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Facts about The Cliffs of Dover for Kids

The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 350 feet (110 m), owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk accentuated by streaks of black flint.

  • The cliffs spread east and west from the town of Dover in the county of Kent, an ancient and still important English port.
  • The cliffs have great symbolic value for Britain because they face towards Continental Europeacross the narrowest part of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard.
  • Because crossing at Dover was the primary route to the continent before the advent of air travel, the white line of cliffs also formed the first or last sight of the UK for travelers.
  • The cliffs are located along the coastline between approximately: Latitude 51°06’N, Longitude 1°14’E and Latitude 51°12’N, Longitude 1°24’E.
  • The cliffs are composed mainly of soft, white chalk with a very fine-grained texture, composed primarily of coccoliths, plates of calcium carbonate formed by coccolithophores, single-celled planktonic algae whose skeletal remains sank to the bottom of the ocean during the Cretaceous and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed sediments.
  • White cliffs like those of Dover are also found on the Danish islands of Møn and Langeland and the island of Rügen in Germany.
  • The cliff face continues to weather at an average rate of 0.39 in per year, although occasionally large pieces will fall.
  • This occurred in 2001, when a large chunk of the edge, as large as a football pitch, fell into the channel.
  • Several species of cliff nesting birds nest on the cliff face, including fulmar and colonies of Black-legged Kittiwake.
  • However, contrary to the words of the famous song (“There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover”), bluebirds are an American species not found in the UK.