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© Ioanna Sakellaraki
© Ioanna Sakellaraki

Discover Dungeness, Britain’s Only Desert

Picture of Ioanna Sakellaraki
Updated: 9 February 2017
Dungeness (deriving from Old Norse: ‘headland’) is situated on the coast of Kent in England and is formed by a pebbled beach in the shape of a cuspate foreland. Its rare geomorphology, rich wildlife and plant variety together with the many wooden fishing huts and lighthouses scattered all around it make Dungeness a unique site to visit.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

Dungeness is Britain’s only desert and one of Europe’s largest expanses of shingle. From a geomorphological scope, Dungeness has gained international conservation importance as it contains a wide variety of plants. Over 600 different types together with a significant variety of wildlife including rare types of moths, beetles, bees and spiders in the ecological site, which can be found in the same location.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

Activities such as beach fishing are known in the area, making Dungeness nationally recognised as a cod fish venue during the winter. A very special feature of the area, adding to its diversity and the unique morphology of its landscape, are the number of lighthouses located around the headland. Five of them have been built over the years with the last one being Dungeness Lighthouse, built in 1904.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

There are also two nuclear power stations in Dungeness, including a public visitors’ centre that gives tours. The so-called ‘the patch’, or ‘the boil’, is featured as one of the most remarkable areas of the Dungeness site. Here, the hot water and sewage from the Dungeness nuclear power stations are pumped into the sea via outfall pipes, enriching the biological productivity of the seabed and attracting seabirds from miles around.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

Moreover, Dungeness is also very famous for a remarkable collection of dwellings that are not only architecturally fascinating and add a slight mysterious charm of this area but also add to the historical profile of the headland.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

In addition to the wooden fishing huts and different types of fishing boats around the coast that extend across old railway coaches, creating an incredibly intriguing landscape setting, there are also remarkable cottages.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

One of them is the Prospect Cottage. Painted in black, this cottage was formerly owned by the late artist and film director Derek Jarman and features part of John Donne’s poem The Sunne Rising on the side plus an exquisite garden decorated with pebbles and driftwood, scrap metal and a few hardy plants.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

Throughout the years, Dungeness has also appeared on many album covers, including Pink Floyd’s album A Collection of Great Dance Songs and in music videos of bands such as The Thrills, Turin Brakes and The Prodigy.


© Ioanna Sakellaraki

An undiscovered site with a unique identity, Dungeness can make for a quiet yet alluring escape near the coast, combining plenty of impressive things to see.


By Ioanna Sakellaraki