Chapter Five - Dover Castle

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 14, 2012

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What I did
Dover Castle
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, October 1, 2012

"Oh my goodness, this must be a typical autumn day. Just look and the wind and rain" laments Cecilia. "I'm glad I brought my wooly underwear!"

“Wooly underwear?”

“Just kidding. Can you still get wooly underwear?”

We take the M20 motorway through attractive hilly countryside hardly seen through the mist and drizzle. At Dover we encounter a roaring gale and just drive through this rather unprepossessing port town. It's the closest town to the European continent, just 21 miles (34 kms.), and the coast of France can be seen from the cliff tops on a clear day (certainly not today!). Our destination is Dover Castle.

If you have ever pictured an English castle, this is it. Completed in 1180 by Henry II, it is one of the mightiest fortifications in Europe.

“Are we going all the way up there?” gasps Margarita as she looks up at the towering keep. She has a painful knee condition, and climbing stairs is by no means her favourite pastime. “Where’s the elevator?”

After visiting a fascinating museum exhibit of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, We cross the quadrangle, buffeted by wind and rain, to the main building.

Between 2007 and 2009, English Heritage spent £2.45 million on recreating the castle's interior, and the furnishings now look much as they did in the 12th. century. One can only imagine how dank and dark this place was before central heating and electric lighting. On the lower floor is the vast kitchen. Upper floors contain the living and sleeping quarters.The steep stone steps are hard on Margarita, who wonders why English Heritage didn’t spend a few more pounds to install an elevator for the five-floor haul up to the roof.

After visiting the castle, we continue to the secret wartime tunnels dug under the cliffs below. There are over three miles of these tunnels going deep down into the chalky cliffs, some still unexplored and still closed to the public. We are guided through the principal passageways, which include a re-creation of the evacuation of the Allied armies from Dunkirk in May 1940, and naturally we end up in the underground gift shop and café! Here we are overwhelmed by an expert salesman and depart with a basket of artisan jams at a price totally out of our budget. Just as well he wasn’t selling time shares!

One of the planned highlights of the trip was to have walked along the White Cliffs of Dover to the South Foreland Lighthouse with spectacular views over the English Channel, but what with the adverse weather, the hike is out of the question. We still get to see some pretty impressive views of the cliffs, especially from St. Margaret’s Bay and above the ferry terminal.   

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Cesar Barroso on

Hi, Martin, sorry about the foul weather... This place for sure is worth visiting in a sunny Summer day.
Were the jams worth their price?

greekcypriot on

You should have expected this kind of weather when visiting the UK in September and October. I would have gone the beginning of June or July to avoid fog, and chilly weather. Thanks for the entry and photos Martin.

derrick241 on

Every time I have been to Dover it has rained, makes me wonder if the place ever see's any sunshine, a shame you didnt do the hike, there is a memorial to the RAF there, that is quite imposing

mavis on

Loved the photos made me feel homesick.Just caught up on your travels after 2 weeks visiting family in OZ.Whens DROXFORD coming up?

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