England’s best views: The White Cliffs of Dover

Simon Jenkins says:
‘Here stand the defensive walls of Shakespeare’s sceptred isle, his ‘demi-paradise/This fortressbuilt by Nature for herself,/Against infection and the hand of war’. Dover and its generations of fortifications embody resistance to invading foreigners, to Romans, Normans, French, Dutch and Germans. The cliffs breathe national defiance, from Henry V through Pitt to Churchill. The chalk hills of the North and South Downs began as a soup of micro-organic crustaceans deposited on the ocean floor.

They were heaved upwards into ridges and domes of chalk, interspersed with flint. Then came the sensational day towards the end of the Ice Age when the North Sea broke through the land bridge joining Dover to Calais.

I prefer to see the cliffs not so much as chauvinist bastions, but rather as geological survivors. Below them is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and a foreshore dominated by the modern port of Dover.’

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