White Cliffs Country offers a world of discovery – and the warmest of welcomes. This iconic area of England, incorporating Dover, Deal and Sandwich, is well known for its unique history and heritage. But it’s also home to some of the country’s most spectacular scenery which makes it the ideal destination for nature lovers and fans of the great outdoors.
Did you know that almost a quarter of White Cliffs Country is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? It also plays host to a huge range of outdoor pursuits that are suitable for all ages and abilities. Walking, cycling, hiking, swimming and sailing are just some of the activities you can try. Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur or an accomplished expert, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Alfresco activities in Dover
If you think you know all there is to know about Dover, think again! There’s much more to explore than the famous chalk coastline although a walk along our striking clifftops must not be missed. Known as the Gateway to England, Dover has been an important UK port since Roman times. So you'll find there’s no shortage of history to explore. But make no mistake, Dover’s future is just as important as its past. Change and regeneration are at the forefront of the town’s “Dover Vision” project. This includes a collection of carefully thought-out bold and ambitious plans and aspirations for the area.
But where alfresco action and adventure are concerned, visitors to Dover are already spoilt for choice. As you’d expect from the home of cross-Channel swimming, water sports are a popular part of Dover’s outdoor pursuits offering. If you’ve always wanted to try some open water/wild swimming, head to Shakespeare Beach. This cliff is even referenced in King Lear! If sea sports are more your thing, sailing, kayaking and paddle-boarding are just some of the aquatic activities on offer at Dover Sea Sports Centre. You'll discover there's also a range of guided Sea Safaris available. These are perfect for exploring this famous coast, while staying firmly on top of the water.
If you prefer your outdoor pursuits to take place on dry land, Dover won’t disappoint. There are miles of coastal and countryside cycling and walking trails to explore. In fact, there are plenty of local walking groups and societies too, which welcome non-members. Dover enjoys Walkers are Welcome status, and lots of areas are dog-friendly too. There are short routes and circular trails for casual walkers, and longer routes for experienced ramblers. You can even combine exercise and education with the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘The Key to the Kingdom’ Dover walk. MP3 audio, PDF booklets and App downloads are available, too.
Outdoor pursuits in Deal
While you’re visiting White Cliffs Country, be sure to make time for a trip to Deal. One of the prettiest seaside towns in Kent, its pebble beach overlooks the Channel, and is home to the distinctive Deal Pier. Don't forget to take a stroll around the picturesque town centre and its retro pastel-coloured houses – a paradise for Instagrammers!
An award-winning accolade
Deal has long been regarded as one of the prettiest towns in Kent and was voted the best UK seaside resort (out of 91 candidates) in 2020, according to a report carried out by eco brand ‘The Solar Centre’. The town also managed to attract top chef Nuno Mendes (formerly of famous London celebrity hotspot Chiltern Firehouse) who collaborates with chefs at boutique hotel The Rose.
Keen cyclists will find plenty to enjoy in this area. White Cliffs Country features lots of coastal tracks, quiet country lanes and designated cycle paths. Bring your own bike if you like, or hire from one of the local cycle shops – Deal has several. Whether you’re a novice cyclist, an elite racer, or simply looking for a gentle family ride, don’t leave Deal without visiting Betteshanger Park. It offers more than 10km of rugged mountain bike trails, all designed with varying difficulty and for different abilities. Blue trails are the easiest – perfect for beginners; choose red if you have more off-road experience. There is also a smooth 3-km tarmac track, complete with a designated fast lane for speedsters, for traffic-free cycling, so it’s ideal if you’re after a safe place for children to ride.
Cycling is also, of course, an ideal way to sightsee. A pleasant beachfront cycle path links Deal and Walmer Castles. The latter includes eight acres of award-winning gardens, plus a tea room and café –perfect for some post-ride refuelling!
Explore the great outdoors at Sandwich
Sandwich has much more to offer than just its namesake snack. One of the best-preserved medieval towns in Britain, it’s also regarded as the golfing capital of Kent and home to Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust. In addition to bird-watching, there are guided walks, wildlife courses, talks and classes to enjoy. Sandwich is the ideal White Cliffs Country destination if you prefer your outdoor pursuits to be more genteel than highly energetic.
Did you know that Sandwich has two Championship courses? Prince’s Golf Club offers links golf within an absolutely idyllic coasting setting. The Royal St George’s Golf Club – consistently ranked among the world’s leading golf courses – was actually the first to host The Open outside Scotland and hosted the 149th Open in 2021. Other options in the area include the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club and the Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club. Known as the Club on the Cliffs, it’s located on top of Dover’s famous chalk landmark. The closest course to Europe, its location allows you to enjoy gorgeous views across the Channel while working on your swing.
Whatever you enjoy doing outdoors, the chances are you can do it in White Cliffs Country. If you enjoy being active, there’s a huge range of energetic outdoor pursuits to choose from. Why not experiment and try something new? If you prefer gentler pursuits, there are parks and gardens galore to explore. Come and visit us soon!