The Strait Story

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

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.


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

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