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.
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