Last week’s busy overseas business itinerary, this time in London, ended with the usual installment of micro-tourism.
We rented a car and drove down to the White Cliffs of Dover, the sheer façade that drops into the English Channel. I’d long dreamed of getting down to the southern coast of England, the place where d’Artagnan came ashore (seeking out the queen’s diamonds wasn’t it? Will have to re-read the book), as did William the Conqueror, and I’m sure a whole hoard of other invaders and the like did…
These cliffs are sure worth a visit, but maybe at a more comfortable time of year. In January it’s freezing here. Oh, that wind! Ouch. Mind you, I get the feeling the wind is felt here year-round, what with it being so open and exposed up on the tops. I don’t get how the sheep here manage to withstand it. They must be some super-hardy British breed or something.
The good thing about coming here in winter however is that there aren’t many tourists getting in your way and spoiling the photo opps. Just make sure you don’t come in your best clobber – it can get mucky here after some rainfall.
An impromptu mini-series of visits to Atlantic cliffs of Western Europe came about this winter – taking in different coastal rock faces in Portugal and Ireland. To complete the series properly I think we need to get over La Manche and to the cliffs of Normandy… but then, that’s not quite Atlantic… but then, neither is Dover… OK, let’s drop the ‘Atlantic’ bit and keep just the cliffs bit :).
IMHO, the White Cliffs of Dover don’t quite come up to par with the others we’ve seen of late – not quite as big and not so impressive overall. But there is one feature where they nail it: they’re white!
My travel companion A.Sh. also got some happy snapping in:
“A typically British severe January aesthetic,” he observed. “That austere leaden sky… In summer it’d seem too Mediterranean here, to beachy; that’s just wouldn’t be cricket.” :)
So yes; if you’ve ever a day spare while in southern England – make sure to have a stopover at the White Cliffs of Dover. Yes, that does rhyme.
Get on over… to the White Cliffs of Dover – @e_kasperskyTweet
But do bear in mind that getting to them ain’t easy.
It’s not far to travel, in all about 70 miles (~110 kilometers) from our hotel near Baker Street, but it takes ages to cover that distance. There’s the hustle and bustle of the big city, endless traffic lights, and traffic jams along narrow streets. Then our navigator sent us on some kinda scenic route completely avoiding main roads! As a result our journey lasted three (3!) hours (which works out at an average speed of 37km/h).
On the way back we did a lot better, hitting a motorway early on and getting back to the outskirts of the capital in just an hour. But to get to Sherlock’s neck of the woods took us another hour and a half because of heavy traffic! So yeah, road travel in Southern England – it has its… nuances. It would probably have been better to have taken the train to Brighton and then rented a car for half a day.
Another unexpected hindrance was… flooding!
After heavy rain plenty of ponds and lakes broke their banks. Judging by the number of signs we saw stored by the roadsides I think flooding’s a regular occurrence here. I wonder, is that down to global warming, or just not being prepared for the worst of, er, let’s face it, the famously bad British weather? :). Must say, I did muse quite a bit about this… I also noticed how the roads didn’t have ditches each side by the curb (like in, for example, Russia). If a meter of snow fell one winter it’d be a catastrophe!
Btw, it seems that the traffic in London has gotten worse. Maybe it’s because the price of gas has fallen and everyone’s using their cars instead of the tube? Any thoughts you Londoners among you (in the comments please).
That’s it for now folks. All the photos are here. Cheery-ho…