The ancient port of Dover is one of our top cycling hubs in Kent. Here's our pick of its nearby routes and cycle-friendly places
One of Britain’s best-known south coast ports, Dover stands proudly between its famous white cliffs.
Initially named Dubris by the Romans, it has long been a strategic port, located just 33km from the coast of France. During the Saxon period, Dover became a fishing port and was one of the Cinque Ports that homed England’s first long-serving Royal Navy. With its majestic castle as a coastal fortress once used to protect the whole country, along with unique wildlife and ancient woodland, Dover certainly is worth exploring beyond its busy ferry terminals.
Our three routes explore both the rich history and countryside that this area has to offer, using ancient pilgrim routes and byways, Roman roads and new cycle paths to visit the numerous historic sights, castles and world war memorials that link long spans of history and sights together using the power of the bicycle.
A Dover-Deal Sandwich (25 miles)
The ride starts from an amazing high point with wonderful views overlooking the busy Dover docks below, with boats and vehicles coming and going. You’ll be heading inland first, past Dover Castle and joining an old Roman road for a dead-straight journey northwards through the quiet countryside to Betteshanger.
Once you reach the coastline your journey becomes busy and bustling as you follow a well-surfaced cycle track southbound, alongside miles of lovely shingle beach. With plenty of worthwhile distractions along the way, from castles to ice cream and afternoon tea in china cups served from a lighthouse, it’s a quintessential English journey back to Dover, which shouldn’t be rushed.
Kearsney and Alkham (11 miles)
This route is ideal for a gravel, touring/hybrid bike or hardtail mountain bike, with quiet single-track roads guiding you along the River Dour, and wonderful old mill, before elevating you up into the rolling hills. You will pass the local banger car racecourse, before pressing onwards to explore some quiet valleys and rougher tracks of your own, following byways and back-lanes, crossing the Alkham Valley.
After rising to the top of a hill once more, you are rewarded with a thrilling descent to finish the ride back at Kearsney Abbey, where refreshments and discovery of the beautiful gardens awaits you, to round off a wonderful day of exploring.
Samphire Hoe (8 miles)
This route is suitable for any type of bike, including a road bike, as it follows a hard and well surfaced cycle path along the tops of the cliff, to the edge of Folkestone. With a good all-weather track and an out-and-back ride to provide easy navigation, once the climb up through the tunnel at the start is done, it is easy riding, so suitable for novice riders.
The route turns around at the Battle of Britain memorial, to provide a thought-provoking rest stop, before returning back along the coast. There is also an option at the start or finish to add a short, easy loop around the Samphire Hoe Country Park, along a cycle track, to enjoy the wildlife and plants found there too.
By train, Dover Priory is the main station for Dover, a terminus of the South-east Main Line from London, with further lines connecting it with other towns along the coastline, and inland to Canterbury.
By road, Dover is about eight miles east along the A20 from Folkestone, which sits at the end of the M20 motorway.
More cycling experiences in Kent, Cornwall and Norfolk
Dover is just one of our highlighted locations that's perfect for cycling. Here's Cycling UK's full set of cycle-friendly hubs, with accredited facilities and promoted routes
EXPERIENCE is a €23.3 million project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, €16 million) through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme 2014-2020, boosting visitor numbers in six pilot regions across England and France. This project will harness the experiential tourism trend to extend the season (October – March), generating 20 million new off-season visitors spending €1 billion across the Channel region by June 2023.