Desolate Dungeness… Or Is It?

Travelling out to the coast over the Bank Holiday weekend it was time to tick off one of the destination’s on my very long bucket list of places to visit in the UK, Dungeness in Kent.

A vast area of shingle that juts out into the English Channel, Dungeness is probably best known for it’s two nuclear power stations – one is now decommissioned but the other is scheduled to keep providing power to the south east until at least 2018. Sure enough, they loom over the landscape and their constant hum is ever present unless you’re standing right out at the water’s edge, but they’re not all that Dungeness is about. If you cast your gaze in other directions you’ll find yourself in an amazing landscape…

One surprising thing that you’ll discover if you visit Dungeness is that it is still very much a working home for fisherman – you can see several large vessels lined up at the top of the shingle banks above the foreshore. The fishing trade has left its mark on the landscape in other ways too, as the forgotten remnants of previous generations still litter the beach – here and there you’ll come across collapsing huts, big blocks of rusting machinery and the decaying hulks of old ships, which give the area a rather eerie post-apocalyptic air…

To its credit, Dungeness has some quite picturesque features too – quaint little cottages line the narrow road that runs through the area (the most striking, painted in black and yellow, is Prospect Cottage which was once the home of celebrated British film director Derek Jarman) and there are also two lighthouses – one Victorian and one from 1961. The latter was needed because the construction of the nuclear power plant obscured the older one from the shipping lines which pass near the coast. Drive into the shadow of the lighthouses and you’ll also find Dungeness’s two pubs ¬†– the Britannia Inn and the Pilot Inn, both specialising in serving¬†up local fish and shellfish.

Next time you’re down in deepest Kent, don’t overlook Dungeness – it will surprise you!