Cliffe Fort

So we walked on from Shornemead Fort after another bag swap and looking on the map, it seemed like a half hour walk but we was looking at the wrong quarry… The right quarry that the fort is next to was a long walk around the sea wall. We felt like those explorers that you see in films, in a scorching desert! Below: Green marks Shornemead Fort, Purple marks where we thought it was and Orange marks where it was!

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In 1885, Cliffe Fort became the site of an experimental harbour defence system. In 1890, the following device was added. Called a Brennan guided torpedo, this lies to the north-west of the fort and was the worlds fire wire guided missile. Is was replaced 25 years later with quick firing guns, so it’s exciting to see that it remains today!

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After checking this out, we headed to the main site, hopping over the fence with a ‘man-made’ step. We then progressed to the glorious site that met our eyes! The map below (not ours) shows us the site in 1897.

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Walking along this walkway/rooftop we had the dilemma, up ahead, of getting down to the level where everything is on. After finding the best we, we decided just to take the plunge and jump. We’d face working our way up at the end! We walked along however we had to walk on the buildings (it was safe) as the area was waterlogged.

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When we were inside, we were greeted by an amazing corridor. Built up of bricks, this really gave the place a historic feel. Wondering through, this seemed to go on a very long way. Along it were the gun emplacements.

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We then came across this mystery thing below in which we wasn’t sure what it was so we couldn’t say in our video, however after reading an article on Underground Kent, they describe it as a ‘telescopic observation tower’.

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Below shows that part of the site that we had covered (not the top area) and we was now progressing to the south-east of the site.

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The photo below shows some of the original ceiling that remains. These were wood chips and some had fallen out however there fortunately wasn’t any signs of scorched ones.

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We then walked back to start (including climbing back up where we jumped down!) and with a couple of scrapes and scratches on us, we progressed to the very top. We come across this which is shown below however we’re not sure of it’s use. On the Kent History Forum, ‘Andrew401968’ states:

The coning tower / directing station is another mystery area, as the only solid information/evidence available is the physical remains on site at Cliffe, which consist of a concrete conical ring on the roof, and mental cylinder inside it, and runs down to the roof below (see the pictures posted by Kyn). There appears to be rails inside the cylinder. Below that is another hole, and then pit into which the tower must have retracted. Now this tower must have been heavy, and the means to retract must have used power, unless a system of counter weights where used. Could it have used the steam from the boiler to power postons?

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We then progressed onwards and sort of sneaked to the WWII Watchtower as there were workmen on the site next to us. What a watchtower does is pretty self explanatory!

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We got a fantastic round off to the site with the views from the tower. This was our last explore and we then exited the site and headed for quite a long walk to where we were camping. Being very exhausted, we must have walked for about an hour as we hunted for suitable land. We arrived at our area (we just settled with this bit!) at about 7pm and started to set up the tent. Problems:

  1. The ground was stony so the pegs wouldn’t stay in.
  2. We were all very exhausted and had to take care of our water supplies.
  3. Gnats absolutely loved us and wouldn’t leave us alone (with myself getting over 20 bites all over, ankles, fingers e.t.c)

This was the first day over and after roasting marshmallows, we then went to bed. Explore your way back to Beyond the Point soon for our fourth and final post! If you can’t wait, hop over to BTP TV to watch watch happened! If we are inaccurate at any point in this article or you know more about a feature of the site, please don’t hesitate to contact us by dropping a comment on this article!

Sources: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1594.0 and http://www.undergroundkent.co.uk/cliffe_fort.htm

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