As a girl from Deal I have been lucky enough to live very near 4 castles. I’ve grown up visiting them and as such have never really appreciated my good fortune. Since having the children however, and more importantly, getting an English Heritage membership through the fella’s work, I have begun to appreciate them much more.
My children love to run around the gardens at Walmer Castle or sit on the canon and wage war on France at Deal Castle. So when I was offered the chance to stay at The Gate House my first thought was “Wow. The children will LOVE that.”
The Gate House is a small turretted Gothic Castle which was built in 1850 but has been converted into a miniature holiday home. The Gate House sits just down the hill from it’s larger counterpart Dover Castle and is believed to have been built as officers quarters.
We only live about 9 miles from Dover and at first I wasn’t sure about going, but the more I thought about it, the more perfect it seemed. We got to have a night or 2 away, without having to worry about the washing or the cleaning, and could use it as a way to explore Dover and the surrounds more. I went to school there and now work there, but knew it had some hidden gems which I was keen to exploit.
We arrived on the Friday afternoon and the children set about exploring our temporary home. The Gate House is small, but perfect for a family of 4 for a few days, or for a couple for longer (it would be a lovely romantic get away and in the guest book I read of several couples having their wedding night there) and is really well positioned as a base to explore East Kent. The children set themselves up in their rooms, unpacking their things into the ample storage and then wanted to go outside. There is a small garden but I supervised the children from the airy kitchen window, as the Gate House is positioned close to the road.
It was a beautiful spring evening so next we walked down the hill into Dover (a 5 minute walk at most) and treated ourselves to fish and chips. And, as is tradition in the Any Something household, we took our chips to the beach. The children climbed on the rocks and we watched the ferries sail in and out of the breakwater, threw some stones, and then wandered back to our lodgings.
Although the castle is fully equipped with all the appliances you might need for a longer stay, we didn’t use the TV that evening. The children got stuck into their castle themed craft packs that Michelle, the lovely owner, had kindly left them and then we made hot drinks and played some games – my Mum and Step dad even popped in from down the road to have a nose around!
In the morning we lazed around for quite a long time, reading and drinking hot tea, just enjoying the lack of distractions before setting off to explore for the day.
The Gate House is brilliantly placed to enjoy a number of local attractions, here are my top 5:
- Samphire Hoe – created using 4.9 million cubic metres of chalk from the excavation of the channel tunnel, Samphire Hoe provides some lovely walks along the coastline, is a great place to spot some wildlife and, most importantly has a great cafe! They also run some brilliant workshops for little people.
- The White Cliffs of Dover – this is a National Trust site, again with a cafe! It also has stunning views across the English channel and Port of Dover. Please be careful on the paths, but it offers some beautiful walks, including my favourite which takes you to South Foreland Lighthouse (and you guessed it, a great cafe !!)
- Deal Town – my home town. Beautiful independent shops, a lovely pebbly beach, an ice cream, a walk along the pier and a great Saturday market. Win.
- Kearsney Abbey – guess what?! A great tea rooms selling locally produced Solley’s ice cream. A park for the children, woods to explore and a great walk by the river and lakes. One from my childhood which I still love today.
- I’m cheating with the last one. ALL the castles. Technically it would be possible to visit Dover, Walmer and Deal Castles in one day but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to see all they have to offer. Walmer has beautiful gardens, Dover has the wartime tunnels to explore and a variety of events throughout the year.
The Gate House sleeps 2 in the fairy tale draped bed, but also a further two on the (very comfy) Chesterfield sofa bed.
During our stay we let the children share the bed upstairs, which meant that when they went to bed we could still potter around without disturbing them – although we were so tired from our evening walk and several games of Uno in front of the cosy fire, that we were in bed not long after them!!
There is a brilliantly fitted out kitchen, and everything you need for a cosy and comfortable stay at any time of the year.
Inside it’s more of a holiday cottage, but has touches of it’s fairy tale exterior such as the porch and dressing room, both situated within the turret.
The children absolutely loved our mini getaway and were very sad to leave. I think they’re now at an age where they will really remember it even though it was a short stay.
I can’t recommend The Gate House enough, and also the idea of a mini break close to home. It’s a great way to explore somewhere better, without all the travelling eating into your break.
*I was gifted this stay at The Gate House but would never endorse or promote anything that I didn’t really love*