- From - To: London to Hastings via Dover
- Distance: 171.5 miles. London to Dover is 119.5 miles; Dover to Hastings is 52 miles.
- Terrain: Various
- Access: Various
- National Cycle Network: National Routes 1 and 2
This beautiful route travels between London and Hastings, but for those wanting a shorter journey you could break the ride at Dover.
1. London to Dover
The route starts in Greenwich and takes you on a traffic free path along the Thames, past the Thames Barrier and onto Dartford.
The route continues onto Gillingham, Sittingbourne and Faversham. From here you head towards Whitstable where you join the largely traffic-free Crab and Winkle Way. This section of the route does feature some hills, with a 61m (200ft) climb into Canterbury. However, there are fine views over Whitstable from the highest point of the ride.
Leaving Canterbury you travel through Fordwich, Britain's smallest town and then the route follows the coast to Sandwich and Deal before arriving in Dover.
2. Dover to Hastings
Starting in Dover, with its famous white cliffs, this section of the route travels all the way down the Kent coast, providing you with fantastic views.
Between Dover and Folkestone (known locally as the Chalk and Channel Way) you can take a short detour to Samphire Hoe, a land mass that reaches out into the English Channel which was created from the material from digging the Channel Tunnel. It's a great place to spot wildlife and a good picnic spot.
The cliff top path then descends to Folkestone Harbour and Hythe, where it follows the Royal Military Canal, built as a supply route and line of defence in Napoleonic Wars, before crossing Romney Marsh into Sussex.
The route passes two other ports; Rye, with its history of smuggling, and Winchelsea. The descent into Hastings is on minor roads with views over the old town and the English Channel.
For the London section of the route please order the TfL cycle maps of London.
Extending the route: There is the opportunity to venture west of Dover and link up with the Downs and Weald Route, offering the possibility of combining the Downs and Weald with the Garden of England to complete a round trip from London for a 239 mile journey.
Things to see and do
The Chalk and Channel Way is a Sustrans Art Trail between Dover and Folkestone, artists Jony Easterby, Pippa Taylor, Rob Kestler and Tim Clapcott produced artworks inspired by the surrounding landscape, including the iconic 'Samphire Tower'.
Samphire Tower, by Jony Easterby and Pippa Taylor, is a 33ft larch and oak tower on Samphire Hoe inspired by coastal buildings and mini-architecture around the UK. Internal wall paintings by Sax Impey reflect nautical charts, navigational and marine communication systems. It also houses a telescope which triggers 8 symphonies composed by Jony Easterby in collaboration with musician Geir Jenssen that sample the wind, noises from the tunnel, trains, birds and other localised sounds.
Flora Calcarea by Rob Kestler is inspired by the special flora of the South Downs. It focuses on specific plants and their magnified pollen grains cast in bronze as discrete roundels and set into the path as waymarkers. They also depict pages, as if blown from the stone reference books (a herbivorum) sited at either end of the path. Other pages are set into ‘boulder’ seats made from Portland Roach, a shelly Oolitic Limestone, sited over-looking the sea.
Coccoliths by Tim Clapcott are developed landform pieces based on ‘microscopic coccoliths’ (the skeletons left by millions of extinct plankton), which form the white cliffs. The artist cast enlarged coccolith forms in concrete with ceramic insets and placed them in an excavated circular seating area on Smallpox Hill over-looking Folkestone harbour.
Chalk Lines by Ros Barber is a series of 10 site specific poems in response to landmarks along the path, recited by the poet herself and accessed by dialling the phone number 0870 626 0010 which is inscribed on finger posts along the route.
To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure you follow the Towpath Code.
Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.
The route follows the coast to the Cinque port of Sandwich to the north of Dover, and to Hythe and Romney to the south.