Original article from Kent Live
The White Cliffs of Dover have just been named as being home to one of the best walks in the UK.
Starting at the National Trust Visitor Centre near Dover, undulating walks with spectacular views take you over several bays.
We also recently featured another stunning coastal walk recently, along the Saxon Shore Way between Walmer and Kingsdown that takes you past not one but two Henry VIII castles.
However, the best walk of all might be the one that is right in between the two.
A loop from St Margaret's Bay to South Foreland lighthouse and back takes around an hour.
During that time you'll ridiculously good views of the Channel, woodland trails, rolling meadows and lavish properties, plus several excellent refreshment stops along the way.
The best place to start is the big car park in the bay.
The pub is here too – so you can feed and water yourself first if it takes your fancy.
However most avid walkers who also like a tipple know it’s best to enjoy the downtime at the end.
First you want to head back up Bay Hill towards Pines Calyx.
When you get to the fork, go left past their tea rooms and wild gardens, both of which are worthy of an early stop.
Again, you’ll also hit them on the way back if you prefer to do it that way.
After that keep following Beach Road, where on your left you will see some seriously lavish seafront properties.
Anyone with an envious streak should probably therefore look to the right.
Soon it won't matter though, as the pathway reaches a wooded section.
Eventually it will hit its own fork, where you can either go over the cattle grid in front for a slightly inland trail, or head left up to the cliff tops.
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Both routes are beautiful – which is why it’s worth treating it as a loop, doing one on the way to the lighthouse and one on the way back.
I’d recommend going straight on first – it means you get the clifftop route on the way back, which, because it’s slightly downhill that direction, affords even more spectacular views.
Taking the inland route, you’ll get more in the way of woodland trails and views of meadows and valley slopes to the right.
Eventually the lighthouse will come into view, and you can start heading straight for that.
South Foreland lighthouse is a great resting and turning point.
Deeply historic, the first lights were in place there back in the 1600s, and the beautiful buildings that stand today date back to 1832, lovingly restored in recent years by the National Trust.
They’ve been badly needed all that time thanks to The Goodwin Sands.
The sandbank is hidden below the sea for most of the time, making it a graveyard for ships and mariners alike for centuries.
These days the lighthouse is used mainly for recreation.
There is plenty of seating, a shop for refreshments, and even games and kite-flying for the kids.
Then you can begin the walk back on the cliff-top trail.
Be prepared for spectacular views.
Like the woodland trail, while not exactly pushchair friendly, the chalky ground makes for a good solid track for walking along.
For pretty much the whole route, the English Channel can be seen in all its glory on the right.
Soon though the landscape opens up on both sides, affording incredible views over the valley slopes and the village of St Margaret’s on the left too.
Eventually, the trail will cut inland again to the left, taking you back to the original fork.
A right here will get you going past the tearooms and wild gardens and lavish seafront properties again.
Before long you’re going down Bay Hill, soon to reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Turn the corner, and after your hour long hike, the magnificent St Margaret’s Bay awaits.
The beach has some finer shingle parts good for sun bathing, and some caves and rock pools for the kids too.
Then there’s the Coastguard pub, the closest watering hole to France in the entire country.
It’s well reviewed in terms of food and drink.
And it has to have one of the best locations for a tipple in the entire country, its terrace overlooking the bay and the White Cliffs and the glistening English Channel.
The perfect way to end a beautiful cliff top walk.