It is a sensitive environment, subject to a number of modern-day threats including but not restricted to, gravel extraction, water extraction, damage caused by vehicles, horses, bicycles and by people intruding on to the gravel beds. Coastal defences also impact on the gravel beaches and vegetated beds as they may restrict the availability of new material by blocking the natural process of long-shore drift which would normally ensure a steady supply of gravel. From wild flowers such as yellow-horned poppy, to sea cabbage, sea kale, and sea fennel can be contained in a well-developed shingle bed such as the one in the photograph. They are is a joy to behold in full flower; a treat to experience in the case of seavfennel with its rich, aniseed-like aroma and we should all treat them with a bit more respect and avoid walking through them when at all possible.
Although it was overcast, it was still warm enough to be able to walk in t-shirt and shorts and the steep climb up the hill would have warmed us up anyway. We were walking on clear paths, sometimes grassy sometimes walking directly on the chalk bedrock below, so the walking was good and with the stunning views, provided a good start to a long day. Once up on the cliff it was fairly level walking and not at all taxing.
The land at Bockhill is also the location for the Dover Patrol Memorial, a seventy-five foot granite obelisk, erected in memory of the men who sailed in these waters during World War I and whose duties included protecting merchant marine vessels, hospital ships and troop transporters, as well as sweeping for mines, laying mines and turning their guns on the German forces in Belgium and France. Over two thousand lives were lost fulfilling these duties. Three monuments were erected, the other two located at Dover and Calais. Shortly after the memorial, we dropped down to St Margaret's Bay
The extensive range of fortifications on the heights were designed to protect the town of Dover, primarily from invasion by the French. The defences were begun in the late 1770's, extended during the Napoleonic Wars (1793 - 1815) and extended again between 1853 - 1870. Designed to protect against an expected invasion by the French, it eventually came to include the Drop Redoubt, Citadel and the Grand Shaft. The Citadel was most recently used as an immigration removal centre before being closed in 2015. The forts and the castle are linked by a series of ditches. The other major structure in the area is the Grand Shaft, which enabled troops and messengers to move between the town (castle) and hill without being exposed. Nearly eight metres in diameter, one hundred and forty feet deep over three staircases and with a long gallery connecting it to the town, it is an impressive structure.
As a protected site of special scientific interest the Warren is a haven for insects and butterflies with a small colony of grayling butterfly thriving here, the only one in Kent. Walking through the thick woodlands it remined me of sections of the forests I walked in last year in Australia on the Bibbulman Track. As beautiful as it is, it was a challenging walk with quite high temperatures in the enclosed forest sections where it was muggy and close. The path rolls up and down and with the rain it was quite muddy in places and hard to keep your feet.