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.
The Dover Cliffs were very important to us, back in the day. As they were used for defence in the First World War and Second World War.
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. The whole route follows the coastal path, and covers about 10miles.
With its proximity to London, and excellent public transport links, the White Cliffs of Dover is a perfect place to visit and go for a walk as a day trip.
Read more: What to pack on a day hike
Is the Dover Cliffs walk difficult?
The walk from Dover to Deal along the coastal path, is not too challanging. There is a steep climb at the beginning, to walk up to the top of the Dover Cliffs. Then to get down to St Margaret’s at Cliffe, you go down below the cliffs and then steeply up again. The rest of the walking route between Dover and Deal is pretty flat, along gentle undulating cliffs.
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
No, you do not have to pay to walk along the White Cliffs of Dover. 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 onto the start of the trail. National Trust Members get free parking.
How to get to the White Cliffs of Dover
The White cliffs of Dover are located on the south east coast of England, in Kent, and are super easy to get to from London using public transport.
Direct trains run from London St Pancras to Dover Priory. The fast train takes just over an hour. Dover and Deal are on the same train line, so you should buy a return ticket to Deal which will cover the whole journey. Just get off 3 stops earlier to start the walk in Dover.
You can also get a direct train from London Victoria and Charing Cross to Dover Priory, however, these routes don’t go to Deal. This means you would end up having to buy two single tickets, so is more expensive.
If coming by car from London, the M20 or M2 will get you down to the south coast and Dover. You can then park in the White Cliffs of Dover National Trust car park. Post code: CT16 1HJ.
If you are not sure that you want to do the full walk from Dover to Deal, but would prefer to see the White Cliffs with more of a focus on the history, you could try this guided tour. It picks you up from London and takes you to both Canterbury and Dover, featuring Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, the Dover Cliffs and more. It’s a full day tour with a professional guide.
Logistics for the walk from the White Cliffs of Dover to Deal
- Start: Dover priory
- Finish: Deal
- Public Transport: If staying in Dover or Deal, there is a train connecting the two, with a journey time of about 17 min.
- Distance: 10ish miles linear walk.
- 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 public toilets at the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre at the start of the trail on the cliff top. 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. You might want to avoid peak times, such as school holidays, and summer weekends. However, I found that once I was past South Foreland Lighthouse, there were much less people. So it’s not too much of an issue.
- If you are coming by car, the best time would be early morning, to get a parking space.
- 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. You can find out more on the National Trust Website.
- Take a picnic. There are plenty of areas to sit with nice views, along the whole route from Dover to Deal.
- 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.
If you would like a guided tour of the White Cliffs of Dover, this small group tour will show you all around and teach you about the history. It even includes a stop by the nearest pub to France.
Map for the coastal 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 England Coast Path (west to east). It is also a section of the Saxon Shore Way (another
Now let’s get into it.
Route Description: Walk 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 (the port of Dover). 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.
Fun Fact: Dover was once the busiest passenger port in the world…not any more.
So, the walk….
If you arrived in Dover by train, 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 white chalk cliffs, before reaching the steps.
Take these steps.
Nah, just kidding. It’s a short distance to reach the top.
Walk along the White Cliffs of Dover
When you reach the cliff top, you will find the National Trust Visitor
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 public footpath. 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 walk as far as the South Foreland 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.
If you only come to the Dover White Cliffs for a day trip, then I would recommend coming to this point to having a picnic.
Walk to 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 along the cliff edge, 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 to the beach 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. (ok, yes it is accessible by car. So let’s say it’s semi-secluded).
This seemed like a good place to stop for lunch. So I did.
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, along the chalk grassland….with the occasional peak of white chalk cliffs.
I loved this section, it was so peaceful with lots of green ahead of me and to my left, then open sea to my right. I tried really hard to see the French coast. It didn’t work. On the bright side, I encountered not much people along this part.
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 between Dover and Deal 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 down at sea level, along a shingle beach and asphalt path.
You will pass the beach huts of cuteness. Then further along, 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
Way in the
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 coastal 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 is the section of coastal 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 section. But it’s close.
Deal to Sandwich – The is the section of coastal 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, if you 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 one 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 one with the most beach huts I have ever seen on any walk. Ever
Herne Bay to Margate – This one 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 path you can find that at the National Trail website.