Home » Walk from Dover to Deal – South East Coast Path

Walk from Dover to Deal – South East Coast Path

by zoe tehrani

This walk takes you from the major ferry port town of Dover to the former fishing, mining and garrison town of Deal. I know, you are probably wondering what garrison town means…well, I was anyway. So I looked it up. It’s a town with a military base nearby. You are welcome. Anyway, when you walk from Dover to Deal, you will see the famous white cliffs of Dover, pass through the small village of Saint Margaret’s at Cliffe with its lighthouse and secluded bay. Then you leave the cliffs and finish off along the beach through the village of Kingsdown before arriving at Deal. This stretch of the South East Coast path and Saxon Shore Way covers about 10miles. 

A view of the undulating white cliffs of Dover and Dover port on the walk to deal.
The walk along the Dover cliffs

Logistics for the walk from Dover to Deal:

Start/Finish: Dover priory and Deal

How to get there: Direct trains run from London St Pancras. The fast train takes about 1h 20min. Buy a return ticket to Deal which will cover the whole journey. Just get off 3 stops earlier to start in Dover.

Distance: 10ish miles

Elevation gain: You will gain a total of about 1781 ft/543 m with the ups and downs. 

Time to complete: 4 hours 

Difficulty: Medium. There is a big (but short) uphill at the beginning. The rest of the route is pretty flat along gentle undulating cliffs, with a short down and up again at St Margaret’s at Cliffe. 

Terrain: Well maintained gravel path, dirt tracks, some steps, shingle beach and asphalt.

Map for the walk from Dover to Deal

Click on the little box in the corner to view in your Google maps

More walk ideas will be at the end

For this walk, you will be walking along a trail for the South East Coast path (west to east). It is also a section of the Saxon Shore Way (another long distance walking trail). So if you are following signage, both take you in the right direction. 

Now let’s get into it.

A guide to the walk from Dover to Deal

The start of the walk from Dover to Deal

The walk starts in Dover which has the nickname ‘the Gateway to England’. It is the closest point of England to continental Europe (France) and is home to a major ferry port. I’m going to be honest, my whole life, whenever I think of Dover, the things that come to mind are white cliffs, ferries and France. And that’s it. It wasn’t until I planned to do this walk that I looked a bit more into what Dover is about. You have Dover Castle, archaeological sights, forts…and a Banksy mural. 

I went to none of these things because I had a 10mile walk ahead of me, but it’s definitely intrigued me to come back and explore. 

So, the walk….

Arriving in Dover, just head to the coast and turn left. As you are nearing the end of the promenade you will see signs pointing you along the National Trail. This will direct you left over the road and then right along a backstreet of houses. 

For a short while you will be directly under the cliffs before reaching the steps.

Take these steps. 

Good luck. 

Nah, just kidding, it’s not too far to reach the top. 

Walk along the white cliffs of Dover clifftop

When you reach the top, you will find a visitors centre and car parks. Yes, it’s quite a popular area, but once up there you will see why. As you walk along the clifftop you will have incredible views over Dover, the ferry port, the white cliffs, and Dover castle. 

Overlooking the dover ferry port. There is a row of coaches queuing up and a ferry coming into port in the distance.
Open green overlooking the port of Dover at the start of the dover cliffs walk.There is a tree and bench on the green grass. The sky is blue.
This is the green area you can hang out in next to the visitors centre

On a clear day you can see France from here….I couldn’t see France.

Looking out to the English Channel beyond the green grass field. There is a a ferry in the distance heading towards France.
Bye bye boat. Enjoy France.

As you continue along the walk away from Dover, you will find yourself on an immaculate wide gravel path. I was here during a very hot bank holiday weekend, so it was pretty busy. Busy enough that I suspected the whole route would be like this. However, it seems most people only walked as far as the lighthouse. We will get to that later.

The England coast path leading back towards dover in the distance on a sunny day.
The very civilised coastal path.
Looking down at the white cliffs of Dover on the Dover cliff walk.
The walk along the cliff top trail in Dover

The immaculate gravel path soon turns into a narrow dirt track, as you walk along the undulating cliffs with stunning views back towards Dover….make sure you look back. (My cover photo is the view looking back)

If you only come to Dover for a day trip then I would recommend coming to this point to having a picnic. 

South Foreland Lighthouse

The next stop on the trail is South Foreland lighthouse. I’m going to be honest, when I did this walk, I did not stop here. The area was heaving, so I just walked on by. A bit further on I realised I hadn’t taken a picture to show you, it was still within my view so snapped this one quickly.

South Foreland lighthouse on a sunny day. It is half hidden behind bushes on the other side of a green field.
South Foreland Lighthouse

St Margaret’s at CliffeThe halfway point on the walk from Dover to Deal

After walking past the lighthouse it was immediately obvious how much less people there were. I guess they all stop there. Their loss.

After a little bit more greenery, the walk takes you through the small village of St Margaret’s at Cliffe. If you follow the trail signs, it will take you down to St Margaret’s Bay.

The England coast path trail with st Margaret's at Cliffe up ahead. You can see a bit of white cliffs rising from the English Channel. The sky is blue.
Here is the England coast path with St Margaret’s at Cliffe up ahead

The walk down involves some very steep and narrow steps. You should probably walk sideways down the steps, as each one is only as deep as half of your foot (unless you have small feet that is).

After the walk down, you will find yourself in a lovely secluded bay surrounded by cliffs, not quite as impressive as the Dover Cliffs, but nearly. These are like little sister cliffs. This seemed like a good place to stop for lunch. So I did.

(ok, yes it is accessible by car. So let’s say it’s semi-secluded).

A secluded bay and shingle beach surrounded by white cliffs on the England coastl path.
Bay life.

Just a note, the is no wifi signal down here.

After lunch – continuing on the walk from Dover to Deal

About halfway along the bay, you will see a sign pointing you back up the cliffs to continue the walk along the coast path. This is the last bit of uphill. 

For the next part of the walk leading towards Kingsdown, the views are less cliffy and more English countryside. 

English countryside greenery of a grassy field and bushes and trees with the walking trail running through the field.
English countryside greens
White cliff view from on top of the cliffs when walking from Dover to Deal.
A small sighting of cliff

I loved this section, it was so peaceful with lots of green ahead of me and to my left, then open ocean to my right. I encountered not much people along this part.

So I took this opportunity to get a photo of me 😉

Zoe tehrani on the England Coast path from Dover to Deal.  She is sitting on the path wearing a pink top, with green grass either side of the path and a blue sky with no clouds.
That’ll do

Probably would have been more relevant if I’d taken my photo with the white cliffs in the background, but whatever. 

Of course, of all the spots I could have chosen to set up, I picked one near to a bench where a couple were very heavily making out. Actually, I’m pretty sure they weren’t there when I stopped. They appeared a bit after. I mean, that’s ok if they want to make out there. I just found it funny that this whole section of the walk was pretty low on people yet we found ourselves together.

Kingsdown and Walmar

You will then descend off the cliffs to the coastal village of Kingsdown.

A shingle beach on the England Coast path when walking from Dover to Deal. There are a few people on the beach, the sky is blue and there is a tree bush covered cliff up ahead.
The rest of the walk from Dover to Deal will be down at sea level now.

Fun fact: In 1926, the first women to swim the English Channel made landfall at Kingsdown. Her name is Gertrude Ederle, and she was 19 at the time. 

From here on out, the rest of the Dover to Deal walk will be along a shingle beach and asphalt path.

You will pass the beach huts of cuteness. Then the walk becomes very civilised, and a section of the seafront path is lined with many memorial benches.

A beach hut on a shingle beach on the walk from Dover to Deal. The sky is bright blue with no clouds.
Beach huts on a shingle beach in Kingsdown on the walk from Dover to Deal.
The asphalt path in between houses and ocean near the end of the walk from Dover to Deal.
Memorial benches lining the path on the walk towards Deal.

The last stretch of the walk into Deal, I would say was the toughest. I say this because of the wind and loooong walk on asphalt. Ok, comparatively it’s not that long considering how far you have come. But on this day, it felt never ending. Way in the distance I could see Deal, the finish line, but it just didn’t seem to be getting any closer. The headwind was relentless, there was no way to shelter from it. It was cold. My hip was starting to hurt (I had hip surgery last year and find walking on asphalt bothers it).

There was some more beach hut cuteness though.

Beach huts on a shingle beach with a backdrop of bright blue sky near the end of the walk from Dover to Deal.

Arriving in Deal

I’d kind of signed off on the walk being complete a bit further back, and this last bit to Deal was just to get to the train station to go home. 

How wrong was I. 

As I approached the main seafront, just past Deal castle, I was greeted by a charming traditional seaside village. A buzzing English pub with a beer garden overlooking the ocean, a pier and familiar seaside smell of fish and chips.

With 45min to kill I had a little wander around.

Sunset over Deal whilst standing on Deal Pier.
Standing on Deal pier as the sun was setting.
Storefronts in Deal at sunset.
Deal quaintness

Fun fact: The Deal Pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent and is a grade II listed building.

Well, that concludes the coastal walk from Dover to Deal. Is the walk worth it? Absolutely. 

More coast path walks near Dover and Deal

Folkestone to Dover walk – The section of coast path before the Dover to Deal walk. Also nice and cliffy. If I had to pick between the two, I would probably pick the Folkestone to Dover walk. But it’s close.

Deal to Sandwich – The section of coast path after the Dover to Deal walk. This one is super flat with no cliffs. It’s a totally different vibe. If you want a simple easy walk, then this could work. If you want something hilly with great views, this is not the one.

Alternatively, you can catch a train north along the coast, in under 20min you will reach Margate, Ramsgate and Sandwich.

Margate to Ramsgate – This walk takes you along long stretches of nice sandy beach, with some nice cliffs.

Ramsgate to Sandwich – This walk involves a bit of a nature reserve and one of the most well preserved medieval towns in England.

Or, if you go slightly further north, you could try:

Faversham to Whitstable – Lots of boats and boat skeletons and the place where salt used to come from during the Iron Age.

Whitstable to Herne Bay – The walk with the most beach huts I have ever seen on any walk. Ever

Herne Bay to Margate – This walk has some Roman remains, towers dating back to the 12th century and the remains of a church from the year 669.

More walks along the South East Coast Path

Or, if you’d like more information on the whole of the South East Coast trail you can find that at the National Trail website.

Pin it for later – A guide to the cliff walk from Dover to Deal

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Akos August 21, 2021 - 5:49 pm

Hey! I really like your blog posts, very informative! I recently did the Folkestone -> Dover -> Deal hike at once (including a detour to Dover Castle). It was a long one, but I started early, I was in Folkestone at 8:30am and I didn’t feel that I have to rush. Arrived around 6pm at Deal, and I stopped a lot of times to take pictures.

zoe tehrani August 25, 2021 - 4:01 pm

oooh, that’s pretty cool….it is a long one indeed! Im so glad you like the posts Akos :). Thanks 🙂


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