South Foreland Lighthouse
Created to warn Goodwin Sands boaters as he guides them through the Straits of Dover, it is also famous as the world’s first lighthouse to display an electric light. The views of the English Channel are wonderful, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to France. Inside, interpretive displays show the work required to keep the lighthouse running, including maintaining the unique mechanism that made the lighthouse flicker (there is also an excellent tea room on site).
Dover Western Heights and the Grand Shaft
Started in 1779, when fear of French invasion was high throughout England, Dover’s Western Heights grew into one of the largest fortification networks in the nation. Comprised of numerous trenches and forts that run along the shoreline from Dover Castle, it features a number of important strong points that can still be seen today, including the Drop Redoubt and the Citadel , as well as the moats. Dries that joined them (guided tours of the redoubt are available). Consisting of a unique 140 foot triple stairway Grand Shaft is literally cut into the cliffs, this incredible structure served as a shortcut for troops stationed in the Western Heights to the city, should they be required to defend the latter. ( Good tip : If possible, try to schedule your visit for the third Sunday of each month, April through November, when the well is open to the public.)
A memorial to French aviator Louis Blériot, the first person to cross the English Channel in 1909 in an airplane “heavier than air” (more than 100 years after a hot air balloon made the trip), stands in Northfall Meadow, a small woodland northeast of Dover Castle. The granite monument itself is quite unique in that it was built in the shape of Blériot’s plane, which can still be seen in Paris at the Museé des Arts Métiers. A commemorative sister marker has been erected in Calais, where the pilot’s adventure began.
In St. Margaret’s Bay, just four miles from Dover, these six-acre sustainable gardens include a beautiful waterfall and adjoining lake; a labyrinth of grass; an organic garden, with more than 40 different species of organic fruits and vegetables; and, of course, a tea room.
Right across from the main entrance to Pines Garden is the Santa Margarita Museum with a good selection of WWII artifacts. Of particular interest is Hellfire Corner. Named after the brutal air battles that took place over this section of the Kent coast during the Battle of Britain, this excellent display includes period costumes, artifacts, and a bomb shelter.
Built for Henry VIII in 1540, Deal Castle (just 11 miles north of Dover) is widely regarded as one of the finest Tudor castles in England. It is also among the oldest and most elaborate in a chain of coastal forts that stretches the length of the English Channel. Visitors can explore the entire castle, both a manor house and a fortress, and then stroll through the pleasant gardens and gardens. Be sure to spend time wandering the quaint medieval town of Accord, one of the famous defense and trade towns that make up the Confederacy of Cinque Ports (the town also has great walking and biking trails).
This English Heritage site, just 15 miles north of Dover near Ramsgate, marks the place not only where Roman rule in the British Isles began, but also where it ended. The impressive Roman city ruin at Richborough was where the Romans launched their successful invasion of Britain in AD 43 and also where they departed centuries later after it was no longer sustainable to rule the British. The extensive remains of defensive walls and ditches are well worth exploring, and a fun boat trip (weather permitting) is available that traces the route taken by the Romans when they arrived.