Thursday 29 September 2022
Our Wild Wheelers spent a beautiful morning exploring Fort Burgoyne.
Walk Leader Gini Mitchell talked about the Fort's important role as protection for nearby Dover Castle - 'the key to England'.
She shared insights into military history, along with a closer look at Victorian Architecture. We envisioned life in the barracks throughout the centuries for officers and lower ranks.
Exploring the officers' mess revealed their wine storage room - almost as large as a room in which 18 lower rank soldiers had slept. A support walker was able to point out items of interest, such as dilapidated wall stencilling worthy of Laura Ashley that was above Wheelers' eyelines.
Gini explained how nature had taken back a foothold after the military use ended. We learnt how the White Cliffs Country Partnership works to manage the wildlife surrounding the structure of the Fort, and why The Land Trust was endowed to restore and maintain the site.
We took time to appreciate the wildlife, listening to the birds, insects, and the rustling of the leaves in the trees. We heard green woodpecker, a cricket, and bees. We spotted greenfinch, dunnock, small copper and common blue butterflies, and a ladybird snuggled in the silvery centre of a knapweed seed head. We had reptilian sightings too, in the form of a lizard and a slow worm.
One derelict room, which still bears numbers for gun positions, featured both stalactites and stalagmites - an unusual sight for Kent.
At a beautifully created log circle, our Story Facilitator Karen Hart shared tales of the supposed ghosts of Dover and other castles. Our group was an even balance of sceptics and people with a belief in the supernatural, and we wondered if Fort Burgoyne had any ghosts. No one felt that we had encountered any - but we hadn't been down in the depths of the tunnels beneath our feet after dark ...
We agreed this was a tranquil location despite its military history and prime position to protect against invasion in the two World Wars.
After a fun and informative visit, we look forward to seeing how the site will develop under the care and attention of The Land Trust. We will be back soon.
#accessiblenature #historicalmonument #VictorianArchitecture #victoriantiles #accessibilitymatters #inclusionmatters #victorianfort
Thanks to Kent Downs AONB, Land Trust White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, Visit White Cliffs Country - Dover, Deal and Sandwich.
📸 photo credit: Gini Mitchell
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