This is a short but sweet rollercoaster ride through magnificent Kent countryside packed with heritage and fresh sea breeze. Three medieval and Tudor castles are situated along this 10-mile route, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is pretty impressive! But most importantly, I picked this route because it reminds me of a race track – sweeping bends and frequent change in elevation makes it a wonderful experience, especially if you catch the right time and get the road to yourself to enjoy. It’s best to try this route around the mid-morning – after the rush hour traffic has quietened down and before the sleepy tourists begin to trickle in.
The journey begins near the Dover marina as you find your way towards the bottom of the East Cliff. I did mention that there were a lot of elevation changes taking place but this one is the biggest. In a space of less than a mile we ascend from the Zero-level to whopping 408 feet above the sea level. The serpentine leading to the medieval Dover Castle is thrilling even though you’re still within Dover town and limited by the 30-mile speed restriction.
Once you reach the hilltop, you’re greeted by the coveted National Speed Limit sign. It’s time to put the foot down as this is the fastest section of the route. Caution should be taken when approaching the downhill S-bend. It’s very tight and unpredictable. Switch on the headlamps. The thick foliage of the century-old trees makes it dark as night even when the sun’s out. It’s a bit slippery when wet and not the widest of the roads, so be careful.
After you pass the roundabout, the speed limit is reduced to 50. Don’t ask me why – the road is as wide as the previous stretch. I’ll blame the tractors – they do pop up from time to time. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining. The slower the speed the more of the countryside you can take in. The seemingly endless wheat and corn fields meet the hazy sea shore at the horizon and you feel as if you’re at the top of the world.
Right before you approach the village of Ringwould, there’s another exciting S-bend. Not as dark as the first one but it does look as spooky! Now that we’re out of the woods and ascending uphill towards Walmer, it’s worth dropping the speed and checking the scenery. There’s a magnificent windmill on the left and far-fetching views across the English Channel to the right. No need for speeding. There’s a 30-mile speed limit sign approaching anyway. This is allegedly where Julius Caesar disembarked from his ship – a historically important place!
We’re approaching the slowest part of our journey. Take the right turn into Walmer Castle Road and appreciate the architecture with one eye as you mind the mirrors with the other one. This is a narrow street but it is a beautiful one and it takes you to the Walmer Castle. There are two parking lots opposite the castle. Both are free and I’ve always managed to find a space even during the busy tourist season. If you’re a member of English Heritage, entry is free to all three castles.
The last leg of the route follows along the seaside. You find yourself on the Strand – historically a traditional fishermen community. Not as fashionable as the world-famous Strand but still a very beautiful place with quirky shops on one side and a wide pebble-beach on the other side. If you’re in hurry, parking is free for one hour all along the Strand.
The towns of Walmer and Deal are adjoining so unless you work for the district council, you don’t really know the moment you leave Walmer and enter Deal. Another mile along the beach and we’ve reached our destination. There are three large long-stay parking lots within the heart of the town