Thursday, 18 November 2010

Samphire Hoe

Samphire: corruption of the French Saint Pierre.  an edible plant sometimes called sea asparagus.  It doesn't taste in the least like asparagus but it's delicious.  In France it's salicorne, or Salicornia, though in the UK it's a different species entirely, rock samphire,  growing on cliffs and mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear: "Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!".

Hoe: a piece of land that juts out into the sea.

Samphire Hoe:  a piece of land reclaimed from the sea using the spoil from the excavation of the Channel Tunnel and officially opened to the public in 1997.  It is the newest part of Kent, between the famed White Cliffs and the English Channel just to the west of Dover.

This wonderful location provides peace and quiet, walking and wildlife.  This view is to the east, towards Dover.

In this view to the west you can see the main line railway to Dover as it follows the base of the cliffs, disappearing into it from time to time.  It's actually quite a spectacular train journey at times, right on the edge of the sea.

In order to reach Samphire Hoe, you have to go through this tunnel.  To the left you can just sea the rail tunnels.  To the right are the works for Eurotunnel.

The west beach, a shingle or pebbled beach, gives a view of Folkestone.  Unlike Deal beach, it's quite rocky at low tide and would merit further investigation.

A good view of the sea wall construction.  It consists of two rows of sheet piles driven into the sea bed, the space between the two walls being filled with concrete.  On the outer edge boulders are piled up to stop the sea from undermining the base of the wall.

Material was placed behind the walls and topped with concrete slabs to create terracing.  This allows the water to run off and out through the drainage gaps on the lip of the sea wall.  The round concrete blocks on the wall provide access to the site drains.

I fondly imagined the terracing was intended to view spectacles out at sea or in Folkestone, firework displays or something similar, until I read one of the several information placards which told me the more mundane truth.

 This one described some of the birds I didn't see.  There were plenty of gulls though.

Somewhere halfway up this cliff is where the samphire grows, they say.  I didn't try to find out.  The little hut or shelter at the top is, I think, a view point from the North Downs Way which runs along the top of the cliff.  I'll save that one for another day.

This was the view from the road on the way home.  The cliff straight ahead is Shakespeare Cliff with Samphire Hoe below and to the west.  Dover harbour is straight ahead with one of the cross channel ferries about to leave.

Who would believe, on a day like this, that just a few days earlier the wind was so strong that they considered closing the harbour for a time.
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  1. What a beautiful day it looked like -- and wow, did you take full advantage of it to be out in beautiful country! :)

  2. Blue sky ans seaside! What could be better?
    Lovely, enjoyable and enlightening post!

  3. I love your photo essays. :) I learn so much. A picture is worth a thousand words, but I like the words too.

  4. What a gorgeous and scenic country side. Thanks also for all the info.

  5. Beautiful photographs!!
    I found you from Dona Nobis Pacem. I love your site. I’m going to poke around a little bit, but don’t worry I’ll put everything back where I found it!!

  6. @YTSL, it was a really beautiful day!

    @Adullamite, didn't last, did it? :(

    @Max, thanks. You're very kind.

    @Joanne, we're very lucky to have this here.

    @Kate, welcome! And thanks, I don't mind a little disturbance. It will do me good I think. :)


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