Interesting Planet

December 27, 2009

White Cliffs Country (England)

White Cliffs Country is an area along England’s southern coast, and is better known as “the white cliffs of Dover”: the landscape consists of tens of miles of blindingly white, almost vertical rock faces, grasslands and little villages perched on tops of cliffs or tucked away in bays.

The cliffs are made of chalk (a form of limestone), made up of the remnants of prehistoric algae – the same material they used to make school blackboard chalk from — these days it’s synthetic —, and if you scratch the cliff surface, it actually crumbles. (Note: standing on top of a cliff that crumbles under your fingers is a little scary). The cliffs are often higher than 100 metres (same as a 30-story building), and can be seen from France on a clear day.

The area’s historical significance is that it’s the part of England closest to the continent, and because of this potential invaders could always be expected to land here over the millennia. The Battle of Britain (Nazi Germany’s foiled attempt to gain air superiority over Britain in WWII) also took place mainly in these parts.


There are miles and miles of hiking and cycling trails along the cliffs with amazing views on a clear day (see the Getting there and around chapter below for recommended walking/cycling routes).


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