White Cliffs Festival launched at Walmer

Julius Caesar possibly first landed in Britain at Walmer in 55 BCE.  Nelson possibly sat at the viewpoint now known as Nelson’s Seat above Walmer to survey his fleet in Sandwich Bay. But the fourth White Cliffs Walking Festival was definitely launched on Walmer Green, just south of Deal in Kent, on 24 August.

I was delighted that I had been invited once again to open the festival, having launched the first one in 2014 on Dover seafront.  The festival alternates between Dover and Deal; both are Walkers Are Welcome towns, Dover having joined the family last year.  This year’s festival runs until 30 August.

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Right to left: Nick Tomaszewski, Charlie Elphicke, Margaret Lubbock and me

Margaret Lubbock, chairman of the White Cliffs Ramblers’ group which organises the festival, led the brief proceedings.  Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke spoke in support of public paths and against their abuse by 4x4s.  He mentioned that morning’s news-story: Public Health England was urging middle-aged people to walk for at least 10 minutes a day—a timely announcement for us.  The deputy mayor of Deal, Nick Tomaszewski, spoke of the benefits of the Walkers Are Welcome town.

3 banner

I said that the festival had put Kent firmly on the walkers’ map, it is a great celebration of all that Kent has to offer.  We can now enjoy the new coastal path and adjoining access land which have been opened between Camber and Ramsgate, with more soon to follow. By the end of 2020 we should be able to walk right around England’s coast.

Robert Peel and Peter Smith of Kent Ramblers have written an excellent guide to the Camber to Ramsgate section of the coast path to help us on our way.*

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Dover and Deal are both Walkers Are Welcome towns, in part encouraged by the festival on their doorsteps.  These towns attract walkers because of their excellent facilities and splendid surroundings, and their local economies are boosted accordingly.

The walking festival is growing rapidly, this year there were about 1,000 people signed up for the 42 walks.  The festival enables the Ramblers to show off their victories—paths saved and access won, and some of their frustrations with local authority funding cuts and threats of development.  Walkers through the week will see a range of issues and will enjoy some of the best countryside in Britain.

4 setting off

Setting off along Walmer seafront

It is thanks to the tireless work of Ramblers’ volunteers that so much has been achieved. I urged all present to support the Ramblers if they did not already do so, because we should not take our access for granted.

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The festival is open

After I had declared the festival open, we set off on walks of different lengths.  I shall write about this in another blog.

*The book is only £5.00 if you mention CampaignerKate’s blog when you order it from Kent Ramblers, 15 Woodland Way, Petts Wood, Orpington BR5 1NB.

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, campaigns, Coastal access, Public paths, Ramblers, Walkers Are Welcome Towns, walking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to White Cliffs Festival launched at Walmer

  1. A friend has provided the following information.

    If Caesar did land at Walmer in 55 BCE, it was the scene of the first spoken words recorded from England.

    According to the historian Tacitus the Brits were lined up to resist on top of the cliffs and the sea was roughish when the Roman ships approached. There was some reasonable reluctance by the legionaries to enter the water (in armour) and wade onto the beach, probably under fire. This reluctance, says Tacitus, was dispelled by the standard- bearer of the Tenth Legion who shouted: ‘Desalite, milites …’ — Jump for it lads, lest you shame the eagles …’ (on the standards and considered sacred by the Roman army).

  2. And here’s a bit more:

    This is from Book Four of Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico ( The Gallic Wars).

    And while our men were hesitating [whether they should advance to the shore], chiefly on account of the depth of the sea, he who carried the eagle of the tenth legion, after supplicating the gods that the matter might turn out favorably to the legion, exclaimed, ‘Leap, fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy. I, for my part, will perform my duty to the commonwealth and my general.’ When he had said this with a loud voice, he leaped from the ship and proceeded to bear the eagle toward the enemy. Then our men, exhorting one another that so great a disgrace should not be incurred, all leaped from the ship. When those in the nearest vessels saw them, they speedily followed and approached the enemy.

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