Cliffs on the Strait and Narrow
As clear as the sky over these 350-foot-high cliffs, Dover is a city for the ages. Just over an hour from London by train, Dover is also famous for its narrow strait – just a 21-mile body of water within the English channel linking Britain to France. This is the route many swimmers attempt when trying to cross the famed waterway to Calais.
For those who care to stay on terra firma, there is plenty to see in Dover beyond cliffs and straits. Described as the "Key to England," the 12th century Dover Castle has seen its share of history. Tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels known at the time as "Hell Fire Corner." Situated deep beneath the cliffs, imagine what life was like to be stationed here during the worst days of World War II.
The Castle is also a great medieval fortress created by King Henry II. At its heart stands the Great Tower. Standing over 80 feet high with walls up to 21 feet thick, it's a symbol of power and authority as well as a palace designed for royal ceremonies. You'll also find the Roman Lighthouse, considered the oldest building in all of England (all things considered, this is pretty ancient.)
Coming by ship? There's really no better way to see the magnitude of the cliffs. On arrival at the port, disembark and catch the frequent shuttle bus into Dover Priory station (about a 10 minute journey). From Dover Priory there are frequent trains to both London Victoria and Charing Cross stations, and now hourly high-speed trains to St. Pancras. Choose the train to Victoria if you would like to make the 20-minute pilgrimage, with your BritRail Pass, to Canterbury, "the holy blisful martir for to seke" as Chaucer told in his tales. Here you'll find what may be the oldest school in England, "The King's School," dating back to 597 AD. No word on whether Chaucer's tricky tome is required reading.
Dover hugs the historic coast of Kent and Sussex – and while no longer of much use as a military stronghold, you'll find lovely beaches in Dover and the surrounding towns. Just 35 minutes away by train, Ramsgate is a seaside town known for its soft and clean Main Sands.
Come see the cliffs, the castle and see swimmers attempt the strait. But stop for a moment at the seaside and try to catch the wind.
Contributed by: Eric, Specialty Desk Agent, loves to frequent European events on visits with family in wonderful Kassel and Dortmund.