The White Cliffs of Dover. The Gateway from the Continent to Britain.

Every day about 200 ferries cross the English Channel, making it one of the busiest sea lines in the world. So for a lot of travellers the White Cliffs of Dover is the first impression of Britain, and having been seen once, they are etched in the heart forever. Exactly for this milky shoreline the British Island were dubbed Albion in the distant past that derives from “albus" meaning "white”.

the white cliffs of dover

The White Cliffs of Dover owe their name due to the presence of chalk, which formed from microscopic hard-shelled organisms, called plankton, and limestone about scores of millions of years ago. The constant process of erosion also keeps the cliffs white; otherwise, having been plastered by vegetation, they would turn into The Green Cliffs of Dover.

The coastal trail winds along 250-metres of cliffs and offers a spectacular view across the English Channel. Only about 26 miles separate Dover from Calais, so if the weather is fine, the identical white cliffs can be spotted on the French seashore, reminding that once Britain and the Continent were the same.

the english channel

Walking along the path you inevitably encounter the South Foreland Lighthouse that had been protecting the ships from the notorious Goodwin Sands from 1843 until the end of the 20th century. It was also the first lighthouse operating by means of electric lamps and the location of the first conveyance of radio signal from shore to ship. Not far from the lighthouse is the bay, which is well known as the other attraction of the White Cliffs of Dover.

dover lighthouse

Having been the narrowest portion of the English Channel, the Strait of Dover has been crossed by numerous swimmers since 1875. Many records were set up during this time. So the fastest swim was obtained for seven hours, whereas the slowest took about 27 hours. The oldest registered conqueror of the Strait was the 67-year old Australian, who reached the shores of France for 18 hours and 37 minutes.

the white cliffs of dover

The stunning beauty of the White cliffs simply cannot help but inspire for the creative work. It has been painted and extolled in the poetry, cinematography and literature so much. Once William Shakespeare started the ball rolling, mentioning the chalk giants in his immortal “King Lear”, one of the White Cliffs was called “Shakespeare’s Cliff”. Ian Fleming, who also used to keep the summerhouse near the South Foreland Lighthouse, also affixed his signature to the describing of this British wonder. The White Cliffs of Dover became the set of “Moonraker”, one of his book series about James Bond. In 2009 BBC version of Jane Austen’s “Emmathe White Cliffs became the perfect decoration for the final scene.


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