As we mentioned in our post about Canterbury, we recently took a day trip to Kent to visit a few well-known English sites. If you haven't already read our post about Canterbury, I recommend you start there. It talks more about the process of getting to Kent and what we did for most of the day.
The White Cliffs of Dover
After visiting Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey, and grabbing a Sunday roast at a local pub, we continued our drive towards the White Cliffs of Dover. These cliffs are very famous due to their stark white color and steep faces contrasted against the coastline. The cliffs overlook the Strait of Dover, which separates England and France so, in addition to being a National Trust site, this is also where a lot of commercial and personal vehicles begin their ferry crossing into France.
The cliffs are white due to a high composition of chalk in the local stone. The white is accented by streaks of darker stone as well, which comes from black flint. Because we visited on a summer day, the bright green grassy meadows added another colorful element to the scene as well. The location of the cliffs means that you should plan for cooler air. Canterbury was quite sunny and hot but when we got to Dover, it was considerably cooler and windy. Just make sure to pack layers—and maybe a windbreaker—if you're visiting Dover as part of a multi-city day trip.
As a National Trust site, the surrounds of the White Cliffs of Dover are protected and maintained by the charity so there is a £5.00 entry fee, unless you are a National Trust member, in which case entry is included with your membership.
On the day we visited things were quite busy, but the parking attendants showed us where to park (there are several parking areas along the winding road) and we had a short hike to the cliffs themselves. There are facilities onsite including restrooms and a café as well. There's even a boot wash to help keep chalky shoes out of your car!
Spark Sees the White Cliffs
We were very pleased to discover that the White Cliffs of Dover are dog-friendly. Spark really enjoyed the cliffside hike and, although we didn't let her get too close to the edge, she had a very cute windblown look for most of the day.
Due to Dover's proximity to mainland Europe and its ferry port, you'll see cars with license plates from all over Europe. Spark encountered canines from all over the continent who were also enjoying the cliffs. The entire site was dog-friendly so there's no reason to leave your four-legged friend at home when you visit the cliffs!
After exploring the White Cliffs of Dover, we got back in our Zipcar and drove less than ten minutes up the road to Dover Castle.
Earlier in the day, while visiting St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury, we had purchased an annual membership to English Heritage. Similar to National Trust, this is another charity that maintains and preserves various properties and natural areas throughout England. Because we were now members, entry to Dover Castle was free.
A few things about Dover Castle. Firstly, it was founded in the 11th century so, even for England, it's super old. It's also huge—it's actually the largest castle in England. The castle has played a really important role in protecting England throughout its history due to its location on the country's coastline.
The grounds and castle are really impressive, both in their size and their very scenic surroundings. We arrived in the late afternoon, not too long before closing time. We weren't super fussed about seeing every last aspect of the castle so it was no problem for us that some areas are not dog-friendly. We still got to tour the entire grounds and peek inside several interior areas. The staff was extremely friendly and knowledgable and were very happy to see our pup. They kindly informed us where we could and couldn't go with her.
The grounds of Dover Castle include some really remarkable sites including an ancient Roman lighthouse dating to AD 43. David loves lighthouses and this is the oldest one we've ever seen. There are also Cold War bunkers onsite. These bunkers have since been repurposed into an immersive escape room experience. We didn't partake in this, but it would certainly provide a very authentic backdrop for an escape room experience. The castle hosts many other events throughout the year too—jousts, falconry lessons, murder mystery parties, and more. I think it would be really cool to return to Dover Castle in the future for one of these cultural events but I'm glad Spark got to join us in our tour.
With its beautiful natural features and important historic status, this seaside city is the perfect destination for a dog-friendly day trip from London!