With rising costs and the current uncertainty of overseas travel, you may be staying closer to home this summer, but you can still enjoy plenty of summer fun. White Cliffs Country, just over an hour by high-speed train from London on the south-east coast, is the perfect day trip destination or an easy place to travel to for a longer stay. Taking time out to relax and have fun with the children here needn’t cost a fortune – we have 10 suggestions for memorable days out, longer stays and activities that won’t put a strain on your budget.
ONE Wake with birdsong and fall asleep under the stars, find the perfect stick to toast marshmallows and make s’mores! There’s no better way to make great memories and experience the fresh air and special outdoor places here than to bring camping gear and pitch a tent at one of our fantastically located campsites. Go back to nature and camp in farmers’ fields or take the luxury option and try glamping instead – we have campsites in the countryside and campsites overlooking the sea. And if sleeping under canvas isn’t your thing, there are holiday parks with static caravans for hire.
Cost = campsite charges vary
Beach days © teandbiscuits_x
TWO With so much to do at brilliant Betteshanger Park, it is worthy of at least a day trip. Over 5 kilometres of paths through this lovely 250-acre, dog-friendly country park give you space to unwind and explore. There’s an adventure play park, complete with a zip line and maze, and cycling tracks on smooth tarmac or off-road mountain-bike trails. The park is home to Kent Mining Museum which tells the story of mining in the UK with entertaining and immersive exhibitions – fascinating for all the family – and for your little explorers, try geocaching and follow themed routes to find cleverly hidden Geocaches. For the dinosaur fans among you, there’s the new Dino Expedition!
Cost = £3.50 for all-day parking (charges apply for some activities)
THREE Have a beach day, or several if we're lucky with the weather! Our beautiful beaches are safe for swimming (but please check the tides and respect the sea) and there are plenty to choose from: secluded Shakespeare Beach is to the west of Dover Harbour, Dover Beach in the harbour, beautiful St Margaret’s Bay, family-friendly Kingsdown Beach, the long shingle stretch of Walmer and Deal beaches, and Sandwich Bay next to world-famous golf courses and accessible via a private estate. For a change of scene, take a stroll out to sea on the local landmark of Deal Pier where you can watch anglers as they fish, buy a drink from the Deal Pier Kitchen at the end of the pier and try to spot seals. Walk to the end of Dover Marina Pier for fabulous views of the iconic White Cliffs, Dover seafront and Dover Castle and stop on The Marina Curve for an ice cream. Both piers are accessible for all.
Cost = parking charges may apply
Fabulous views from Dover Marina Pier of the White Cliffs and Dover Castle.
FOUR Dust off your bike helmets and cycle along one of the many fantastic routes in the district – the well-signed National Cycle Network Route 1 takes you past three castles and a Roman fort! Cycle a short section of the route according to your ability: the flat, gentle route along Deal and Walmer seafronts, the slightly more off-road route from Deal to Sandwich or the more demanding long steep climb from Dover up to the White Cliffs. There are many other perfect places to explore on two wheels in White Cliffs Country and a 3-km stretch of traffic-free, safe cycling at Betteshanger Park is perfect for younger children. You’ll find all our fantastic cycle routes in our Walking and Cycling leaflet. Bring your own bikes or hire them from one of the many local cycle-hire locations in the area.
Cost = free, if using your own bikes, or cost of bike hire
Fred, the Little Farthingloe Farm donkey © DDC
FIVE Wander through ancient woodland, meet Fred the donkey and Shetland ponies Dudley and Oscar, have fun in the natural play area and check out the Women’s Land Army Museum. Little Farthingloe Farm, just outside Dover, is a special place to spend a few hours. There’s even free cider tasting in the cider shop for the grown-ups, a farm shop, bakery, restaurant and café. And in Ripple, near Deal, you can visit Solley’s farm and sample their super-duper ice cream where it’s made! Explore marked trails before visiting the ice-cream parlour to create your own sundae from a choice of over 15 flavours. The farm sells other refreshments, too, and dogs are welcome.
Cost = whatever you choose to spend
SIX Pack up a picnic and head to one of the wonderful dog-friendly parks in the district. Just 2.5 miles outside Dover, beautiful Kearsney Parks (awarded The Green Flag) covers Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens and has it all – beautifully landscaped gardens to spread out in, majestic mature trees to lie under, ornamental lakes, a chalk stream and a fantastic new play park and café. Along the coast, The Butts in Sandwich follow the old town walls – popular with local people and visitors for picnics and walks, this is a lovely place to stroll, sit and watch the cricket (when playing) or the world go by and admire the lovely old town.
Cost = parking charges may apply
Please help to keep White Cliffs Country clean: dispose of any rubbish responsibly, either using the public bins provided or taking it home with you to recycle. Thank you.
SEVEN All aboard the East Kent Railway for a trip back in time. What used to be a busy industrial line serving Kent coalfields is now a scenic railway that takes you on a 4-mile round trip between the pretty villages of Shepherdswell and Eythorne, through rolling countryside and the fascinating Golgotha Tunnel. Run entirely by volunteers, the trains mostly run only on Sundays and bank holidays, but the café, grounds and woodland walks are open Tuesday to Sunday. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date information.
Cost = a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is £20.
EIGHT Visit the special wildlife haven at Samphire Hoe and immerse yourselves in the beauty of this rare chalkland nature reserve at the base of the world-famous White Cliffs. This tranquil place never fails to lift the spirits and you may spot birds of prey, rare butterflies and wildflowers. A Big Summer Festival is planned from 23 July to 7 August with activities such as bug hunts, nature walks, foraging and fossil hunts. Other nature hotspots Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and Monks Wall Nature Reserve are also great places to visit.
Cost = free entry; parking charges apply
NINE Join the Wheels of Time time-travelling character Roamin’ Rex as he discovers the fantastic museums and heritage sites in the district and collect badges along the way. Young explorers aged 5-11 can visit any of the listed sites and pick up a unique bespoke badge. Collect 10 site badges to receive a bronze award, a lanyard to put all their badges on, and a certificate. Choose from Sandwich Guildhall Museum, Deal Museum, Kent Museum of the Moving Image, The Timeball Tower in Deal, East Kent Railway, Dover Transport Museum, Crabble Corn Mill and Dover Museum (where you can also see the oldest known seafaring boat in the world!).
Cost = free entry to all museums except:
Kent Museum of the Moving Image (adults £6, concessions £5, 8-16s £4, family £15)
Timeball Tower Museum (adults £3, children £2, under 5s free)
Dover Transport Museum (adults £10.50, 5-16s £5.50, family £23; tickets valid for 12 months)
Crabble Corn Mill (for self-guided tours: adults £4.50, concessions and children £3, under 5s free, family £11)
TEN It wouldn't be summer without a festival or two and here in White Cliffs Country we have a lot going on over the school summer holidays! Deal Carnival and Regatta from 23-30 July, includes a teddy bears picnic, an amazing AeroSuperBatic Wingwalkers display and a free family carnival party; Dover Regatta on 6th August and Dover Pride on 27th August are vibrant, fun events with live music and entertainment for all the family; and Sandwich Festival from 27-29 July includes a duck race, Italian market, medieval experiences and picnic concert. For more information and to find out what else is happening in White Cliffs Country over the summer, please see What's On.
Whatever you get up to over the summer, we hope you have a wonderful time. Don't forget to follow us on social media and tag us @visitdover in any photos if you are happy for us to share them and use #whitecliffscountry