Leaf peeping, pumpkin picking, seasonal strolls and cycle rides - and wrapping up a wonderful day with delicious food and drink and a warm welcome at one of our fabulous hostelries across Deal, Dover, Sandwich and beyond; taking in the splendid colours of the season whilst exploring our idyllic countryside, world-famous coastline, characterful towns and historic villages - Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year in White Cliffs Country!
Are you familiar with what leaf peeping is? To go Leaf Peeping means to visit a place that is full of Autumn colours, particularly woodland and wooded areas, to view the changing colors of the foliage with leaves that look stunning as they change from green to golden, ruby red to purple and russet brown. Soak up the sensory indulgence of the season with tranquil days, morning haze and low afternoon sun. Plus of course, make sure to capture those all-important snaps and Instagram highlights, of course.
There are dozens of amazing places to go leaf peeping in Deal, Dover and Sandwich and the idyllic leafy countryside of White Cliffs Country!
Head to Kearsney Parks near Dover to see the beautiful colours in the trees – the park has a fabulous new children’s play area with wooden sculptures, slides and climbing activities, and newly-reopened bright, airy café selling delicious treats including ice cream for dogs! Enjoy the splendid colours in the grounds – which include evergreens as well as colour-changing trees – and snap away to your heart’s content. Dogs will love it here too – as well as doggy ice cream treats in the cafe, there are dedicated spaces for off-lead exploration as well as on-lead walks, on either side of picturesque ornamental lakes.
While you're in the area you can visit the world-famous White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle as well! There are plenty of options for accommodation nearby, too - for example the Holiday Inn Dover - which offers a family room sleeping 2 adults and 2 children from £122 per night for October (with current availability*). Visit our accommodation webpage for more options, inspiration and great ideas for where to stay in Deal, Dover and Sandwich.
Walmer Castle in Autumn (© Paul Wells)
The fabulous stately home and Tudor fortress of Walmer Castle, perched right on the coastline near Deal, has gorgeous gardens to visit all year round, with the colours of autumn throwing a greeny, goldeny hue on the trees and foliage at this time of year. A former residence of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in her role as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Walmer Castle was also once home to the First Duke of Wellington (who held the post in the early 19th century) and houses a pair of original “Wellington” boots! Visit the stunning gardens, which include the Queen Mother’s 95th birthday garden, and bask in the majesty of autumn.
Looking for somewhere to stay near Walmer Castle? Options for where to stay in nearby Deal include the Clarendon Hotel with double/twin rooms from £110 per night in October (with current availability*). There are lots of options for accommodation in Walmer and Deal, as well as Dover, Sandwich and beyond - from self-catering cottages where pets are welcome, to traditional guest houses and more! While you're in the Deal area in White Cliffs Country you could also visit famous Deal Pier, go for a paddle on the beach and enjoy a Knickerbocker Glory at the retro 1950s-styled beach parlour! Or enjoy a warming hot chocolate and fish and chips?
Autumn colours at Kearsney Abbey, Dover (©DDC)
Goodnestone Park Gardens near Sandwich is a stunning place to visit – full of autumn colours in the beautiful woodland area and Golden Arboretum, planted in 2001 to celebrate the Golden Wedding of Lord and Lady Fitzwater. The Old Dairy Café has delicious lunches to enjoy made from local produce, together with mouthwatering cakes for an extra treat. This was a favourite place of Jane Austen’s to visit - walk in the famous author’s footsteps and follow the reinstated 18th century Serpentine Walk. One of only three gardens in Kent to be awarded the coveted two stars in the Good Garden Guide, the garden has a formal area around the House, with a small box parterre, planted to celebrate the millennium, with a gravel garden planted in 2003 leading to the woodland area and arboretum. Come and visit the formal gardens and imagine Jane delighting in the splendour of the autumn colours!
While you’re in the area don’t miss Wingham Wildlife Park, home of the UK’s only moon bears and Kent's largest animatronic dinosaur park - for a brilliant family day out. Accommodation options include The Five Bells at Eastry, for example - a country pub with family room sleeping up to 5 people, with a price per night for 2 adults and 2 kids of £165, including full English or Continental breakfast. There are plenty of accommodation options in Sandwich, Deal and Dover to choose from - check out our webpage dedicated to places to stay in White Cliffs Country and start planning your visit!
Jane Austen loved to visit Goodnestone Park near Sandwich (©DDC)
You don’t have to travel to a specific place to enjoy autumn colours in White Cliffs Country, however – with 22% of the destination dedicated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Kent Downs, you’ll find idyllic countryside to enjoy both on foot and on two wheels. Experience the best of autumn and to get back to nature, leaving the car behind and exploring many trails and footpaths whilst taking in not just the sights, but all of the sensory delights of coast and countryside - like woodfires mingled with the heady scent of dew on meadow. Explore the North Downs Way National Trail and England Coast Path National Trail, which wind through stunning villages along the coast and throughout the countryside. You’ll find a new art trail is being developed for the Via Francigena – the Road from France – an ancient pilgrims’ route extending from Canterbury Cathedral all the way to Rome, which weaves along the North Downs Way in White Cliffs Country.
For a wonderful adventure that gets you even closer to nature, why not do something different and enjoy a fabulous glamping adventure in the countryside this autumn? Imagine wrapping up for stargazing and toasting marshmallows in a firepit! Accommodation options include Greenhill Glamping in the Alkham Valley, a 2 night stay for 2 people in “Ploughman’s Retreat”, a luxuriously restored wagon once used by ploughmen travelling from farm to farm, is £290 for midweek in mid-October (with current availability*). But that's just an idea - make sure you check out our accommodation webpages for plenty of ideas for where to stay across Deal, Dover and Sandwich – the above ideas are just a taster of what we have on offer here in White Cliffs Country!
Whether it's for a seasonal decoration or a seasonal veggie soup, pumpkin picking in White Cliffs Country makes for a great family activity this Autumn! Visit Felderland Farm near Sandwich and enjoy choosing your own perfect pumpkin from their plentiful supply. This year the farm is proud to announce a pumpkin picking extravaganza, from October 9th-10th and October 15th-31st - with a plethora of vegetables, a straw bale obstacle course, family photo opportunities and selfies, coffee shop, hot food and more!
Why not head to Sandwich afterwards and enjoy taking in the beauty of this perfectly preserved medieval town? Plenty of places to relax and enjoy lunch or supper! Wander along the quayside and enjoy an autumn stroll through perfect parkland, or out towards the sea through Sandwich Marina. Cruise along the River Stour to look for seals, or catch a movie at the retro Empire Cinema, an original 1930s' Art Deco cinema from the golden age of Hollywood.
Seasonal Strolls and Cycle Rides… around Bond country!
White Cliffs Country is full of incredible walking and cycling routes - but with movie lovers all over the world revelling in the excitement of the new James Bond movie “No Time To Die”, now seems like the perfect time to take in Ian Fleming’s White Cliffs Country! Did you know, the creator of Britain's most famous fictional spy once had his home at St Margaret’s Bay? Follow the 007 trail while you’re here – for a guided tour, contact England Plus Tours and enquire about 'In Search of the Real James Bond'.
NEW: Check out our suggested James Bond itinerary with new Story Map Trail and discover how you can take a 007-themed self-guided tour around the favourite haunts of Bond’s creator and former White Cliffs Country resident, Ian Fleming!
Bond and Beyond
Visit St Margaret’s Bay, stunning in Autumn and at all times of the year, and find out why 007’s creator chose to make this secluded hidden gem his home. You can take refreshment at The Coastguard, Britain’s closest pub to France, and imagine the view Fleming must have had whilst penning some of his most famous literary works. Or stroll around the Pines Garden and enjoy leaves crunching underfoot before stopping for delicious cake or savoury treats from the Pines Garden Tea Room.
Head up the coast on foot to Kingsdown, assumed to be the location where the Moonraker rocket is to be launched from. A clifftop path offers stunning views and with a pub at either end of the footpath, what more encouragement do you need to indulge in this scenic coastal hike?
Further afield in Sandwich you’ll find Royal St George's Golf Club, proud host of The 149th Open in July 2021, and of which Ian Fleming was famously a member!
Half Term, Halloween and More!
With the nights drawing in, if you’re already thinking about how to celebrate Halloween and the spooky season in Deal, Dover and Sandwich, White Cliffs Country won't disappoint you! Dover Castle is well known as England's most haunted castle, if you want to hunt down some of its spectres - and it even has a brand new "Wizards of Once" adventure quest trail for youngsters to enjoy, which runs all throughout half term week and Halloween. At Walmer Castle near Deal, there are spooky woodland walks for family Halloween fun and at Deal Castle you're guaranteed some serious spine-tingling chills with their Ghost Tours for adults, too!
For more grown-up ghost spotting adventures in White Cliffs Country, around Dover, Deal, Sandwich and beyond, make sure to read our blog about the spooky stories of White Cliffs Country and hunt down the eerie myths and legends of this historic destination. Take yourself on a self-guided tour - if you dare - and investigate the many ghost stories of Deal, Dover and Sandwich and beyond, to get your heart racing!
NEW: Read about the Spooky Stories of White Cliffs Country and follow the Spooky Story Trail around Deal, Dover, Sandwich and beyond, using our Story Map to help plan your route!
You'll find lots of ideas for how to keep the kids happy in half term week on our Things To Do page, which features inspiration for great days out at our many parks, leisure centres, museums and attractions in White Cliffs Country. Make sure to look at our What's On webpage as well, for all the latest events taking place in Deal, Dover, Sandwich and beyond. At Betteshanger Park near Deal, for example, kids (and adults!) can enjoy a spooky Halloween trail around Betteshanger Woods and brave the scare maze, as well as a spooky twist on the usual fun activities like geocaching, orienteering, forest school and more!
*Prices correct at time of publication