The Strait Story
Next time you’re en route to the continent, pause awhile in Dover to explore its lesser-known charms
Manu Palomeque and Discovering Britain
At just 21 miles, the Straits of Dover are the narrowest part of the English Channel, making Dover the closest mainland town to our continental cousins. With the biggest geographical question of all still hanging in the balance, this short walk is a chance to look beyond its role in travel and trade to discover some of the hidden stories of this ancient coastal port.
ANCIENT AND MODERN
Slap bang in the town centre is Pencester Gardens. Nowadays it’s a little tucked away next to the bus station, but worth seeking out for the small section of stream that runs through this green space. Springing from a source near Temple Ewell and flowing for close to four miles, this stream was once a much larger river called the Dour
(the river which gives Dover its name).
This area, including Pencester Gardens, was originally the river’s estuary, a wide, flat, low-lying landscape where the river broadened before reaching the sea. The water source and shelter offered by the river’s valley attracted the first Bronze Age settlers. It went on to become an important Roman port and later, during the medieval period, a source of power for mills, an iron foundry and a tannery.
ABOVE:Dover Castle and cliffs seen from the beach