A little over a century ago, The Leas were the place to be seen along the south coast. Royal Ascot, Henley and the Boat Race might have carried more snob appeal, but Folkestone on the south east coast of Kent lured the rich and famous with its fine hotels, stunning sea views and benign climate was the fashionable coastal resort of choice (sorry Brighton). Indeed, The Leas were described by the prestigious Ward-Lock guidebook as “the finest marine promenade in the world”, and it is hard to argue with that even today.
The Metropole, Grand and Burlington hotels served the smart and wealthy set, and the bandstands by day and theatres by night entertained them, while the Leas Lift transported them to and from the seafront below. Great literary figures like Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells and John Ruskin either lived or stayed in the town on many occasions.
But there is much more to the Leas than a pleasant saunter amid the flower beds. The brilliant white “seaside” architecture (and the occasional modern monstrosity it has to be confessed), its crucial role in the Great War and its recent transformation into an open air art gallery, are all features of the mile and half long cliff top walk.
The tour, which lasts between two and three hours, consists of a leisurely stroll from the aforementioned great hotels to the Step Short Arch, the War Memorial and the Road of Remembrance, all of which commemorate the crucial role played by Folkestone in two world wars. History, art and architecture all figure prominently – and there are, of course, the wonderful views along the coast and across the France.
To make a booking go to the Tour Booking page.