4 July 2010 (Sunday) - Folkestone to Dover

The drunks were later with their shouting this morning: they started saying goodbye to their friends at 5.15am. I need to identify exactly which house they live in. I’ve found that when people have done this in the past, waking them two hours later to explain that from now on they will be continually be woken two hours after they go to bed (until the noise stops) works wonders.

‘er indoors TM was up at silly o’clock to flog candles, and so I was awake and on the Internet earlier than usual on a Sunday. Did you know that eight people had been on my blog before 6am this morning? As well as a couple of international readers, there were six hits from UK-based readers. It would seem I’m not the only one with insomnia….

After a quick bout of brekkie, I kissed goodbye to ‘er indoors TM who was off on her travels and I set off to the railway station. Braving the swarms of French student who were also going to Folkestone (for no adequately explored reason), I was met at Folkestone Central, and soon four of us were on the bus to the Valiant Sailor at the far end of Folkestone. The first stretch of the journey from Folkestone to Dover is seriously uphill, and so getting a bus for that bit wasn’t really cheating. We soon met up with the fifth member of our party, and the first port of call was the Battle of Britain memorial. I had no idea this existed, and it had been done so well. I liked the wall displaying the names of everyone who had taken part in the battle – however it was rather embarrassing that the names of the combatants had been laid out in alphabetical order, and clearly a couple of names had been missed and had been added as an afterthought at the end.

From here we walked on to Capel cafĂ©, and sat on a pavilion on the cliff edge where we munched a sandwich and admired the views (or were terrified by the views), before heading onward. We followed the village road for a few hundred yards, and then we took the cliff path. There’s no denying this path was narrow in places, and was rather close to the cliff edge. But we managed not to fall over the edge, and I for one realised we were in one of the most scenic parts of the world. We found an old Second World War audio reflecting dish thingy, and we stopped to have a look-see, and posed for more photos. It was at this point that my mobile rang – the last member of our group had just parked his car and wondered where we were. I described our position relative to local landmarks. We both agreed where we all were, and we knew we weren’t far apart. So we all carried on walking along our respective paths, confident we would soon meet up.

We found an old army rifle range, and some ex-military buildings which are now cowsheds. And we found some old gun emplacements. My mobile rang again. Batty hadn’t met up with us. Where we we? There had been a slight confusion. Somehow I had told him that we were walking from Dover to Folkestone; and not from Folkestone to Dover. Having been only a hundred yards apart at one point, we were now a mile adrift. So we agreed to stay put until he found us. And then we saw a hole in the ground…

Being just big enough to climb into, “Daddies Little Angel TMflatly forbade me to climb into it. Stevey climbed into it, and I sulked and demanded it wasn’t fair, and threatened to hold my breath until my face turned blue. Eventually I got my own way, and I was allowed into the hole. Now I think it fair to say that we all expected this hole to be big enough for a couple of us to squeeze into, and then we would need to be pulled out. However this tiny hole was actually the entrance to a subterranean complex which was featured a corridor probably a hundred yards long, and some rooms coming off of this corridor. We managed to see some of what was down there by use of flash photography, and the light from the flame of a cigarette lighter. However for most of the way I must admit I couldn’t actually see a thing, and I was dependent on using my walking stick to find my way. We need to go back with some decent torches to see what is down there. I have a plan to present something to the archaeology club based on what I find the next time I go.

We climbed out of the hole to see Batty in the distance, so we got our breath back, met up with him, told him how wonderful it was down below, and we all climbed back into the hole for another look-see. I say “look-see”. I actually mean “fumble in the pitch darkness”.

We then carried on along the top of the cliffs, admiring the view of Samphire Hoe, and calling in at all the disused and abandoned Second World War batteries along the way. I must admit I had a bit of a rant at this stage. It’s scandalous how much money English Heritage and the National Trust spend on some of their properties when the coast between Folkestone and Dover is awash with relics from the war which have (frankly) been left to rot.

Pausing only briefly to be told off for being too close to the cliff edge, we found we had reached our destination – Dover. We took our lives in our hands when we ran across the A20, and then puffed or way up to the Western Heights. This is somewhere I’ve never been before. It was wonderful. As welll as the Napoleonic defences, there was an entire fort up there. Not some tiddly little thing – an entire fort - probably as big as Dover castle. You can walk around the thing, but you can’t get inside it. I had no idea it even existed.

By this stage, all six of us were wilting, and so we staggered down the hill into Dover and, after a pit-stop at the fags shop, we made our way to the local Wetherspoons for well-earned ham, egg and chips. And three pints of ale for me (hic!)

I’ve had a really good day out with friends, I’ve learned loads, and we will be going back to investigate the tunnels in the not to distant future. If any of my loyal readers would like to come along of this expedition, please let me know….

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fascinating - I've always loved that part of the coast. Let me know when you're going to explore the tunnels further and I'll do my best to join you...