D80: Deal to Folkestone
Thursday 1st September 2022
Today miles: 14.6 Total miles: 1302.1
It seems strange to think that this is already my last planned English Coastal Path walk of 2022. The last twelve months have gone by so amazingly quickly. The vague plan for this particular trip is to leave Deal on 1st September and then hopefully reach Southampton some 13 days later. It’s roughly two hundred and twenty miles.
I arrived at Deal train station around 1pm and set off at a fair pace, driven along by a lot of excitement and a equal measure of adrenaline. This section of the English Coastal Path was well signposted and is part of the older and more established Saxon Shore Way. I was grateful for the concrete promenade as it meant I could avoid the dreaded shingle beach. I continued past first Deal Castle and then Walmer Castle until the promenade and road walking ended on the edge of Kingsdown. As the result of ignoring a warning sign at the foot of the approaching white cliffs I was forced into an additional mile of walking. This wasn’t a problem so early in the day and I brushed it off without too much grumbling.
The walk along the cliff top was easy going and the views were spectacular. On the approach to South Foreshore Lighthouse I could see the roll-on roll-off ferries on the English Channel going to and from Dover. I took a long break at the Lighthouse and used the opportunity to remove my socks and shoes as my feet felt like they were constantly on fire. Not just hot spots, they just felt hot all over. There was a little bit of ascent and descent into Dover and although I couldn’t describe it as significant it was way more than I had got used to on the coastal path. On reaching the Eastern outskirts of Dover I wandered away from the coast and walked into the town centre. The continuous rumbling of traffic as I walked towards the docks was an unwelcome companion so I plugged in my earphones and sang along to an 80’s icon (in my opinion) Belinda Carlisle until I reached Wetherspoons. It was still about two hours until sunset so after tea I set off along the main A20 road until reaching Shakespeare Cliffs where I once again regained the cliff edge. It was a pleasant walk along the ridge adjacent to the Sapphire Hoe Country Park. There’s a large number of old gun emplacements and other small buildings dotted along this section of the coast and I hoped to pitch my tent near one of these, as they might offer me a little protection from the wind.
I eventually set up on Abbot’s Cliff close to the ‘listening ear’ device. This concrete ‘thing’ is a remnant from World War One and apparently one of several dozen erected along this part of the coast as an early warning listening device for enemy aircraft. It seems laughable now, but the cleverest people of the time probably believed these things actually worked. As the sun began to set I sat close to the cliff edge, ate my noodles and watched the lights appear in the distance, at Folkestone harbour. A good first day.