This walk takes you from the famous White Cliffs 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 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.
Is the Dover Cliffs walk difficult?
Not too much. There is a big (but short) uphill at the beginning, to walk up to the top of the Dover Cliffs. If you continue on to do the full walk from Dover to Deal, 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.
Of course, you don’t have to do the full walk like I did. You can just head up to the White Cliffs at Dover and potter about there. If you decide not to do the full route, then I would recommend at least walking as far as St Margaret’s at Cliffe. It’s much less crowded near there.
Do you have to pay to walk the White Cliffs of Dover
Not at all. Well, you do have to pay to travel to get there, or for your parking if coming by car. That’s it. There is a National Trust car park by the cliffs, which leads you right to the start of the trail.
Logistics for the walk from the White Cliffs of 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: Easy/Medium.
- Terrain: Well maintained gravel path, dirt tracks, some steps, shingle beach and asphalt.
- Amenities: Everything you might need in Dover. A restaurant/cafe and toilets at the National Trust Visitor Centre at the start of the trail on the clifftop. Public toilets, pub and car parking at St Margaret’s Beach part way through the walk. Pubs, restaurants, fish and chips at Deal.
Tips for the Dover Cliffs walk
- The White Cliffs of Dover are quite popular, so the start of the walk could be busy. That’s why (if you don’t fancy the full walk) I recommend walking towards St Margaret’s at Cliffe. I found that once I was past South Foreland lighthouse, there were much less people.
- Take sunscreen. I recommend this for all coastal walks, even if it’s an overcast day. Actually, especially if it’s an overcast day. This is when the sun will attack. I speak from painful experience.
- Hiking boots aren’t essential, you can get away with trainers for this walk.
- If you are driving, then I recommend looking into a National Trust Membership. With that, you will get free parking at the car park.
- Take a picnic. There are plenty of areas to sit with nice views.
- If you walk down to St Margaret’s Beach, there is no phone signal down there. So do what you need to do before you go down.
Map for the cliff walk from Dover to Deal
Click on the little box in the corner to view in your Google maps
More coastal walk ideas near Dover 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
Now let’s get into it.
A Guide To The Walk From the White Cliffs Of Dover To Deal
The start of the walk from 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 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.
Nah, just kidding, it’s not too far to reach the top.
Walk along the White Cliffs of Dover
When you reach the top, you will find a visitors
On a clear day you can see France from here….I couldn’t see 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 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
St Margaret’s at Cliffe – The halfway point on the walk from the Dover cliffs 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 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).
Just a note, the is no wifi signal down here.
After lunch – Continuing on the walk
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.
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
So I took this opportunity to get a photo of me 😉
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.
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.
The last stretch of the walk into Deal, I would say was the toughest. I say this because of the wind and
There was some more beach hut cuteness though.
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.
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 Dover to Deal cliff walk. Is the walk worth it? Absolutely.
More coast path walks near Dover and Deal
You can read about the best coastal walks near London for a round up of all of them. For a quick look at a few:
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, but very different as it’s 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
- Newhaven to Brighton – 10miles. A walk along the clifftop and on under cliff path.
- Hastings to Rye – 13 miles – One of my favourites.
- Seven Sisters – 13ish miles – A classic.
- Rye Harbour to Camber Castle – 10 miles – Partially on the coast path, a nature reserve, some cute boats, even cuter sheds and a castle.
- Birling Gap Friston Forest – 9ish miles – Partially on coast path. An easier way to enjoy the famous Seven Sisters.
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.
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.
oooh, that’s pretty cool….it is a long one indeed! Im so glad you like the posts Akos :). Thanks 🙂
Really enjoyed the Dover to Deal route and your style. Shame you don’t get up to the North West of England!
Awww, thanks Chris! Actually, that is in my plan soon! Well, soonish. In a few months I will be spending a lot of time up there 🙂