I did have to pay to park the car but had I been on foot there would have been no charge. Of course there is nowhere remotely close by for parking at the Dover end of the cliffs. Maybe there is further along but that I don't know. A nominal fee of £3 isn't exorbitant in any case so I was perfectly happy, the facilities provided are good (lovely cakes!), and the cliffs are well maintained.
The car park, part of it anyway, over looks the cross channel Eastern docks at Dover. There is something mesmerising about watching the ferries arrive, manoeuvre into position, disgorge passengers and freight, re-load and depart, only to have the berths re-occupied within a very short time.
But I was here to see the cliffs so off I trotted. Not too fast because the paths, which were on at least three levels, were really quite rough and really quite close to the edge....
There were warning signs up about the recent landslip but that seemed rather like shutting the door after the horse had bolted. The result of the slide was easily visible from quite a distance.
Neither that nor the signs stopped people from looking closely.
I didn't notice anyone until I was going through these photos at home, and I've had to zoom as much as possible. If you click on the picture you should be able to make out a few foolhardy souls who had gone for a closer inspection of the landslip and appeared to be standing right on the edge.
The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the varieties of flora and fauna to be found on the chalk grassland. To maintain the grassland, the National Trust has brought in a number of Exmoor ponies to graze the land and keep over-vigorous grasses under control. The ponies looked at me with some suspicion but didn't run away.
I imagine they would soon move if anyone approached too closely but I don't know how tame they are. There are notices asking people not to feed the ponies.
The views are superb:
over the cliff tops
towards Dover Castle
and to the rocks below.
On a clear day, of course not this day, you should be able to see France.
The protected area continues over the cliffs to South Foreland Lighthouse and St Margaret's Bay, a route I'm saving for another day.