Dover, Kent May 2016

by Emma Bumpus on June 9, 2016

May bank holiday weekend salutes summer when careertraveller and family take to the White Cliffs Country of Dover, Deal and Sandwich to sample Kent’s renowned Garden of England.

Blue skies, shimmering coastline and layers of history are unveiled as we ascend Dover Castle, a 12th century fortress whose medieval stature evokes power, strength and drama across the centuries.

Original Napoleonic Secret Wartime Tunnels carved out of cliff-top chalk are a poignant exposure of Operation Dynamo and Britain’s rescue of allied troops from Dunkirk in 1940. Special visual and sound effects take us on an expressive journey of military defence and courage through a labyrinth of passageways that reveal an Underground Hospital. A real tribute to serving the troops during the Second World War.

Amidst the WWII weekend event of German firepower display, bebop jazz singers and RAF Spitfire aerobatics we are transported back to the 1940s where wartime rations, explosive battle and vintage lipstick and curls entertain and educate the whole family. Amongst Caen Normandy stone and Kentish ragstone walls we retrace Henry II’s world from his elaborate Kings Chamber to imposing Great Tower, whose generous East and West views encapsulate panoramic views of pure English coast and countryside. Spectacular!

Coastal wanderlust takes us on a trail of Walmer Beach Kite flying to the picturesque seaside town of Deal whose ‘Tudor Rose’ Deal Castle, unspoilt beaches and 1000ft long pier radiate summer, maritime adventure and English heritage. Pretty seafront cafes overlook pristine shingle beaches peppered with traditional fishing boats are nautical eye candy and an excuse to explore an array of quaint teashops!

Back on the road we discover rural villages with chocolate box cottages bursting with kaleidoscopic country gardens and verdant crops blooming with fresh local produce, not forgetting home to orchards and hop gardens! As we drive into Worth, a quaint hamlet with it’s charming village pond and Norman church we find paradise in the form of the Blue Pigeons Hotel, whose slate grey coloured exterior radiates a boutique contemporary feel that does not disappoint.

Inside is a stylishly renovated vicarage dating back to the 19th century, which with beams, slate fireplace and original wooden floors is tastefully offset by antique chic shabby furnishings that convey light and space up to our heavenly Room 1. Airy and sumptuous we enter a suite of calm luxury with four-poster bed whose crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets lovingly contrast soothing pale green cushions designed to relax amidst the countryside breeze that gently sways the high ceilinged snow-white cotton drapes. Elegantly modern with luxurious fabrics, separate seating area and twist of mod cons including 50-inch flat screen TV, we indulge this harmonious bridal suite come family room, whose subtle treats come in the form of nautical tissues and distinctive Duck Island bathroom pleasures.

Dinner in the Brasserie is a must with authentic red brick walls, pendant lighting and informally elegant tables, which delicately ornamented with purple irises, the symbol of love, and gypsophila make this a fine-looking venue for celebrations, weddings and all things special. A menu of fine local produce arrives in the form of pan-fried salmon fillet, which on a fertile mass of crushed potatoes, peas and salsa verde sets the careertraveller sail to Dover’s legendary White Cliffs, the symbol of Kent’s channel port with busiest shipping lane in the world!

Strolling the dramatic National Trust cliff top walk is a prairie – like trail of panoramic wildlife that presents itself in the grassland form of Exmoor ponies and butterflies to sky high peregrine falcons and seabird kittiwakes who breed amidst the chalky rare limestone cliffs. Rolling green hilltops sprayed with sunshine yellow flowers from wild cabbage and buttercup looking horseshoe vetch is a paradise of flora that wildly contrasts Dover’s dramatic past of invasion from the Romans to return of the British troops from Dunkirk.

Looking down from the cliffs awaits a treasure chest of English heritage that spans from the bronze age and Saxons to WWI and WWII to present at Dover Museum, which founded in 1836 is one of Kent’s oldest museums.

In the heart of Dover town stands this clever little haven of archaeological and historical facts and relics that include the 19th century avant-garde and exotic Cabinets of Wonder African Lion Head to giant Polar Bear. Brought back by intrepid explorer Dr Reginald Koettlitz in the 1894-7 Jackson-Harmsworth Artic expedition we discover the Victorian period of the exotic, educational and curious to internationally acclaimed Bronze Age Boat, the world’s oldest known seagoing boat! Inside the Bronze Age Boat Gallery lays a prehistoric boat, which allegedly over 3000 years old was found by construction workers nearby in 1992.

Feeling hungry and inspired we venture down to the De Bradelei Wharf for some maritime shopping and discover Cullins Yard, a quirky shipyard turned restaurant for some good old fashioned fish ‘n’ chips, the type that comes with mushy peas and a good locally brewed ale next door! Whilst inside is a tardis of nautical artefacts, outside is a handsome marina of alfresco leisure boasting nearby harbour and impressive promenade between clean shingle beaches and WWII memorials

As the evening sunset captures the Disney cruise ship departing for European shores we return home, but not without a breeze through Sandwich whose stunning Secret Gardens and encompassing medieval buildings mark Dover an intoxicating neighbourhood of sensational coast and country gems.

A farewell drink on the never-ending lawn at the Blue Pigeons Hotel is an evergreen finale to one of many future trips to Kent.

Further information:
Dover Tourist Board (official)
The Blue Pigeons
English Heritage Dover Castle
National Trust White Cliffs of Dover

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: