Blog of Justin Cheuk, home to writing on London, Hong Kong, Studying Abroad, Trains and Travels.

The (Not Particularly) White Cliffs of Dover

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Justin Cheuk: When HK Meets UK

With the end of the Easter holiday fast approaching (Seriously, where has the free time gone?), it’s about time to reflect upon some of short or longer excursions that I’ve completed in the past few weeks.

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Not So White Cliffs of Dover, March 2015.

The White Cliffs of Dover are, perhaps unsurprisingly, a stretch of cliffs straddling along the English Channel near the port of DOVER. It’s also one of those places that I have long had the urge to visit.Back in my writer/hipster days (which I am not sure I’ve actually gone out of), the concept of braving the sea, at the edge of Britain, staring into the continent from the cliff just sounded sophisticated, writer-like and most crucially hipster-y.

Please don’t judge… too hard.

Dover is, of course, the primary and closest British port to France and the continent. As it often is the first or last sight of Britain for travellers across the channel, many people do attach great sentiments to it.

Mine wasn’t too great: like many my previous trip to Dover involved stepping off a night ferry from Calais (great savings; not great comfort). As we arrived at Dover as drawn broke, the sight of the cliffs seemed welcoming but also somewhat disappointing: after all it definitively signalled the end of a holiday. Shame.

Unfortunately, disappointment would prove to be a recurring theme. I finally properly walked around Dover is Easter. There’s only one problem.

It’s not really *that* white. And that’s not just the fault of British weather…

The walking trails of the white cliffs are located almost directly above the functioning port. But even with a transportation touch (which as most of you have probably figured scores highly on any travel for me), it seemed empty and populated by pensioners. For the first time in a good while, travelling with parents seemed appropriate.

Never mind that, let’s go on a walk. The paths were clearly marked and not difficult to walk on; although to my parents’ disappointment they were also situated directly on top of the cliff. Therefore for much of the walk we’re above the cliffs. Not much could be seen.

We walked on. As we fumbled on and descended the cliffs emerged. The greying sky and the typical lack of sunshine didn’t help, but the cliffs were certainly not reflecting any light as the photos always would. In fact, it’s also… a lot greener than expected.

Apparently as the cliffs are situated so close to a prominent international port, the cliffs had to be protected and secured against erosion. The solution to erosion is vegetation; as a result the cliffs are now increasingly green.

The facts all check out. Still a bit disappointed. The Green Cliffs and Dover just doesn’t sound as good.

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So there concludes a trip to the White Cliffs. Conclusion: this best view of it would be on a cross-channel ferry on a sunny day.

  1. It actually offers the best angle. The trails are physically above the cliffs itself and shields most of it from viewing.
  2. The cliffs are not particularly special unless you attach some symbolic value to it. Be it leaving Britain; on a holiday; coming back; start of the normal life again. You’ll appreciate it more going through (rather than to) the Cliffs.

It’s still better to have been, if only to tick it off the long-time bucket list. It probably shall remain one of those places to view from afar…

I’ll give it another go on the sunny day. Perhaps that would fix the problem?

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