White cliffs of Dover to be bought by National Trust

The white cliffs
Image caption The white cliffs became a nationally known landmark during World War II

A section of the white cliffs of Dover is to be bought by the National Trust after it raised £1.2m in an appeal.

The 0.8 mile section will complete a five-mile stretch of coastline owned by the trust, between Dover port and South Foreland lighthouse.

Launched in June, the appeal reached its total two months earlier than expected.

The trust said the area is important to wildlife and is home to Kent's only kittiwakes.

The area of chalk cliffs have populations of Adonis blue butterflies and peregrine falcons and plants including oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot grow there.

Alison Burnett, a volunteer with the National Trust, said: "This chalky stretch of coastline symbolises so much for so many people and it's wonderful to think that we've managed to raise the money so that future generations can enjoy all that this unique place has to offer."

The appeal was supported by singer and World War II forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn who is famous for her wartime classic song (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover.

Other well-know figures who backed the trust's appeal included chef Rick Stein, actor Richard E Grant, yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur and comedian Paul O'Grady.

Kent resident Mr O'Grady said: "The white cliffs are Kent's most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts."

The trust manages the cliffs as chalk grassland, parts of which are grazed by Exmoor ponies to preserve the natural flora and support wildlife.

The public are able to walk along the cliffs from the visitor centre above Dover harbour to the lighthouse.

However, part of the stretch is privately owned and in places fields come close to the edge of cliffs, leaving just a narrow piece of land for the coastal path.

The cliffs are receding at an average rate of 1cm (0.4in) per year, but occasionally large chunks crash into the sea.

The National Trust, which acquired its first stretch of the white cliffs in 1968, looks after more than 720 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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