We are quite an enthusiastic walking family so when my grandson asked me to join him on the CHALKUP21 walk from Dover to Deal I was more than happy to do so. The CHALKUP21 walks ran in September and were designed to help people discover 21st Century art and architecture along the strait of Dover. The complete walk was from Folkestone to Dover but we just did the Dover to Deal stretch. Although these guided walks took place in September you can do the same walk at any time and believe me, it is well worth it.
We met our guide, architect Charles Holland on the seafront and the first thing he pointed out to us was the North Downs Start/Finish line which is embedded into the pavement. He also explained that the bending seafront itself was designed by Tonkin Liu and mimics the gentle nature of the waves on the sheltered beach and the undulating line of the white cliffs of Dover. With the impressive Dover Castle looming above us we then set off up the cliff side passing Elaine Tribley’s 6 Dover totems that are made out of the same hard wearing marine steel as the ships in the harbour. These mark the path up to the white cliffs from the Eastern Docks.
At the top of the cliff is The National Trust White Cliffs Visitor Centre. This is worth a visit and was designed by Chris Widerspin. It was designed to look like it had “grown out of the existing landscape”.
We carried on walking across large stretches of land and as it was a bright sunny day the views were wonderful with France looking like you could almost reach out and touch it. We passed the Sound Mirrors at Fan Bay and the impressive South Foreland lighthouse. After about an hours walk we arrived at The Pines Calyx. This chalk structure also has a garden tea room where we had a bite to eat. (Don’t miss the opportunity to see their small, rather hilarious,museum. Especially look out for the animatronic Churchill!).
A rather strange event happened as we left The Pines Calyx. People started to panic about how long the walk was taking. It turned out that all their mobile telephones had switched to French time! I was smugly happy to inform them of the correct time from my old fashioned timepiece!
We continued down into St Margarets Bay which is a charming little bay and very uncommercialised. Note however that the climb out of the Bay is quite steep.
As we walked along, Charles pointed out a few very ordinary looking houses which had been designed by famous architects. It was interesting to see the different styles of houses that follow that coastline. It seems it is very difficult to get planning permission on the cliff tops and the latest project to get permission is a house that is going to be shaped like a banana. I can’t wait to see that one!
We passed Walmer Castle and Deal Castle and as we headed into Deal it was interesting to see all the little houses that are literally just across the road from the wild shingle beach. The walk ended at Deal Pier where the cafe at the end of the Pier is currently being refurbished (with a marine theme I believe). The pier is a typical British seaside town pier and, like Deal itself, has a very olde worlde charm about it.
The walk took about 5 hours (although we did stop a lot en route) and was approximately 10 1/2 miles.
So, on a bright sunny day I would definitely recommend this walk. You may not have a famous architect to enhance it but it is well worth the effort.