The White Cliffs of Dover have solidified their place in British history as a symbolic guard against ancient invaders and travelers who first came to the island nation from continental Europe millennia ago.
It was often the invaders’ first sight of England… or their last. At its tallest point, the cliff face stands a staggering 110 metres tall, and on especially clear days the white cliffs can be seen from across the channel on some parts of the north-west coast of France approximately 35 kilometres away.
The cliffs owe their dazzling appearance to the composition of chalk, which forms the major white façade, and flint, which creates the black streaks that pockmark the otherwise shining surface.
DEFENDING THE NATION
The cliffs have been used by Britain’s defenders throughout recorded history. The ancient Britons, coated in their woad war-paint, stood atop the cliffs bravely defying the encroaching Roman Empire in 43AD, and centuries later during the First and Second World Wars trenches and gun emplacements were manned by troops atop the cliffs to defend the southern coast. The remains of some trenches can still be seen today in various places along the headland, along with a concrete bunker that was used as a range-finding station.
A DYING ICON
The chalk silt that composes most of the face of the cliffs is, unfortunately, a reactive substance which means that the cliffs themselves are prone to erosion and weathering. It is estimated that about 1 centimetre of rock is weathered away from the cliffs every year, although there have been recordings of much larger pieces falling away from the edge. The latest chunk collapsed into the channel in March 2012, but also occurred earlier in 2001 when a portion “the size of a football pitch” fell away. As such, visitors are strongly encouraged to remain away from the cliff edge.
The cliffs are home to many various species of wildlife, although most prominent are the colonies of birds that nest among the rocky cliff face. Enthusiasts will note that the more common species include Fulmar and Black-Legged Kittiwake, both of which are usually seen during the colder parts of the year.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
The Warren, Wear Bay Road, Folkestone
Kent, England, CT19 6NQ
+44 (0)1303 255 093
- Address: 1 Centenary Cottages, Langdon Cliffs, Dover, Kent CT16 1HJ, UK
- GPS: 51.13199725183595,1.3379022519286536
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: CT16 1HJ
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Good (at National Trust cliff centre)
- Visibility from Road: Fair (depending on viewing point)