New Romney to Canterbury
Explore three of the Cinque Ports on this drive up the coastline
Follow the route - New Romney to Canterbury
> From New Romney take the A259 again, then unclassified roads for 9 miles (14.5km) to Lympne, then via the B2067 to the A261 which leads eastwards to Hythe.
The 11th-century castle at Lympne (pronounced Lim) stands on top of a cliff which was once a coastline. Below the castle (not open to the public) extensive remains of a Roman fort can be seen.
Just outside town is Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, set in 300 acres (121 hectares) of gardens surrounding a mansion. East of Lympne is Hythe, another Cinque Port which is now a popular seaside resort and the terminus for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
The town has several historic buildings and summer boating along the old Royal Military Canal.
Places to stay near Lympne
> Follow the A259 from Hythe to Folkestone.
The harbour of this resort handles cross-Channel ferries, and still has a fishing fleet and a fish market. The History Resource Centre in Grace Hill has displays on the town’s maritime history. Spade House was the former home of the author H G Wells. The Leas, a wide grassy promenade along the cliff top, has fine views and provides an excellent walk through wooded slopes down to the beach.
Places to stay in Folkestone
> Head inland along the A260 as far as Hawkinge.
Set in the heart of the Downland west of Hawkinge is the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, which conjures up visions of World War II. It houses the largest collection of fragments of British and German aircraft involved in the fighting.
Places to stay near Hawkinge
> Take unclassified roads eastwards from Hawkinge, eventually running south on to the A256 for Dover.
Dover, famous for its White Cliffs, was the chief Cinque Port. It was known to the Romans as Dubris, and the Painted House, discovered in 1970, dates from about AD 200. Among the paintings are several references to the theme of Bacchus, the god of wine. On Snargate Street you can see the Grand Shaft, a 140-foot (43m) staircase cut into the white cliffs, built in Napoleonic times as a short cut to the town for troops stationed on the Western Heights. The views across to France can be best seen from Dover Castle, which overlooks the town. The Pharos, a Roman lighthouse, stands within its walls near the fine Saxon Church of St Mary de Castro.
Places to stay in Dover
> Take the A258, then an unclassified road to St Margaret’s at Cliffe.
Visiting St Margaret’s at Cliffe
The flint-faced church in the upper part of this village is typical of chalkland buildings. Massive chalk cliffs dominate the scene, and sheltered beneath them is the Pines Garden, created in the 1970s with trees, shrubs, a lake and waterfall, and a statue of Sir Winston Churchill.
Three miles (5km) further is Ringwould, which has another fine church, with an attractive 17th-century tower. Bronze Age barrows can be seen at nearby Free Down, and at Kingsdown there is a lot of flint, both on the buildings and on the shore.
> Rejoin the A258, then take an unclassified road right from Ringwould to Walmer.
Henry VIII built the castle here, along with over 20 other forts to defend the coast of southeast England. This fine coastal fortress, shaped like a Tudor rose, has been transformed into an elegant stately home with beautiful gardens, and is the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Lord Wellington was Warden from 1829 to 1852, and his famous boots are on display.
Further on, Deal Castle, also built by Henry VIII, is in the shape of a six-petalled flower, and tells the full story of the Tudor castles in the exhibition room. The Time Ball Tower, which used to give time signals to shipping is a unique four-storey museum of time and maritime communication on the sea front. The museum in St George’s Road has a collection of old photographs, model sailing ships and maps.
Places to stay in Walmer
> Take the A258 to Sandwich.
The oldest of the Cinque Ports, Sandwich is separated from the sea by 2 miles (3km) of sand dunes. Its white windmill dates from about 1760, and now houses the White Mill Rural Heritage Centre with domestic and farming exhibits. Sandwich golf course, between the town and Sandwich Bay, is a world-class championship course.
Places to stay in Sandwich
> Follow the A257 taking a detour through the village of Ash to Wingham.
This picturesque village contains a magnificent church with a green spire, caused by oxidisation. Howletts Wild Animal Park has cockatoos, macaws, owls and waterfowl, all with plenty of flying space, as well as rare farm animals and pets. Valuable research work takes place here to help endangered species, and to overcome man’s destruction of natural habitats. A little further out of town is the village of Littlebourne. Fruit and hops are grown around here, and there is an ancient thatched barn near the flint-faced church.
Places to stay in Wingham
> Continue along the A257 to Canterbury (6 miles/10km).
Successfully combining modernity with vulnerable old age, Canterbury may be a place of pilgrimage for those of an historical bent, but it remains a bustling and very much a 21st-century destination of appeal to everyone. Canterbury’s streets have attracted pilgrims for centuries and was the destination of Chaucer’s colourful travellers in The Canterbury Tales.