Folkestone Warren and the White Cliffs of Dover
I am slowly working on a “White Cliffs of Dover” photo page for Summit Post. I live only 45 miles from them and have been visiting them all my life. So I reckon it’s about time I shared that lovely part of the UK coastline with everyone here. I’m now making more of an effort to get down to the Cliffs to get a decent range of images. But sometimes, as on November 1st 2009, I get a bit distracted! On that day I concentrated on the impact of a storm coming up the English Channel and passing the White Cliffs. And whilst this photo report of my walk through that storm is titled, “Storm in Folkestone Warren”, I can assure everyone it is relevant to my eventual White Cliffs of Dover page. Simply because the Cliffs start in the Folkestone area and overlook the English Channel along the few miles to Dover and then onto St Margaret’s Bay and Deal, where they end.
So my walk that day was past almost half the length of the White Cliffs. Although you won’t see much of them in this report as I was concentrating on the impact of the weather on the sea and the immediate coastal stretch right under those Cliffs.
As indicated above the town of Dover is part way along the White Cliffs, with Folkestone where my walk started around 8 miles to the West. The whole of that area is in the County of Kent which is South East of London,: Dover is circa 75 miles by road from Central London. And the coastline that passes Folkestone and Dover borders the English Channel. At that point a narrowing sea that, when it passes St Margaret’s Bay, a few miles east of Dover, leaves only a 21 mile width of open water between the UK and France. It is because of the narrowness of the Channel that Dover has developed over very many years into a busy Ferry Port.
Channel Tunnel and Samphire Hoe
A railway only tunnel connecting England and France opened in 1994 with the UK tunnel entrance close to Folkestone. Of relevance to this report is that the vast amount of spoil dug out to make that tunnel actually helped make the UK larger! Because it was mainly dumped into the sea under the White Cliffs just West of Dover. Making new land that has been turned into a small nature reserve/walking area, named Samphire Hoe. Situated right under the White Cliffs it makes an excellent destination for anyone wanting to walk from Folkestone to the East. Either along the coastline, (but not at high tide!), or along the top of the Cliffs. But best done at sea level one way, and up on the cliffs in the reverse direction.
The English Channel stretches for very many miles to the West/SouthWest, eventually merging into the Atlantic Ocean. And it is from that direction that most weather systems that pass over the UK originate. And in the English Channel, including around Folkestone and Dover quite severe storms of wind and rain can build quickly, giving dramatic sea conditions. As happened on November 1st when the first real storm of the Autumn arrived, giving some dramatic walking and photographic conditions.
Great care needs to be taken when walking that coastline in stormy weather. Never safe in storms at high tide or within a couple of hours of high tide when even in normal weather the tide is expected to be particularly high. I would very strongly advise against anyone doing that walk in such conditions unless they know that route and understands what the sea conditions can be in stormy conditions.
Images with a short commentary
My "path" started out just above the surf, which in this sheltered bay under the Cliffs was not too rough.
Looking further along the coast at my route, I felt a waterproof coat would be a good idea.
The waves were building nicely as I got onto the track that would hopefully allow me to get from Folkestone to Samphire Hoe, near to Dover.
An interesting stretch of path ahead. Think I'll watch the waves a bit first to make sure it is safe.
Those waves are setting up some hefty volumes of spray. Maybe I should have walked on top of the Cliffs!
I've walked this area for decades, so I'm sure I can get through that lot without getting too wet.
It may be a big wave, but I'm still sure I can get along the path and stay dry.
Now what was I saying about staying dry? Well at least I now have my first ever photo taken from inside a breaking wave!
I've waited all my 61 years to take a photo from inside a breaking wave. And within the space of a minute I've taken two. It's my lucky day!
I imagine it's fairly dry up on those Cliffs. That's more than I am now, and somehow I don't think I'm going to dry out yet.
An almost clear view of the White Cliffs of Dover, (above Samphire Hoe), when the breaking waves behave themselves.
A pair of black headed gulls sty dry above the raging surf as the English Channel sea pounds the sea defences between Folkestone and Samphire Hoe, (Dover).
Looking back at the route I've followed from Folkestone,(right under the Cliffs), I decide not to go back quite yet!
I think I may be in for another soaking as I head along under the White Cliffs towards Samphire Hoe, which isn't far away now.
Those waves are breaking every 7 seconds. And I'm going to take 30 seconds to splash along that section. I'm going to get wet again!
That's all that's now between me and Samphire Hoe. What the heck, I'm totally drenched already so I can't get any wetter. Best foot forward.......
The seaward edge of Samphire Hoe! And for me some dry land at last as I am NOT walking right out there.
I stopped at the kiosk on Samphire Hoe, still open despite the deserted car park there. It had looked all shut and secured when I arrived, but only against the weather. As the serving window opened I asked for a mug of hot chocolate. "Ah, only an Englishman would be out walking on a day like to day", laughed the Asian origin person manning the kiosk. "Mad dogs and Englishmen", I replied as we both enjoyed the humour of the moment.
I walked back along the Cliff tops. But heading into rain driven by winds in excess of 60 mph, and with my camera partly failed from it's repeated drenchings, I abandoned photography for the rest of my walk.