Natural England - Folkestone Warren (SSSI)

Folkestone Warren (SSSI)

Location and Access Information
Grid Reference: TR 276386

This coastal section, comprising steep chalk cliffs and foreshore exposures is located just to the east of Folkestone. The eastern part of the site, particularly the cliffs exposing the Gault Clay and the Folkestone Beds, can be accessed from the seafront at the eastern end of Folkestone where car parking is available near to the golf course. The main mass of the Warren and the landslip can be accessed by steps that lead down the cliff from Capel-le-Ferne.

Geological Interest

The coastline between Folkestone and Dover exposes rocks of Cretaceous age (142-65 million years old), including two rock exposures of particular importance. The series of cliff sections at the western end of the site, with some 50m of Folkestone Beds (Lower Greensand) and Gault, represents the most important single locality for studying these rocks in England. The Gault Clay exposures in East Wear Bay yield beautifully preserved fossils, including ammonites, bivalves and crabs and have also produced the fossilised remains of a number of types of marine reptiles including turtles, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurus and pliosaurs.

The high chalk cliffs at the back of the Warren, are largely inaccessible, but are an internationally important reference site providing extensive and nearly continuous cliff and shore exposures of the Cenomanian, Turonian and Coniacian Stages of the Cretaceous Period (Lower, Middle and early Upper Chalk). The site is historically very important as many geological principles, such as using fossils as means of correlating rock sections were tested here during the early development of geology.

Folkestone Warren itself consists of a series of landslides which includes both Chalk and Gault, and has probably been more intensively studied than any other landslide of comparable size in Great Britain. This is largely because it is crossed by the main Folkestone-Dover railway line, which on occasion has been displaced by slipping (notably in 1915), creating an immediate demand for detailed studies and monitoring. The site has suffered twelve major slips since 1765, and is now protected by a complex of coastal defence works.