Dungeness – Britain’s only desert

Dungeness, at the Southernmost point of Kent, is unique – no boundaries, a desolate landscape with wooden houses, power stations, lighthouses and expansive gravel pits. Yet it possesses a rich and diverse wildlife within the National Nature Reserve in one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world.Dungeness has been designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is home to 600 species of plants which is a third of all plants found in the UK. The National Nature Reserve stretches across Dungeness to encompass the vast RSPB reserve and is intended to help protect the landscape and its wildlife.

My husband and I visited for the first time recently and it is an extraordinary place.  As the introduction above states, it is desolate.  We were only there for a few hours and will return without our dog so that we can explore the RSPB reserve and spend more time walking.  Even if you were only to stay for 5 minutes you would be struck by what a special place this is and I urge you to visit NOW before the changes that are starting get a real grip.

The contrast between the decommissioned nuclear power station and the beautiful flora and fauna is quite shocking. The windswept 468-acre estate, on Romney Marsh,  has just 22 properties, mostly converted railway cottages, which are largely owned by fishermen. But change is happening – some of the old wooden property is being replaced by  mini “Grand Design” houses.  Although the new properties are fitting in well, being a modern version of their predecessors and remaining low-key and modest, I could not help but wonder if the replacements are owned by second home owners.  As the owner of two holiday cottages, I cannot be so hypocritical as to condemn this but, in such a small community, I feel that even a few holiday homes would have a massive impact.   I note that when the estate was put up for sale in 2015 at £1.5m, the agent said: “It has considerable potential for increased income from tourism on top of the substantial income it already produces.”  It is now owned by EDF Energy and a quick search today found 7 holiday homes there.

Before, During and After ….

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Flattened
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A new build in progress
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Grand Design

Having said that, Dungeness is far from ruined and there are few outlets for the tourist to spend his money.  Long may it stay that way!  So go, take it in, draw, paint, walk, photograph, and enjoy … while you can!

With apologies to my husband, Alan, I could not resist turning a few images into black and white – it so suits the place!

 

 

 

 

 

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