Dover Castle - Day Three (Western Heights)

Our third day in Dover, we had smashing weather. Not knowing how long it would last, we decided to make the best of it and go for a morning stroll on the pier. This is not a fancy entertainment pier, like they have in Brighton, but a more sensible and useful sort of construction. They have a café, of course, and we had a cup of tea while watching the gulls, the anglers, and the ferries.

Like I said, there isn´t much beachlife (at least not in early July), but there were a few people stretched out on the gravelly beach.

When we had had enough of the sea, we went to find something called The Grand Shaft. The fort on the Western Heights was built mainly during the Napoleonic Wars, that is, early 1800´s. The shaft is a shortcut to the town, and it was finished in 1809. It has three staircases, and was intended to get the troups down quickly from the Drop Redoubt to the harbour in case of an invasion. As it turned out, the invasion never came, and the shaft was used mainly for quick access to the pubs and the brothels of Snargate Street.

It wasn´t open, sadly, so all I have is photos of the entrance. There are great photos of the shaft here, and of the old Barracks, which were demolished in the 50´s.

After that we walked up towards the Western Heights, in search of the forts there. We weren´t entirely sure what it was going to look like, but we knew there wasn´t some kind of ordered and organized museum with opening hours and tea rooms. We had a rough idea of where to look, though.

First, we entered an enclosed pasture for Dexter cattle - bulls, scarily enough. It was a rather steep climb, pretty views all around, and orchids growing in the grass. I was walking along rather absent-mindedly when suddenly the ground opened up before me and behold: a castle dug into the ground! It was pretty amazing. After we had a good look at it from ground level we found the entrance, walked around inside the moat, and came out through a narrow tunnel.

The remains of the old Roman pharos - the lighthouse - was lost during the construction of the Redoubt, but later rediscovered and put back in its original place, on top of the Redoubt. Not accessible to us, unfortunately.

A hole in a hatch...

... enough to get a glimps of the inside.

A bit shaky, the small film here, but I´m posting it anyway.

There weren´t that many people up there, perhaps a handful of other visitors - only men (what, ladies aren´t interested in old forts?).

The blue arrows show where we came up through the cattle field and how we walked from the Drop Redoubt over to the detached bastion. Clearly, there was a lot to explore on the Western Heights, and we easily could have spent a week or two exploring Dover and its surroundings. Which is a good thing, if we decide to come honeymooning in Dover Castle´s little flat some time in the future!

The detached bastion was even harder to spot since it is not kept in any condition for proper display. And this is what would happen to the Drop Redoubt as well, if nature could have free reign there; it only takes a few years for the bushes and trees to completely cover it up. It´s all owned by, and cared for, by English Heritage.

The view from the detached bastion over the Drop Redoubt and the castle: the Great Tower to the left and the church with the Roman lighthouse appoximately center picture.

When we got back to the hotel, we treated ourselves to a proper English Afternoon Tea, with sandwiches, scones, and cakes. If you have one of these, you needn´t bother with dinner.

There is much more to see in Dover, like a Roman painted house, a Bronze age boat, a Bronze age metal hoard (axes and things), and... ok, that´s about it. But they have the castle, and it´s pretty cool.

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