Statistics: 9 miles, ascent 956′, descent 960′

Having tucked away a yummy breakfast of waffles at the Brambles B&B, we began our final day on the North Downs Way, a nine-mile walk to the English Channel and the city of Dover. Before leaving Lower Eythorne we stopped by the beautifully restored East Kent Railway station which has a small café, located in an old train car that was used by a circus to transport their elephants.

Restored train station in Eythorne

We rejoined the NDW at Waldershare Park with the rather impressive Waldershare House just across a field. The property was purchased in 1705 by Sir Henry Furnese who then began building this manor house. He died in 1712 before the house was completed and could not enjoy the results of his construction effort. This house has more recently been converted into private apartments.

Waldershare House

Walking through the park was most pleasant.

Waldershare Park

We found a swing in the park and could not resist!

Riding a swing in Waldershare Park

We were soon back into the expansive agricultural fields.

Rain was clearly in the clouds and we were glad to walk these fields before the path became middy and slippery.

nearing Dover

The descent into Dover began with this old, sunken path through the woods.

Sunken path into Dover

Coming upon the Victorian Charlton Cemetery, we knew that Dover was not far away.

Charlton Cemetery on outskirts of Dover

As we were hiking along the NWD over the past several days, we occasionally noticed vintage WWII aircraft flying overhead (flying east – toward Dover). It turned out that these airplanes were connected with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, to be celebrated in Dover the day after our arrival! As we entered the town we passed several moving memorials, including the one in the picture below. Once in Dover, we met many people who were visiting Dover just for this celebration.

wall memorial

Continuing down to the water’s edge, we finally arrived at the English Channel in Dover! Dover’s active ferry port, the white cliffs and Dover Castle (top of the hill on the left) are all in the background of this photo.

On the shores of the English Channel

Another athletic event which has a Start/Finish line on Dover’s beach is the swim of the English Channel from France – a major feat. This line is marked by two blocks, nor far from the end marker for the North Downs Way.

Official Start or Finish marker for the English Channel swim

Success! Crossing the Finish (or Start) Line of the North Downs Way!

finish line for the North Downs Way

For this last night at the end of the North Downs Way, our B&B, Castle Guest House, was situated down the hill below the medieval Dover Castle, initially built by Henry II in 1180. This castle has been a center of British defense against the armies of the continent (read: Germany and France) over the centuries. Not only are the tours of the castle fascinating, but the wartime tunnels under the castle are also well presented and clearly described.

Dover Castle

As the endpoint of this journey, we had scheduled two days of down-time in Dover to enjoy the UK before flying back to California. Not far from our B&B was a pub, The White Horse, that until just a few years ago was the last step in any swim across the English Channel. Successful swimmers of the Channel would come to sign the walls – a community record of their accomplishment.

The White Horse

The interior wall space of this pub was completely covered with these signatures which provided an intriguing history of that challenge. We enjoyed a delicious dinner there and were thoroughly entertained as we read the swimmers’ accounts.

English Channel swimmers’ accounts

With a couple days to relax in Dover, we explored the town and at one point strolled along the edge of the famous white cliffs.

White Cliffs of Dover

Over the preceding four weeks we had trekked the Cotswolds Way in southwestern England and now the North Downs Way as it worked its way through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” though private lands and public thoroughfares, across several golf courses and with innumerable historical points of interest. Let it be said that we truly enjoyed these four weeks of hiking through southern England.

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