10 good reasons to visit Dover
Dover's position as one of the closest English towns to the continent has attracted travellers, and invaders, throughout history and it is now the world's busiest passenger ferryport
An Englishman’s home
Dover Castle is set in a spectacular position above the famous White Cliffs. Its history can be traced from an original Iron Age fortification through Roman and Saxon times to the Second World War, when the evacuation of Dunkirk was controlled from tunnels beneath it. Visitors can experience life as it was in the 12th century, explore Western Europe’s first concentric castle, the Great Tower, as well as medieval underground works, and see one of the best examples of a Roman lighthouses. Some tours are dependant on the weather and you are advised to check in advance if you are interested in a specific attraction.
On 25 July 1909, Frenchman Louis Bleriot became the first person to fly the English Channel. He was guided by smoke from a French destroyer, sighted land at St Margaret’s Bay, and subsequently made a crash landing in Northfall Meadow, behind Dover Castle, breaking the undercarriage and propeller. The whole journey had taken 20 minutes.An aircraft-sized stone memorial erected where he landed commemorates this epic flight.
The Roman Painted House in New Street is one of the finest properties from this era on show in Britain. It was built around AD 200 and is believed to have provided accommodation for travellers crossing the channel. Several of its rooms were buried when the Roman Army built a fort on the same site but were rediscovered during excavations works during the 1970s. It also led to the unique discovery of more than 400 sq ft of painted plaster, the most extensive ever found north of the Alps. The designs relate to the worship of Bacchus, the Roman God of wine and revelry.
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A 3,500-year-old boat
Dover Museum, situated in the town centre, houses one of the most important and fascinating discoveries of recent times. It is a Bronze age boat, the world's oldest known seagoing vessel, which archaeologists believe was big enough to cross the channel, carrying cargo, livestock and passengers around 3,500 years ago. Other attractions at the museum include achaeological discoveries from Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Norman times, scale models showing the development of the town and port of Dover, plus the town’s important role in both world wars. Other museums in the area include the Dover Transport Museum and The Woman’s Land Army Museum.
Back to nature
If you want some peace and quiet in tranquil surroundings, even in winter, wrap up well and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Sit and enjoy the views in Connaught Park close to Dover Castle, or take a stroll around the lake and watch the wildlife at Kearsney Abbey. There are also two nature reserves situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Western Heights in South Military Road and Whinless Down, accessed through Elms Vale Recreation Ground contain beautiful vistas, chalk downland wildflowers and wildlife
Whether you just fancy a leisurely stroll or a long ramble, you’ll find miles of marked walking trails in the White Cliffs Country above the famous cliffs and in the surrounding area. Take a clifftop walk from Dover to St Margaret’s Bay or explore the Skylark Trail, Miners Trail, Stour Valley Walk, Saxon Shore Way, and Samphire Hoe. Many have accompanying leaflets, pointing out places of interest along the way such as the South Foreland Lighthouse. These leaflets and other information on guided walks are available through the local Visitor Information Centres.
Fresh from the sea
As Dover is so close to France, it’s understandable that many of the town’s eateries have a French flavour, as fresh produce can be sourced daily from across the channel. But you will also find an eclectic mix of cuisines, plus traditional pubs and caf�s to choose from when eating out or just taking a break during a shopping trip. Cullins Yard, situated in a converted ship repair yard, is regarded as one of Dover’s top waterfront seafood restaurants due to its rustic charm and great views of the marina.
It’s behind you
DODS, the amateur dramatic society which serves the Dover community, will be carrying on the tradition and fun of a family pantomime when the group stages Little Red Riding Hood from 12-16 January at Dover Town Hall. Tickets costing �5 or �8 are available from the Dover Tourist Information Centre (01304 205 108), next to the Town Hall.
For film buffs
There will be an interesting opportunity to compare annual events and carnivals held in Dover during 1959 with the modern day versions during the town’s film festival next month. The screenings in Stone Hall Dover Town Hall on Monday 22 February and Tuesday 23 February at 3pm and 7.30pm will feature the 2009 Dover Film by Mike McFarnell and the 1959 Dover Film by Ray Warner.
Wet and dry activities
Visitors to Dover looking for more energetic pastimes have plenty to choose from. At the Leisure Centre in Townwall Street there is a whole range of sports facilities including fitness suites, two swimming pools and a sports hall. The Dover Water Sports Centre in Waterloo Crescent offers top quality training in sailing, windsurfing, keel boating, power boating and canoeing. An exciting new Sea Sport Centre on Dover seafront is also due to open this spring.
Dover Visitor Information Centre
Old Town Gaol
Kent CT16 1DL
Tel: 01304 205 108
Fax: 01304 225 409