Since this short walk is around the ancient town centre of Dover, I have for once designed a walk that does not start and finish at the tea shop. Instead it starts at the railway station and ends at the tea shop. The reason for this is that the railway station is well signposted and easy to find. In a crowded town centre where car parking is difficult on most days I thought this made sense.
Find Dover Priory Railway Station. This station was opened in 1861 to serve as a temporary terminal for the London, Dover and Chatham Railway line. It took the company six months to tunnel through the hill to Dover Harbour and erect a new terminus there. This station then became a passenger through station serving the town centre while the new stop became the main station for the docks and for passengers connecting to the cross channel ferries - the famous “boat trains”. Little of the 1861 station remains as it was almost entirely rebuilt in 1932, though that did give Dover an architectural classic of early 20th century design.
1) Leave the station along the access drive to reach Folkestone Road. Turn left. At a roundabout turn right into York Street.
2) Follow York Street to a second roundabout. Cross the main road and walk across the pedestrianised area to reach the seafront. To your right is the Dover Marina. To your left is the beach and seafront.
In the Marina you can catch a boat to take you out fishing on most days in the summer and irregularly in the spring and autumn. Although the Marina is for the use of private yachts and other small craft, it is part of the Port of Dover, which also includes the Eastern Docks - used by cross channel ferries and other ships - and the largely disused Western Docks. On average Dover handles 16 million travellers, 700,000 trucks, 1.6 million cars and motorcycles and 118,000 buses each year, raising £15.5 billion a year and making this the busiest of the Channel ports.
There was a small port here in prehistoric times as the sheltered mouth of the River Dour (from which the town takes its name) was ideal for the small fishing craft and trading ships of the time. The Romans named the place Dubris and built a major naval base here. They built a lighthouse up on the hill where the medieval castle now stands, and that is still in pretty good condition - indeed it is the tallest Roman structure still standing in Britain. Not much else is left from Roman times due to the constant growth and redevelopment of the town and its fortifications over the centuries.