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Lower Leas Coastal Park

Lower Sandgate Road Folkestone Kent CT20 2JP

There are parks – and then there are parks. And Folkestone’s Lower Leas Coastal Park is something again. Ranged across the cliff face, above the beach and below the road, this is one of the most beautifully landscaped green spaces you’ll find anywhere, with a terrific adventure playground for the kids and lots of secluded, tranquil corners for everyone else.  In Folkestone’s Victorian heyday the cliff face here was scythed through by a promenade where tourists would perambulate to enjoy the sea air; today, while locals are fully aware what a gem they have on their doorstep, Lower Leas is landscaped sensitively enough that it manages to feel peaceful even on the sunniest days. There are three main zones: in the east, the park sets off from the wonderful old Leas Lift – a Victorian cable car that hauls its way up the cliffside from the seafront to the road high above. The lift, along with the extravagently indented zig-zag path further to the west and a couple of narrow, steep staircases hidden in the trees, allow you to clamber up to the road or down to the sea. Heading west from the lift you can follow narrow paths and cross small bridges, resting awhile on the well-worn hand-carved benches and gazing out to sea, or settling down at any one of the designated picnic tables and barbecue areas. Beyond an outdoor amphitheatre, which hosts free live performances in summer, the Lower Leas adventure playground, shaded by a tangle of tall trees, is a delight. It’s big, and really quite thrilling, with a pirate ship, zip lines, climbing nets and exciting tube slides; beyond here, even with excited kids carousing about, the park manages to feel peaceful. To the west things get increasingly quiet and a little wilder; abundant flowering shrubs and trees fringe the winding paths, the greenery framing the glorious sea vistas.

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