One of our favourite places in England, where we return very often, is East Cliff and Warren Country Park in Folkestone, Kent. The charming little Warren beach is surrounded by beautiful coastal vegetation, through which a narrow path winds and from where you get a spectacular view of the sea and one of the three Martello Towers in Folkestone, from the Napoleonic era. You will usually see many families with children who are fossil hunting (Warren is one of the most important geological areas in Britain), but also people with their dogs. The beach allows dogs, unlike Folkestone’s other beaches! And what’s more, it is a rather secluded, quiet place without crowds. All in all, East Cliff and Warren Country Park is on our list of our favourite places in England!
We discovered this place about four years ago by accident when we were randomly looking for dog-friendly beaches in reach of London. But we had no idea that we were going to a place with an incredibly long history (up to 300 million years) whose traces you can spot as footprints in the wild natural landscape of Warren.
The place really radiates a unique energy and the whole character of the landscape is absolutely charming. You can even spot many plants which still grow there whose origins lie in the prehistoric Cretaceous period. Just imagine that those little horsetails that you can see growing wild along the beach once reached the size of trees! As well as being important for their geology and countless plant species, East Cliff and Warren Country Park are home to an important number of animal and bird species (up to about 150 species of birds live in the area), making Warren Beach a popular destination for nature enthusiasts.
This place has great sentimental significance for us, because we have been visiting since we got our dogs, kept going throughout my pregnancy and today we come here with our two-year-old son. It’s amazing to return to the same place and see your family grow!
We always park near Martello Tower I and walk about a mile, first on the road (on our first trip we had to ask the locals how to get to the Warren beach) and after a while there’s a public footpath that leads directly to East Cliff. The journey along the cliffs is truly adventurous, and everyone will appreciate the view of the unusual character of the landscape. The zig-zag footpath winds between cliffs and it’s great fun to watch running dogs until they disappear until you can see only their tails on the horizon, like two flaming flags.
We often sit on the highest hill on the cliff and just enjoy our free time together. Just a view of the sea and cliffs, and the fresh air of the sea recharges you with positive energy! We then take the zig-zag footpath to the beach, where our dogs Tony and Charlie love playing fetch with tennis balls in the sea. But we always keep an eye on them so that they don’t drink salt water because it is toxic to dogs, and we give them our water if it’s hot and if they’re thirsty. The rest of the time, we play with them on the sandy beach. At low tide the whole beach opens out in front of you.
You may wonder why most people on the beach are staring at the ground, apparently looking hard for something! At first, we thought that people were looking for shells or that they were treasure hunters, but eventually we realised they were looking for fossils, as this place is unusually rich in prehistoric fossils and for this reason the area is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and protected as a Local Nature Reserve.
Lucas really enjoyed our last trip to Warren, collecting sand in his shovel and building a sand castle with Daddy, repeating the words: ‘Dig, dig, digging!’ It was so lovely watching him playing on the beach and making more progress since the last time we were there.
There is also a wide concrete path under the cliffs, where you can walk undisturbed, and which leads to a campsite with the distinctive name ‘Little Switzerland’. Indeed, the character of the landscape is a bit like a small-scale Switzerland, because the zig-zag footpath over the overgrown East Cliff resembles a small mountain hike rather than the classic English clifftop coastal path!
What are your favourite dog-friendly beaches?