The beauty of coast and countryside in winter time
Stunning winter landscapes with berry-laden hedgerows and frost-tinged meadows, afternoon sunsets on the beach… at this busy time of year, it’s important to take a breather from rushing around – and it’s always a pleasure in White Cliffs Country, where the peace and beauty of nature provide calming and relaxing respite ahead of the festivities of late December.
White Cliffs Country’s coastline, wonderful to visit all year round, takes on a unique and dramatic beauty during winter time and Kent’s Heritage Coast – the only UK destination to feature in Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2022 – is home to many of White Cliffs Country’s coastal gems, exciting to explore this season and always. Samphire Hoe, a rare chalk grassland habitat and exceptional biodiversity site has accessible paths, family-friendly nature events and traditional winter craft workshops taking place throughout the winter, run by the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership. St Margaret’s Bay, a stunning secluded cove with spectacular walks across the clifftops of the White Cliffs of Dover to the historically significant South Foreland Lighthouse, also offers an historic circular walking trail and is home to Britain’s closest pub to France.
Part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB), Kent’s Heritage Coast was praised for its commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives, with the regeneration of the historic town of Dover recognised within the region’s entry. Lonely Planet’s publication also highlighted Dover Castle, open at weekends throughout the winter season and during Christmas week – an unmissable feature of the White Cliffs Country coastline chronicling more than 2000 years of history and which, together with the Tudor fortresses at Deal and Walmer, the Roman fort remains at Richborough and the many other heritage sites of Deal, Dover, Sandwich and beyond, offers an incredible history and heritage experience to visitors. It also highlighted the region’s involvement in Interreg funded projects, including the Experience project, which supports local tourism and hospitality businesses in developing new, low-environmental impact year-round tourism experiences, including accessibility improvements in the Kent countryside.
Visitors will love the winter flora and fauna of White Cliffs Country’s parks and gardens, including Kearsney Parks near Dover – which have this year been awarded The Green Flag Award® – for seasonal strolls and stunning winter photo opportunites this winter. The origins of Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens can be traced back to grand country houses and estates built for prominent local industrialists in the early 19th and 20th centuries. The River Dour, a spring-fed chalk stream, flows through both of the carefully-designed parks and, together with the ornamental lakes, gives them a picturesque landscape style. Perfect for families, dog-walkers and anyone who wants to slow the pace and soak up the tranquility of winter amidst the busy build-up and chaotic rush of the Christmas countdown, the parks have a newly renovated café, play area and public conveniences.
Lights, Camera, Insta!
White Cliffs Country is sparkling with festivity this season with events to celebrate the Christmassy illumination of Deal, Dover and Sandwich. Dover’s Heritage Quarter transforms into a winter’s wonderland in early December for Dover’s Winter Light Up. The event will combine a Christmas Market with live entertainment, exciting Christmassy activities and an interactive evening of festive illumination, with a lantern procession parading through the town centre to accompany Dover’s Christmas lights. A full day of events is also planned for the Christmas Lights switch-on in Sandwich, beginning with a party in King Street with music, Christmas craft stalls, Father Christmas, mulled wine and Christmas Jumper Parade. A funfair in the Guildhall car park together with stalls in St Peter’s Church and Market Street add to the festivities planned for the day, with an evening lights switch-on in Market Street.
Christmas Gifts Galore
Across characterful towns and historical villages, there’s something special about the Christmas shopping experience in White Cliffs Country. Visitors can browse magical craft markets – like those at Crabble Corn Mill in Dover and Betteshanger Park near Deal – to find unique and handmade gifts and decorations as they enjoy the atmosphere of these traditional Christmas events.
In historic Dover, De Bradelei Wharf outlet shopping and St James Retail Park are ideal to visit for Christmas party outfits while the town centre shops offer the convenience of collecting all the essentials to help the festive season run smoothly. An eclectic selection of restaurants, from Mexican to Caribbean to tapas and more, will tempt visitors taste buds, who won’t want to miss popping into the Visitor Information Centre at Dover Museum for unique gifts and the chance to purchase the BRAND NEW White Cliffs Country calendar for 2022!
In Sandwich, it’s all about wandering through the medieval streets, pausing to enjoy the beautiful tableaus of Sandwich Advent Windows and the magic of the Christmas lights, finding bespoke gifts from independent retailers and being rewarded with warm drinks and a bite to eat in one of the many cosy coffee shops or traditional inns in this beautifully preserved historical town and original Cinque Port.
Deal’s award-winning high street offers special Christmas gifts from its independent shops and, when it’s time for a break, visitors can enjoy a relaxing visit to Deal’s art galleries, a stroll along the beautifully lit promenade and Deal Pier, enjoying the panorama of an unspoiled historic seafront and the warm welcome from the many bars and bistros of this quaint and quirky coastal town.
From medieval wassailing to Christmas tree festivals, Christmas carol singing to pantomimes for grown-ups and a screening of the Nutcracker ballet – festive events in White Cliffs Country won’t be beaten for whistles and sleighbells. Little ones will love to hunt for reindeer along Rudolph’s trail at Betteshanger Park, enjoy the traditions of family pantomimes, meet Santa at Crabble Corn Mill or even have breakfast with Santa at the Georgian working watermill in the countdown to Christmas.
New Year Resolutions
When January arrives – with all good intentions and newly restored vows to get fit, stay fit and active, there’s no better environment than White Cliffs Country to boost health and wellbeing with our coastline and countryside offering the perfect place to enjoy outdoor exercise and adventure sports with stunning views and fresh air – plus perfect places to stay to wind down and chill out.
Visit White Cliffs Country in winter time and adventure with us here in Deal, Dover, Sandwich and beyond. Find out more about visiting White Cliffs Country – from how to get here to where to stay – here.