In­va­sion coast

Kent Life - - Countryside Life - WORDS: Caro­line Mil­lar PHO­TOS: Manu Palomeque

Dis­cover how the East Kent coast has fought off in­va­sion from hu­man and nat­u­ral forces on this easy walk from Walmer to Deal

The coast be­tween Walmer and Deal has long been on the front line of in­va­sion. Its flat shores and prox­im­ity to Europe have at­tracted over­seas at­tack­ers from Cae­sar’s Ro­man le­gions to Napoleon’s war­ships, from First World War bombers to Hitler’s planned in­va­sion just 80 years ago.

But hu­mans are not the only threat to this part of Bri­tain’s coast where the soft chalk cliffs face con­stant at­tri­tion from the sea. Eroded by waves and at­tacked by storms, the coast­line has both shrunk and grown, cre­at­ing a mar­ginal, shift­ing land­scape.

This flat, easy route of­fers a beau­ti­ful coastal walk from the me­dieval vil­lage of Walmer to the trendy sea­side town of Deal while con­sid­er­ing the chang­ing fate and for­tunes of a coast ‘on the front­line’.

Here we high­light some of the sto­ries you’ll un­cover as you walk.

TO THE MANOR BORN

Our walk be­gins in Up­per Walmer, an in­land vil­lage where, if you look closely, you can still get a sense of its me­dieval ori­gins.

Peek over the wall of Old St Mary’s church and you’ll see the ro­man­tic stone and flint re­mains of Walmer Court. Built in the

12th cen­tury, this was once the manor house – the beat­ing heart of the vil­lage – which owned and con­trolled the land and the life of the vil­lagers around.

Un­like its flashier neigh­bour Deal, to­day Up­per Walmer feels out of the way, off the beaten track even. But this is no ac­ci­dent.

Thanks to its prox­im­ity to the coast, Walmer’s fate has long been linked to the sea. From at least the 18th cen­tury a spit of land grew north­wards from Walmer to Deal.

Deal saw it as an op­por­tu­nity and built onto the new land, grow­ing from a small town into a sea­side re­sort. Up­per Walmer was left as a quiet semi-ru­ral vil­lage, much of it rel­a­tively un­changed from its me­dieval lay­out.

HENRY’S CAS­TLES

The low, level shore be­tween Walmer and Deal with its long prom­e­nade can be a de­light­ful place to stroll. In sum­mer, the shingle beach is aflame with salt­tol­er­ant plants like pink sea pea, sea kale and wild car­rot. Bri­tain’s most in­fa­mous monarch, Henry VIII saw the weak­ness of this flat coast, how­ever – see­ing in it an

ABOVE:Built by the or­der of Henry VIII, Deal Cas­tle is one of the finest Tu­dor ar­tillery cas­tles in Eng­land

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