The Grand Shaft
The Grand Shaft
4.5
See what other travelers are saying
  • SteveL_Canterbury
    Canterbury, United Kingdom154 contributions
    A fascinating piece of the history of Dover.
    A really interesting and impressive piece of engineering over 200 years old. The triple helix staircase just shows how clever the architecture of the era was. The two guides at the shop at the lower entrance were really knowledgeable.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 25, 2022
  • Donsafe
    Canterbury, United Kingdom1,054 contributions
    Unfortunately Closed in Winter!
    Unfortunately when we came, the steps were closed so we will have to return. But the walk around the surrounding area was a delight. Dover gets neglected as a tourist destination as well as by locals. It has far more to offer than people realise. We spent a wonderful day here in February. Really well worth the visit for people of all ages and plenty on offer in the rest of Dover.
    Written March 5, 2020
  • slumberjumper
    Folkestone, United Kingdom117 contributions
    Wow some stairway
    This wonderful feat of engineering consists of basically two staircases one inside the other going up to the Western Heights; the reason why there are two staircases is so the Officers and their Wives can use the Staircase without seeing or meeting the rough and smelly soldiers on the way up or down, can you imagine this happening today, but in those days unless you were an Officer you were just cannon fodder , there are a few ghosts here but most of them were as drunk as a skunk and fell down the stairs. No change in 2014 is there
    Traveled solo
    Written October 18, 2014
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
52 reviews
Excellent
31
Very good
15
Average
3
Poor
2
Terrible
1

cinemajim
Oxted, UK215 contributions
Feb 2017 • Friends
Another part of the Western Hts - the main entrance! a very cleaver construction - 3 spiral saircases straight up to the old parade ground. 3 separate stailcases so that Officers, NCOs and the troops would never meet on the stairs!!!
Written April 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Gra475
London, UK15 contributions
Oct 2013 • Family
Took the kids to see the grand shaft and was surprised to find lots of reinactment going on with soldiers and others from Napoleonic, WW1 and WW2 times. Parked down at the harbour and went up the shaft to the fort.The Grand shaft is worth a visit on its own, truly unique and great fun racing the kids on different staircases. the soldiers and gun fire really brought the fort to life. The cannon nearly burst my eardrums. The shaft and outside of fort are free but entry to the middle bit of the fort is free for kids and adults £4, which made it a great value day. The shaft and middle part of the fort is only open on special days so worth looking out for.
Written October 21, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Margaret H
Dover, United Kingdom105 contributions
This is an amazing piece of our history. Why is it not open more often? Why does nobody promote it more? It's incredible!
Written November 27, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Darren W
Canterbury48 contributions
May 2016 • Family
Open for only a few days of the year :(

I already knew about this place...and on 'going down' I had to do a 'Double Take'!!!

The race back to the top with someone else on one of the other spirals is definitely 'a bit of a larff'!!

What's wrong with Britain that this amazingly Historic space is not open for Public Access every single second of every single minute of every single day!!

Rant over...Just keep your eyes open for visiting on an 'Open Day' :D
Written June 20, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

BobR16
Sheerness, UK79 contributions
May 2015 • Friends
Had driven past this hundreds of times decided to visit it with a few friends and i was well impressed ,a little gem hidden away just for the fun of it i have returned and done all three staircases. In fact i was so impressed it convinced me to join a group helping to keep it open
Written October 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Usansay
Kent, UK38 contributions
Sep 2015 • Couples
Visited the Grand Shaft ,on a Heritage open weekend. Although I was aware it existed, I have never seen it before. It is a set of three staircases which start together at the bottom of a cylindrical building go between the two cylinders using separate routes and then end at the top together. The used of the steps changed over time. It said on one of the plackards that they were built so that more soldiers could get from the barracks to the sea at the same time during a time of war. Then at another time The officers and their ladies used one staircase, the sargeants and their wives another and the soldiers and their women a third.
If, like me, you are not fit, the 198 stairs going up gets quite tiring.

The view looking up from the bottom is quite amazing given that it is all done with natural light. It opens out to the cliff top and details of the use of Grand Shaft are written both at the top and at the bottom of the staircase in various languages on display boards.
Written September 14, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

martin c
Dover, UK6 contributions
Jul 2014 • Friends
One of the most amazing feats of engineering. A triple helix staircase dropping down 120 feet through the chalk to the old wharf's Not to be missed.
Written September 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Gary P
Dover, UK299 contributions
Sep 2012 • Family
Sadly the Grand Shaft and Drop Redoubt are only open on certain weekends and open days. It is owned by English Heritage, but all maintenance and operations are undertaken by local "Western Heights Preservation Society".
If English Heritage made more of an effort the Western Heights could be an amazing attraction rivalling that of Dover Castle...
Written November 5, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SparklyCullen
Lincoln, UK71 contributions
Mar 2011
This historical monument was used to get soldiers from the top to the bottom of the White Cliffs of Dover during a crisis.Therefore, a set of three intertwined spiral staircases were built for easy access. Now disused, graffitied and centuries old, these staircases have lost the attraction that would entertain a person visiting Dover. It takes about ten minutes to run to the bottom, or about fifteen minutes to walk. You cannot see the bottom when you are standing at the top, which causes some amusement. The tour was frankly boring, lasting about an hour and seeming pointless. There is no cafe or toilets nearby, but it is a five minute drive into Dover town centre. It has a historical importance so should be visited, but I would not spend more than half an hour there.
Written June 6, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

kawakent
Westerham, UK27 contributions
Sep 2017 • Couples
Is it a helix? good fun for family - each can take a different stairway. Fair old climb to the top though
Written August 22, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Showing results 1-10 of 48
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing

The Grand Shaft, Dover

Frequently Asked Questions about The Grand Shaft