Folkestone is blessed with many absolutely stunning walks nearby, whether you fancy a quick flat loop, a meandering amble or some strenuous hiking Folkestone is a fantastic starting point for many wonderful walks. Below are some photos and details for some of my favourites walks.
The beautiful natural curving bay that sweeps from Folkestone to Dungeness via Hythe, Dymchurch and Camber Sands and Rye is one of the UK’s most beautiful and most under-developed natural bays. If it was sand we’d be the riviera. It’s littered with lovely cafes, and lovely places to visit for drinks and dinner. You can pick a leg for a day spent strolling by the sea or pick up hire bikes one end and try to do the whole loop. Trains run from Rye to Ashford and then back to Folkestone around once an hour. There’s also the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway line – one of the world’s smallest miniture railways lines it runs from the Cinque Port of Hythe via Dymchurch, St. Mary’s Bay, New Romney and Romney Sands to Dungeness, close to Dungeness nuclear power station and Dungeness Lighthouse. Almost all of those stops are worth a half a day. Dungeness power station on the largest shingle bank in Europe (Dungeness) is a trully otherwordly experience with great vistas and a few nice places to stop for a bite, and some ideal picnic spots.
Over the years we’ve taken many enjoyable walks in this area. We’ve walked from Folkestone to Rye (okay to tell the truth we walked from Folkestone to Camber and then jumped the bus so we had time to shower before dinner in the heart of Rye’s historic centre) but it was a great 5-6 hour flat hike mainly on footpaths with fairly little traffic taking in that stunning bay, rural fields, military bases and scenic villages. We’ve also cycled the route. At around 25 miles it’s probably a bit much for either in 1 day but I’m definitely planning another trip as far as Camber to find The Gallivant as the reviews suggest it’s well worth the trek. So this summer we might do a 2 dayer stopping at Camber for the Gallivant and then heading on into Rye and round the coast a little further before grabbing a train home. Trains from Rye to Folkestone allow bikes outside of peak hours but given it’s size The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch line does not!
There’s some wonderful walks heading east from Folkestone towards Dover. Firstly, our most loved local beach The Warren this lovely beach is just moments from town but thanks to the steep hills required to get to it only receives a fraction of the visitors of our other main beaches. It’s a brillliant place for a picnic or dog walking and you could just take a short stroll away from the town for some peace and quiet or you could pass through the Warren on a longer hike. Folkestone to Dover in a day takes around three-four hours, along the north downs way. It’s rather lacking in pubs and cafes but is littered with fasinating wartime history with the cafe at the Battle of Britain Memorial your best bet for some mid-way tea and cake. And of course you’ll finish up in Dover, if you started reasonably early you’d have time to explore one of the best castles the UK has to offer with bags of history modern and ancient, but I’d personally return to Folkestone, via the 20 minute stunning train journey that hugs the bottom of the famous white cliffs.
If you prefer more pubs than cafes on your longer routes, which I can’t lie is a must for me, you might prefer to jump the train to Dover and walk on down the coast to Deal. This route is a favourite of ours, it starts with a steep hike up to Dover Castle and then walks the top of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover before meandering comfortably downhill through pretty villages like St Margarets down to the smugglers warren of streets and drinking holes that Deal offers up.
If you want to grab a bite or a drink enroute you are spoilt for choice at the lighthouse or sample the ales at the ‘closest pub to france’ both around St Margarets. Deal offers plenty of options for dinner and trains take about 30 minutes to get back and are usually 1 or 2 an hour. Bikes are allowed out of the rushhour.
Deal has plenty to offer, a castle in the town and in Walmer en route, a pier with cafe at the end and if the sun is shining usually music in the main square on Beach Street surrounded by three different pubs with gardens. There’s also some quality fine dining restaurants and great foodie pubs to.
The Wye valley is an area of outstanding natural beauty in the North Downs Way, although walking it from Folkestone there’s not many downs it’s a 22 mile walk. It’s pretty much straight up for the first two hours so you’ll need to be prepared for some strenuous hiking and expect the route to take around 4-5 hours. but the views are well worth it. Firstlly, great views over Folkestone, and secondly some interesting birds eye view above the Channel Tunnel entrance and then finally into scenic countryside with many beautiful villages and great foodie pubs throughout the journey. Lunch at the Tiger Inn for rustic charm, beautiful location and a cracking menu about two thirds of the way to Wye. Suitable refueled for the more downhill and flat final miles into Wye. In Rye you’re spoilt for choice for dinner we love The Wife of Bath for a bit of fancy dining and The Kings Head, which does a mean Sunday Roast. Finally, trains back to Folkestone changing at Ashford take around 35 minutes once per hour.