13. Diary Entry: Hiking

Dear diary,

Today’s program on the excursion was the trip to Dover. Having arrived there, we had two options – either to visit Dover Castle or to go on a hiking trip with Tom along the cliffs of Dover to Beal. I chose the latter as every time I have been to England, I visited Dover Castle and got to know nearly everything about it: its history from the beginning in the medieval times to the modern age when its underground tunnels were used as storage in World War II. Therefore, I found the hiking trip to be more appealing than visiting Dover Castle again; besides, unlike every stereotype there is, we actually had really nice weather in England. That is why I chose to accompany Tom on his hiking trip.

The trip in itself did not include a guided tour or anything comparable like it was done in the castle of Dover. We simply walked for around five hours starting in Dover and working our way to Beal where we reunited with the rest of our student group. However, dear diary, this does not mean that the hiking trip was boring. On the contrary, it was on the one hand quite calming as our group was quite small just consisting of 15 people and on the other hand, it was completely breathtaking as we got to see the cliffs of Dover. Thanks to the nice weather, we were actually able to enjoin the view. The first part of the road took us along the white cliffs of Dover, with the city’s port and its castle in the background. Eventually, that scenery faded in the background and we just walked along or rather on the cliffs. That was something I really enjoyed because the pace of the group was not too fast, so that we could leisurely stroll and savour the atmosphere. After all, we were surrounded by green fields on top of the cliffs and during the first part of the trip, by some wild horses. We kept our distance, not because we were told to do so, but because the only somewhat annoying aspect was that they left their digestive remains on the track which was at sometimes a bit distracting.

In the end, we descended from the cliffs after a two and a half hours walk to have a little pause at a beach in a little village whose name I have forgotten. Unfortunately, right then the sky clouded over, so most of us decided not to put their feet into the water. Some did though and we had a great time just joking around, for instance about the habit of one guy to collect a bottle of sand of every beach he had been to. That was something I really enjoyed about this day’s trip. Since we were supposed to meet up with everyone else in Beal, Tom started to get a little impatient and urged us to continue. So we left the little village and climbed back up the white cliffs. Oh, it was not as barbaric as that, after all we only had to walk narrow and steep stairwells. But having arrived at the top, we could once again enjoy the atmosphere. While the first part of our walk was a bit tiring as it followed the top of the cliffs, during the second part, we just slowly descended from the cliffs towards the coast city of Beal. The last one and a half miles, we just strolled along the beautiful beach. And this time, unlike during our first pause, we actually could enjoy the sunshine. During that time, our group actually stretched itself over a long distance as some walked slower, some faster and some stopped along the way to play with the dogs who were taken out for a walk by their owners. We were all glad about this last part of the road for after five hours of walking, we started to feel its effects. Still, we were able to manage as Tom did not leave us behind – from what I have earned, he is an incredible sportsman. I doubt the hiking trip would have been as much fun if Tom had pressed ahead at full speed. Be that as it may, during the actual trip, he was a great companion as well, making jokes and just enjoying the walk.

Actually, we arrived in Beal half an hour earlier than expected. Therefore, we had some free time to spend before reuniting with the rest of the group. While some decided to hunt for a pub to get a beer to drink and some went to search for a supermarket as their water supply had run out, I wanted to grab something to eat as the long walk had left me with a raging hunger. Since some guys in our group were hungry as well, Oliver, Sascha, Kai and I decided to eat fish and chips. After all, when we arrived in the little city, the fish and chips restaurant “The Blue Mermaid” was advertised to be the best one for miles around. Consequently, we went there and I have to admit that the visit there concluded the five hour walk quite nicely: I ate the best fish and chips of my whole life. This means of course drowning my chips in salt and vinegar as well as having mushy pies. What more do I need to say? It was awesome! Unhealthy yes, but it tasted great nevertheless. However, I doubt that I would be able to eat just fish and chips, but for some days I would definitely be able to indulge. After having eaten our lunch, we teamed up with some others and just sat down in a pub to relax somewhat before getting back on the bus. And truth be told, even the ride back on the bus was satisfying for me: After all, I instantly fell asleep and could thus replenish some of my forces for the upcoming trip to Eastbourne on the next day. That is why, dear diary, the trip to Dover Castle and the ensuing hiking trip with Tom was one of my favourite activities during the excursion to Canterbury.

I’ll write something else soon.