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White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover, part of the North Downs formation, is the name given to the region of English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliff face, which reaches a height of 106 metres (348 ft), owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. The cliffs, on both sides of the town of Dover in Kent, stretch for 13 kilometres (8 mi). A section of coastline encompassing the cliffs was purchased by the National Trust in 2016.

The cliffs are part of the Dover to Kingsdown Cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.


The cliffs are part of the coastline of Kent in England between approximately 51°06′N 1°14′E / 51.100°N 1.233°E / 51.100; 1.233 and 51°12′N 1°24′E / 51.200°N 1.400°E / 51.200; 1.400, at the point where Great Britain is closest to continental Europe. On a clear day they are visible from the French coast. The chalk cliffs of the Alabaster Coast of Normandy in France are part of the same geological system.

The White Cliffs are at one end of the Kent Downs designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 1999 a sustainable National Trust visitor centre was built in the area. The Gateway building, designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, houses a restaurant, an information centre on the work of the National Trust, and details of local archaeology, history and landscape.


About 70 million years ago Great Britain and much of Europe was submerged under a great sea. The sea bottom was covered with white mud formed from fragments of coccoliths, the skeletons of tiny algae that floated in the surface waters and sank to the bottom during the Cretaceous period and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed muddy sediments. It is thought that the sediments were deposited very slowly, probably half a millimetre a year, equivalent to about 180 coccoliths piled one on top of...

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