On our last and final day in Kent we drove all the way to Dover. One definitely has to use the advantage of a late flight and that Kent is not such a big county. Since our planned coastal tour of cliff watching from the sea had fell through (instead we went to Rye and Hastings), we decided to still give at least the castle a go.
Dover castle, or this spot high above the sea, has been used since the Bronze Age. In Roman times a lighthouse stood here, which was later converted into a bell tower for the church next door. William the Conqueror built the first castle high above the cliffs, but part of what you can see today is still from the reign of Henry II.
Dover castle offers, besides a castle visit of the old parts, tours of the tunnels. These tunnels go back to the Napoleonic wars, when some poor foot soldiers probably built them. I really don’t want to imagine how life underground must have been like. At the beginning of WWII the locals used the tunnels as air raid shelters. Later military command center moved into the tunnels, it was also used as a hospital.
We lined up for Operation Dynamo, a tunnel tour about the evacuation from Dunkirk. It was quite action-packed and above all dark. The other tour we decided on, was the hospital one. Also rather dark and constricted. These tunnels, as said above, are not really a place to linger for long. So imagine staying in such a hospital during WWII.
You can still see some defense weapons lined up on the castle walls, just in case the Nazis would come over the channel. Or maybe they were for air defense. I honestly have no clue.
I was happier when we made our way up to the keep of the 12th century, or at least what’s left of it. Since the castle had always been important for English kings it has been kept in good shape and was renovated and enlarged from time to time.
The rooms inside looked a bit gaudy, but apparently that was the original style. I have already seen something similar in Stirling castle years ago. Maybe they needed color in the middle ages because there was not much light coming into the rooms. Also people slept in upright positions, that’s why the beds were so short.
But I liked the scribbling above the fireplace the most. Even in 1809 people were vandals and added their personal touch to just about everything.
We climbed the tower of the keep for a sprawling view over the sea and the area around. No wonder there has always stood a watch tower here from the early ages on.
Since we were already in Dover, once we left the castle, we slowly made our way to the coast to get as good a view on the cliffs as possible from land. Of course it can’t match an experience from the sea, but honestly the cliffs looked dramatic enough. The weather was grey and blustery, so actually perfect for a walk on the beach against the dramatic backdrop of the cliffs.
On a day like this, although it was in the middle of summer, it was almost unbelievable that people would swim here. But I am sure they do so. Yours, Pollybert