Frontline Britain Trail at St Margaret’s
The start was slightly delayed by the non-arrival of the youngest member of the group who had been diverted by the closure of the Jubilee Way and gone to St Margaret’s Bay instead of the Dover Patrol Memorial car park in error. The views of France from the car park are very clear. There is much on the information boards around about the Memorial and the Dover Patrol which guarded the Channel during the First World War. The walk planned was the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership ‘Frontline Trail’ and was to be led by our own man of property. Setting off across the car park we entered a field and went across it - in the wrong direction. In our defence it has to be said that a) the interaction with a lady at the gate into the field served to deflect attention from the instructions in the trail guide and b) the instructions were not the clearest ever to have been published. At the exit of the field we travelled along a number of side streets and along a footpath until we were able to join a drove way and the planned route. At the join with the drove way a couple of llama were grazing in a field with a horse.
At the end of the drove way we encountered a horse who was able to confirm that we were now on the correct path – at least his young female rider did. Doubting our ability to successfully complete the walk, one of the group unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a lift on the back of the horse. Having failed in this attempt, we pressed on emerging from the drove way onto the High Street. Crossing the High Street to Reach Road we passed the duck pond before turning left into Reach Close. At the end of the close the path heads across a field toward a woodland area. We stopped for a few minutes to commiserate with a dog walker who was trying to retrieve her lurcher. We pressed on towards the woodland where the lurcher was probably rooting around and enjoying himself. Taking the path by the side of the wood we emerged onto the South Foreland Road. Travelling along this road until it turned into a dirt track, we took a small diversion to explore a war time building currently used by pilgrims for imbibing cans of beer. There were still some blackberries in the undergrowth. Returning to the South Foreland track for half a mile we eventually found the indicated path by the side of a cattle grid. Following this for a few hundred yards we took a side path to the South Foreland lighthouse where there were a number of benches for the usual lunchtime break. The conversation ranged from the relative merits of steaming as opposed to stewing apples well as batch cooking curries! Discussions were augmented by the banter of a school of children visiting the lighthouse causing a sense of panic amongst the educationalists in the group.
Setting off for the return journey we rejoined the Frontline Trail and Saxon Shore Line along the cliff top towards St Margaret’s Bay. Passing a number of information boards and the windmill we descended through the valley, eventually arriving at the Pine Gardens and Museum. The Pine Gardens are built on the site of buildings which were defences against Napoleon in the Seven Year War. There are a number of tunnels underneath it and the gardens, which we did not have time to sample, are a tourist attraction. The waterfall has a number of goldfish and one Koi carp which clearly enjoyed the remains of the peanut butter cookies. At the end of the road we turned right into Bay Hill and descended to St Margaret’s Bay. There is a substantial piece of wall on the side of the road which again are the remains of Napoleonic defences. We stopped in the Bay for break and to enjoy an ice cream. The Bay has a history of smuggling as well being where Ian Fleming wrote some of the James Bond novels. A short way along the car park there are flights of stairs which rise back up the cliff face to the Leas. We are again encountered a party of school children who only served to revive the terrors of the past for two of the group. The path along the Leas leads directly back to the Memorial car park.
Five walkers completed the four and half mile trail.