This stunning stretch of coastline from Folkestone towards Dover is the only UK location to feature in the prestigious list. So, what is there to see and do?
The Lower Leas Coastal Park in Folkestone has more than a passing resemblance to a Mediterranean destination with its bold, botanical planting, outdoor artworks and sea views. Take a leisurely descent from Folkestone’s Victorian-era The Leas promenade down the Zig Zag Path, a man-made grotto-like route to the sea front. There’s a large, free adventure playground that will impress youngsters, who can explore its sandpits, slides and pirate ships.
Folkestone’s heritage as a fishing town now sits alongside its famous outdoor art collection – you’ll notice fishing boats in the harbour bobbing alongside Richard Woods’ brightly coloured Holiday Homes artworks (a legacy of the Folkestone Triennial outdoor art exhibition).
Stop off at the Fishing and Heritage Museum, tucked in the arches of The Stade. It’s packed with fascinating stories, artefacts and photos of the lives of the seamen who used to work out of Folkestone Harbour.
Take a walk along Folkestone Harbour Arm – whether you have the Lighthouse Champagne bar at the end of the Arm in your sights, or simply want to take in the view. This area is steeped in history – Channel steamers operated from here in the 1900s to the Continent. Folkestone played a key role during the world wars and in WW1 this was the departure point for hundreds of thousands of soldiers heading for northern France and Belgium, as well as 120,000 refugees landing from Europe.
In the Second World War, every boat in Folkestone took part in the Dunkirk evacuation – an estimated 35,000 troops and 9,000 refugees were landed here. Some 70 years later, The Harbour Arm has been reinvented and revived into a destination for food, drink and entertainment so a visit here blends old and new.
A few minutes from the seafront is Folkestone town centre, and Folkestone Museum in the town hall is a great year-round activity for every age. As you would imagine it tells the story of the local area through its vast collections – think dinosaurs, geology, Anglo-Saxons, right up to the present day.
Get hands on with the morse code tapper and learn about famous Folkestonians – including Walter Tull, the British Army’s first Black officer and who later became one of Britain’s first Black professional footballers; and physician William Harvey, whose discoveries on the full circulation of the blood changed medical history.
Also positioned high on the cliffs overlooking the English Channel at Capel-le-Ferne, The Battle of Britain Memorial is dedicated to the men who won the Battle of Britain in 1940. A visitor experience, including a visitor centre, replica aircraft and the poignant National Memorial to the Few and Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall make for a thought-provoking and educational visit.
Down the coast from Folkestone you have the market town of Hythe – with its historic high street and the Royal Military Canal which was constructed as a Napoleonic defence.
It stretches from Hythe for 28 miles to East Sussex and is now a destination for walking, cycling, fishing and boat trips. From Hythe you can also board the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway for a journey along the coastline that will take you back to a bygone era and will delight, well, anyone.
Beyond Hythe takes you to the atmospheric Romney Marsh and its pretty towns like New Romney, seaside destinations like Dymchurch, wild and inspiring Dungeness. This extraordinary place offers churches and sheep, bird watching and wild flowers and tales of smuggling. Romney Marsh Visitor Centre is a great place to start your visit when down this way.
Thanks to everyone who supported the making of this video:
This feature has been created with support of the Welcome Back Fund, a fund that is providing councils across England with a share of £56m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which supports the safe return to high streets and help build back better from the pandemic.