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Folkestone

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Overview





Folkestone is a port town on the English Channel situated about five miles westward of Dover. A former cross-Channel ferry terminal, it is now used mainly by small fishing vessels and small boats that can dry out.

The harbour provides a tolerable anchorage in settled or offshore conditions in the deeper waters behind its long pier or in the adjacent bay. Best protection can be had by those who can take to the mud in the Outer Harbour. Access from seaward is straightforward provided that attention is paid to the rocks that lay off to the east of the harbour. During easterly gales, it is dangerous to enter Outer Harbour.



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Keyfacts for Folkestone
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for access

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
January 24th 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for access



 +44 1303 254597      +44 7401 627563     folkestoneharbour.com/      Ch.15 [Folkestone Port Information Service]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 4.560' N, 001° 11.693' E

This is the position of Folkestone Breakwater Light situated at the pierhead Fl(2)10s14m22M.

What is the initial fix?

The following Folkestone Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 4.500' N, 001° 12.000' E
This is 200 metres east-southeast of line of Folkestone Breakwater Light, Fl(2)10s14m22M. A bearing 304°T of South Quay Head, Q.G., leads in the fairway, close northeast of the harbour mole and southwest of Mole Head Rocks.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the southeast England’s Coastal Overview for North Foreland to the Isle of Wight Route location.

  • From the initial fix the line of bearing 304°T of South Quay Head leads in the fairway.

  • Prepare for a hard turn to port to pass through the Outer Harbour's entrance.

  • Vessels intending on anchor out should contact the harbour master on Ch. 15 [Folkestone Port Information Service].

  • Vessels can only lie alongside the wall with prior permission and a fender board.



Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Folkestone for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Dover - 3.4 miles ENE
  2. Ramsgate - 10.8 miles NNE
  3. Rye Harbour - 11.3 miles WSW
  4. Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne Marina) - 22.9 miles WSW
  5. Newhaven - 28.9 miles WSW
  6. Brighton - 32.1 miles WSW
  7. Shoreham - 35.1 miles WSW
  8. Littlehampton - 42 miles WSW
  9. Dell Quay - 48.1 miles W
  10. Chichester Marina - 48.5 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Dover - 3.4 miles ENE
  2. Ramsgate - 10.8 miles NNE
  3. Rye Harbour - 11.3 miles WSW
  4. Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne Marina) - 22.9 miles WSW
  5. Newhaven - 28.9 miles WSW
  6. Brighton - 32.1 miles WSW
  7. Shoreham - 35.1 miles WSW
  8. Littlehampton - 42 miles WSW
  9. Dell Quay - 48.1 miles W
  10. Chichester Marina - 48.5 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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How to get in?
Folkestone
Image: Michael Harpur


Folkestone Harbour is situated 13 miles northeast of Dungeness and 5 miles westward of the Port of Dover. A former cross-Channel ferry terminal, it is now used mainly by small fishing vessels and recreational craft. The port comprises a mole which extends out a ¼ of a mile from the shore in a generally east-southeast direction and Outer and Inner Harbours at the head of a bay. The two harbours are divided from one another by a railway viaduct.


Folkestone Harbour Breakwater's pretty granite lighthouse
Image: Pharma Mike via CC BY-SA 2.0


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in the southeast England’s Coastal Overview for North Foreland to the Isle of Wight Route location. From seaward East Cliff Martello Tower, a Motel, conspicuous from the east, and Folkestone Breakwater Light make conspicuous marks.


South Quay Head
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix the line of bearing 304°T of South Quay Head leads in the fairway, close northeast of the harbour mole and southwest of Mole Head Rocks after which a direct approach to the entrance can be made.


The primary danger to be avoided are the Mole Head Rocks that fringe the harbour. Beneath the conspicuous Martello Tower on Copt Point, atop of the first cliff eastward of Folkestone, lie the Copt Rocks. These are formed by drying ledges of sandstone, front the point and extend up to a ⅓ of a mile eastward into the bay. The ledge uncovers to almost 2 metres at low-water springs.


The Mole Head Rocks awash
Image: Michael Harpur


The Mole Head Rocks are a continuation to the westward of the Copt Rocks extending as far as 300 metres from Folkestone Mole. They uncover at 1.1 metres and a buoy (special) is moored at their west-southwest end. A submarine outfall extends south of the ledge and is marked, close southeast by a port light buoy, Fl. R.5s.

The Outer Harbour entrance is 38 metres wide and lies between the heads of South Quay and East Pier from which lights, lateral Q.R. & Q.G., are exhibited. The Outer Harbour entrance faces northeast, and the turn to line up for the entrance is sharp and requires considerable care.


The Outer Harbour at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location The harbour is best suited to vessels that can dry in the Outer Harbour. At high water springs, it has depths of about 5.5 metres MHWS at the entrance and 3.3 - 4.2 metres over the greater part. South Quay has a berth 78 metres in length capable of handling heavy lift cargoes. This is best avoided as it receives coasters and is beset with piles.


The Outer Harbour at low water note the South Quay's piles and the uneven bottom
alongside

Image: Michael Harpur


Inner Harbour, to the west of the railway viaduct, dries but has depths of about 4 metres at HW springs. Access is limited by the low clearance available under the viaduct and it is largely taken up with local vessels.

Inner Harbour at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels that cannot take to the ground can anchor in deep water inside the outer breakwater according to draft. The area is known to be foul so it is important to use a trip line, but it could provide a berth in the right conditions and an excellent tide wait location. If electing to anchor, it is advisable to speak with the harbourmaster to make sure you will not impede any scheduled freighters.

Yacht anchored out in deep water inside the outer breakwater
Image: Michael Harpur


There are three commercial berths along the northeast side of the harbour mole. The outer berth, which is about 150 metres long has depths of about 5 metres, and the two inner berths have depths of less than 2 metres. This maybe provide a possible option should the harbourmaster give permission and the vessel has a fender board to deal with the rough wall.

The inner wall of Folkestone's Harbour Mole
Image: Michael Harpur



There is good holding ground in East Wear Bay which lies between Abbot's Cliff and Copt Point a mile northeast. The shore of the bay is flat and covered with large stones which makes a landing difficult at low water. The bay is only sheltered from the west by Copt Point and Copt Rocks, and should therefore only be used as a temporary anchorage.
Please note

Prohibited anchorage. Four submarine power cables cross the Channel, buried to 1.5 metres, converge to land 400 metres west of Copt Point. Vessels are warned not to anchor in their vicinity and on no account cut them should they be fouled in any way.




Why visit here?
Although Kent was the first part of the British mainland to be conquered and settled by the invading Angles, Saxons and Jutes from the middle of the 5th century AD onwards, after the departure of the Romans, it was not until the late 7th century that the spelling Folcanstan appears. One suggestion is that this refers to Folca's stone; another suggestion is that it came from an Old English personal name, with the addition of stone, possibly meaning, in this context, "meeting place". It was not until the mid 19th century that the spelling of "Folkestone" was fixed as such, with the Earl of Radnor requesting that the town's name be standardised (although this tendency towards standardisation in the 19th century is true of English place names generally). Folkestone is often misspelt, variants including Folkston, Folkstone & Folkeston.


Folkestone Harbour at sunrise
Image: Barry Marsh


The area of Folkestone has been occupied since at least the Mesolithic era. A modest Roman-style villa was constructed over the Iron Age settlement sometime during the first century AD, followed by a more luxurious one in about 200 AD. The villa was abandoned sometime during the third or fourth century for unknown reasons.

In 597 AD, monks led by St Augustine arrived at Ebbsfleet on the Isle of Thanet, on a mission from Pope Gregory to re-Christianise Britain. He was greeted by the Anglo Saxon pagan King of Kent, Ethelbert and his Christian Queen, Bertha. Augustine was granted land in Canterbury where he built his church and outside the walls founded the monastery of St Peter & St Paul - now known as St Augustine's. Ethelbert was succeeded as Anglo-Saxon king of Kent by his son Eadbald, whose daughter Eanswythe refused all offers of marriage. In 630 AD, Eanswythe founded a nunnery on the site of her father's castle near Folkestone by the present Parish Church of St Mary & St Eanswythe.

Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe, in the town centre, contains the remains of
St Eanswythe, grand-daughter of Ethelbert of Kent

Image: Edgepedia via CC ASA 3.0
Eanswythe died c 640 AD and was quickly made a saint. Her remains were moved into the chancel of the current church on 12 September 1138, which has since then been commemorated as The Feast of St Eanswythe. They became the focus of prayer and pilgrimage such that Eanswythe was quickly adopted as the town's patron.

The community grew and developed into a monastery until it was dissolved by Henry VIII, and St Eanswythe's remains disappeared. They were rediscovered in June 1885 when workmen, carrying out alterations to the high altar, found a battered lead casket immured in a niche in the north wall of the chancel. Examination by archaeologists at the time and again in 1981 confirmed that the casket was of Anglo-Saxon origin and the few bone fragments were those of a woman in her early 30s. These relics are still housed in the church close to where they were discovered in the north wall of the chancel flanked by a pair of small brass candlesticks. St Eanswythe is celebrated on 12 September each year - the date on which her relics were moved to the present chancel. She also appears on the town's seal with William Harvey, the Folkestone-born, 17th-century physician who discovered the circulation of the blood.

A Norman knight held a Barony of Folkestone, which led to its entry as a part of the Cinque Ports in the thirteenth century and with that the privilege of being a wealthy trading port. At the start of the Tudor period, it had become a town in its own right. Wars with France meant that defences had to be built here and soon plans for a Folkestone Harbour began. At the beginning of the 1800s, a harbour was developed, but it was the coming of the railways in 1843 that would have the bigger impact.

Until the 19th century, Folkestone remained a small fishing community with a seafront that was continually battered by storms and encroaching shingle that made it hard to land boats. In 1807 an Act of Parliament was passed to build a pier and harbour which was constructed by Thomas Telford in 1809. By 1820 a harbour area of 14 acres (5.7 hectares) had been enclosed. Folkestone's trade and population grew slightly, but development was still hampered by sand and silt from the Pent Stream.

The Folkestone Harbour Company invested heavily in removing the silt but with little success. In 1842 the company became bankrupt, and the Government put the derelict harbour up for sale. It was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company (SER), which was then building the London to Dover railway line. George Turnbull was responsible in 1844 for building the Horn pier. Dredging the harbour, and the construction of a rail route down to it, began almost immediately, and the town soon became the SER’s principal packet station for the Continental traffic to Boulogne.

The harbour's use has diminished since the opening of the nearby Channel Tunnel and the stopping of local ferry services, but it remains in active use. The harbour's use has increased dramatically due to the construction of the 'Harbour Arm' which hosts cafés, pubs and bands.


What facilities are available?
Folkestone Yacht and Motorboat Club 01303 251574.


With thanks to:
eOceanic, UK Hydrographic Office


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




Folkestone Harbour, Kent
Image: eOceanic thanks Joshua Brown via CC BY-SA 2.0


Outer Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Joshua Brown via CC BY-SA 2.0


Inner Harbour at low water
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Outer Harbour at low water
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The Outer Harbour at low water - note the uneven bottom
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


South Quay Head's tide gauge
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Martello on Copt Point
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sunset over Folkestone's Breakwater Light
Image: eOceanic thanks Robert Manhire

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