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An image of visitors climbing a ladder to one of the Langdon Lights, set into The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent on a sunny day
Visitors descending the iron-rung ladder to the beach at Langdon Stairs. | © National Trust Images/Solent News and Photography Agency
Kent

White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre to Langdon Stairs Trail

Follow this walk to discover Langdon Stairs - most likely an ancient smuggling trail that was also used by coastguards in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Your walk will take you to the 6-section zig-zag path down Langdon Cliff and the 7-metre near-vertical iron-rung ladder leading to the stony beach. There's lots of wildlife around, so see if you can spot kestrels, peregrines and buzzards all of which live nearby.

Important information before you set out

Ask in the Visitor Centre for tide times before setting out, as the beach and the bottom of the iron rung ladder are submerged at high tide. This walk takes you close to the cliff edge. Once at the viewing point and on the zig-zag path there is a hand rail in places, but other parts of the cliff edge are not fenced and some people may need assistance. Check where the waves are breaking before descending the ladder. Stay in sight of the ladder all the time when on the beach as there is a risk of being cut off by the tide. You may not have a mobile phone signal on the zig-zag path or on the beach.

Total steps: 8

Total steps: 8

Start point

TR 3363 4221, www.what3words.com/clip.spray.repeat, postcode CT16 1HJ

Step 1

Stand at the shop end of the Visitor Centre with your back to the shop and the harbour on your right hand side. Walk through the disabled car parking to the road. Bear slight right to join the road walking in the same direction, keeping the sea on your right hand side. Walk to the gate in front of you.

Step 2

Go through the pedestrian gate and stay on the gravel path to go up the hill in front of you, keeping the sea on your right. Continue until you reach the gate at the top of the hill.

Step 3

At the top, you can admire the classic view of Langdon Cliffs and you may be able to make out the iron-rung ladder at the bottom of the cliff, which forms part of this trail, and the shipwreck. Now go through the gate and stay on the surfaced path.

Step 4

The path will now start to descend steeply into Langdon Hole. Continue down the slope and steps to the bottom of the hill, then stay on the surfaced track. As you reach the far side of Langdon Hole, you will start to ascend and will reach a pedestrian gate.

Step 5

Go through the pedestrian gate then immediately turn right and leave the surfaced path. Head down the hill on the unmade path on the seaward side of the fence, seen on the right in the photo. Keep left, go down the steps, and still keeping left, look out for the concrete viewing platform with a hand rail in front of you.

Image of a footpath leading to a pedestrian gate in a field on top of the White Cliffs of Dover
View of pedestrian gate approaching step 5 | © National Trust/Richard Meadows

Step 6

At the viewpoint, when facing the sea, the entrance to the zig-zag path is on your left. There is a handrail in some sections and the path is eroded in places - some people may need assistance. Some of the turns at each end of the zig-zag paths are steep and may require hand-holds. On the final zig-zag you will enter a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel is a World War I searchlight position.

Image of the zig-zag path leading to the beach at Langdon Stairs on a bright sunny day
The zig-zag path at Langdon Stairs | © National Trust/Richard Meadows

Step 7

Go outside from the searchlight position onto the landing for the iron-rung ladder. Please ensure you know the tide times and where the waves are breaking before starting to descend, as the bottom of the ladder can be completely submerged at high tide. When descending, we recommend facing the cliff and going down backwards as this will give a better foothold. Depending on how the sea has shifted the shingle, there may be a large step off the ladder onto the beach.

Step 8

While on the beach, be aware that the high tide can come right up to the cliff and there is a risk of being cut off. Please keep the ladder in sight at all times. Unusually large waves can occur, caused by weather or shipping movements. At low tide feel free to explore the wreck and the beach.

Image of the wreck of the Falcon - only the lower ribs of the hull are left.
The wreck of the Falcon, beached in 1926 following a fire. | © National Trust Images/Solent News and Photography Agency

End point

TR 34501 42478, what3words.com/towels.dangerously.taker. There is no postcode for this location.

Trail map

Image of a map of the route from the White Cliffs Visitor Centre to Langdon Stairs
Map of the route from the White Cliffs Visitor Centre to Langdon Stairs | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Langdon Cliffs, Upper Road, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HJ

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