Scratch below the chalkface

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Dover is much more than a mere transit point. Chris Fautley reports on a walking tour of the town

If you think of Dover as just a town you pass through on the way to somewhere else, think again. A themed walk, inspired by SeaBritain 2005, explores many learning resources in this unique corner of England that can be used on-site and back in the classroom.

Start at the castle coach drop-off point. (Design and technology and geography: consider why a castle would be built here.) Walk down Castle Hill Road and continue into Castle Street to the Dover Museum. The star exhibit is an oak, Bronze Age boat. Dating from 1550BC, it is 10 metres long and 2m wide, and is held together by wooden wedges and yew stitching.

(DT and science: consider its design, and why it is so well-preserved.) Another must-see is a cache of Bronze Age axe and spear heads, recovered from a second wreck. (Geography: if this were a trading vessel, with whom might the crew have traded? And for what?) Leave the museum, walk to Townwall Street and cross into Wellesley Road. On the left is a mosaic map showing distances to continental ports. (Maths: convert these into metric measurements. Compare distances from Dover in percentage terms.) Turn left into Marine Parade to find a statue of CS Rolls, the first person to make a non-stop return flight across the Channel. (History: for what else was Rolls famous?) Continue north-east to the statue of Captain Webb, the first cross-Channel swimmer. (PHSE:how would a swimmer prepare for a crossing today?) Now back-track, and cross Wellesley Road into Waterloo Crescent, passing the statue of "The Waiting Miner". (Literacy: what might he be thinking?) Cross to the seaside and continue south-west. A little beyond is a section of armour plating from a German long-range gun at Calais. It records 84 of 2,226 shells fired at the harbour between 1940 and 1944. (Maths: on average, how many were fired each month?) Nearby, a monument commemorates the 300th anniversary of Charles II's landing in Dover upon the Restoration of the monarchy.

At the Hoverspeed terminal, turn on to Prince of Wales pier. Sir Christopher Cockerell landed close to this spot in July 1959 after completing the first cross-Channel hovercraft trip. (Science: consider how a hovercraft travels.) The terminal is where commercial hovercraft landed before they were withdrawn from service a few years ago. Walk to service.

On a clear day at least, you can see France from here. (Geography: use a compass to find Calais, bearing 123 degrees; and Boulogne, 166 degrees. At what bearing is Dover castle?) Finally, return to Wellington Crescent, where the walk ends.


DOVER CASTLE:tunnels and Roman lighthouse

Allow two hours. Some 3.5 miles of tunnel were dug here during the Napoleonic wars to accommodate 2,000 men. In the Second World War, the tunnels served as the base for planning the evacuation of Dunkirk and as a communications centre and military hospital. An operating theatre, dormitories and kitchen have been recreated. (Science: advantages and disadvantages of tunnelling through chalk. Drama: re-enact the scene as your 'little ship' arrives in Dover.) In the grounds, the 13m-high Roman lighthouse is probably Europe's tallest surviving Roman structure.(Maths: what shape is it? How effective might other shapes be?) WESTERN HEIGHTS NAPOLEONIC DEFENCES

Allow 90 minutes to visit these 19th-century fortifications, built to counter invasion. Climb the Grand Shaft staircase to the cliffs (entrance off Snargate Street). Or start at the car park on South Military Road (near Citadel Road) and walk north-east. The site is a scheduled ancient monument, a status awarded only after many other buildings had been demolished. (Citizenship: what have we lost through such destruction?) Continue north-east to a small car park, the site of Grand Shaft Barracks.

Adjacent is the Grand Shaft, a staircase of 140 steps through the cliff that allowed troops to reach the town below quickly. (Maths: the shaft's diameter is 26ft; what is its circumference?) Continue west to the defensive moats up to 15m deep and 9m wide. (Art: as an exercise in perspective, try sketching them. Citizenship: what are our responsibilities when visiting ancient monuments?) LANGDON CLIFF AND the WHITE CLIFFS VISITOR CENTRE

Allow one hour as the centre is a mile east of Dover. The visitor centre explains the flora, fauna and properties of chalk cliffs. There are some stunning views of the harbour, ferries and France. (Geography: consider the harbour's design. Why was it built here? Citizenship: consider the competing interests of the harbour and the delicate surroundings of the cliffs above.) OTHER DETAILS

The tour is best suited to upper KS2. Distance: 2.75 miles. Allow three hours, including one hour in the Dover Museum. Take pencils, paper, compass and a street map. A coach will be needed for optional visits, except the castle.Dover Museum: pound;1.25 per child. Entrance to Dover castle is free; tunnels by guided tour only. Advance booking is essential for the castle and tunnels.

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