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

Walking 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 walking 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. 

Logistics for walking 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: 1781 ft. 

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 walking from Dover to Deal

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

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.

Walking from Dover to Deal

Dover

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 its 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. 

The white cliffs of Dover clifftop

At 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. 

With 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 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 view ahead of the Dover cliff walk. This section became crazy busy,

So, the immaculate gravel path soon turns into a narrow dirt track taking you along the undulating cliffs with stunning views back towards Dover….make sure you look back.

A view of the undulating white cliffs of Dover and Dover port when walking from dover to deal.
The white cliffs of Dover.

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

Saint Margaret’s at Cliffe

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 Saint 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 trail 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).

You will find yourself in a lovely secluded bay surrounded by cliffs (ok, yes it is accessible by car. So let’s say its semi-secluded). This is where I stopped for lunch. 

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 there.

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 along the South East coastal path. This is the last bit of uphill. 

This 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.

At this point, I realised I hadn’t taken my photo yet. Yes, it’s for Instagram. Feel free to eye roll. But ya know, it’s how I promote my blog….No shame. Why does the photo have to have me in it? Well, if you look at my Instagram you will see, lol.

Plus I’d been lugging around my tripod all day, so I was damn well going to use it. 

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. Lol.

When I say they were heavily making out, I’m pretty sure they were on their way to….you know.

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 on this part of the England Coast Path 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, in case you were wondering. 

From here on out the rest of the walk along the South East Coastal path will be along a shingle beach and asphalt path till you reach Deal.

You will pass the beach huts of cuteness.

A beach hut on a shingle beach when walking from Dover to Deal. The sky is bright blue with no clouds.
A beach hut.
Beach huts on a shingle beach in Kingsdown along the England Coast Path.

Then the walk becomes very civilised…

The asphalt path in between houses and ocean when walking from Dover to Deal.
The civilised part of the coastal walk.

Then the seafront path from Walmar to Deal is lined with many memorial benches.

Memorial benches lining the path when walking towards Deal.
The memorial benches leading to Deal.

The last stretch of the walk reaching 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 when walking 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……the smell of fish and chips. That’s a good smell, in case you were wondering.

Sunset over Deal whilst standing on Deal Pier.
As the sun was setting in Deal.

With 45min to kill I discovered the quaint streets, traditional fish and chips shops and had a walk along the Deal Pier.

Storefronts in Deal at sunset.
Deal quaintness.
Looking along Deal Pier with the sea on either side and a blue sky. There are a few people walking on the pier.
Walking along Deal Pier.
An ocean and beach view from the Deal Pier at sunset.
The view from Deal Pier at sunset.

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 walking from Dover to Deal worth it? Absolutely. 

More from the England South East Coast Path

If you’d like to check out another walk along the South East Coast path, then you have the section next to this one, Folkestone to Dover. Or you can catch a train heading to North Kent in just 18min from Deal to walk from Margate to Ramsgate, Ramsgate to Sandwich, or slightly further North for Faversham to Whitstable, and Whitsable to Herne Bay. Alternatively, you have:

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 walking from Dover to Deal

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2 comments

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.

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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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