes).

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in twin/double rooms, usually with an en-suite or a private bathroom (3-star hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses as listed in the itinerary)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information: personalised trip notes and maps (emailed before departure and a hard copy provided at the first hotel; one set per booking)
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel – up to 20 kg per person
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

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