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.
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.
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.*
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.
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.
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.