I must go down to the sea again…..

By way of a change, and in a moment of spontaneity, I decided to go down to sea yesterday afternoon. It’s only about a half an hour’s drive from here and I should really go more often. I suppose it’s part of human nature to sometimes take things that are on our doorstep for granted. The county of Kent, tucked away in the south east corner of England, has a coastline on it’s North, South and East borders, so there are plenty of places to choose for a visit, the most well know being the chalky White Cliffs of Dover. However, I decided to go south to Dungeness Point.

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Dungeness has an almost desolate and other-wordly quality to it, particularly in winter. People either love it or hate it – I love it. I think it possesses a bleak romance, which is probably why it often attracts artists – trying to capture its spirit and ever-shifting skies in a painting or photograph.

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Because it juts out into the English Channel the weather can be quite unpredictable, although the one element you can generally rely on is the wind, and yesterday was no exception. Not a great day trip destination for wig-wearers. Most of it is a vast shingle beach – one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe, and is a species-rich nature reserve.

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Scattered across the shingle are a quirky, and often eccentric, array of huts, shacks and houses, mostly made from wood. They’re occupied by an eclectic range of local residents, including local fishermen, who’s boats are launched directly from the beach.

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To the west, a dominant feature of the landscape is the nuclear power station. It makes for a startling juxtaposition but, in a very counter-intuitive way, it doesn’t seem to diminish the beauty of the place.

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So that was my afternoon by the sea. It wasn’t a sunny, sand between the toes sort of a trip, but I prefer my beaches to be more windswept than sun-kissed, so the scudding clouds and blustery rain spots suited me and the dog very well indeed. There are many coastal landscapes in the British Isles that are more dramatic than they are in Kent, but I was born along this coastline so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

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20 thoughts on “I must go down to the sea again…..

  1. I love that second pic. We’re about the same distance from the coast and don’t go often enough either. A stroll along the cliff tops really does blow the cobwebs away.

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  2. Thank you. It’s surprising just how much colour and variety there is from native plants. About a third of the plants found in Britain can be seen there. The coastline’s quite a bit different from your end of the country. I’ve always liked the ruggedness you get in the south west.

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  3. What a lovely post and pictures Jack . A place that is definitely on my wish list , I’ve read so many articles, and seen numerous photos over the years, I’d really love to explore and do exactly what you’ve done . I can’t believe that we lived in Kent for a couple of years and never visited ! Different days, different priorities I guess . A special type of gardening required here for sure .

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  4. Thanks for the kind comments. I’m not sure I did it justice when you see some of the photos of it on Google and in some of the arty shops in Rye. It’s not exactly on the way to anywhere so it’s not surprising that you didn’t get down there. Worth a visit, though, if your ever in this neck of the woods again.

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  5. I love that last pic of the pebbly beach. It reminds me of one of my first ever diving experiences off Chesil beach. Such a long time ago now!

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    • Thank you. Chesil Beach is one of those places I’ve always meant to visit. Not for diving though. I’ve done a bit of dinghy sailing on and off over the years, but I’m too much of a claustrophobic to spend any length of time below the surface.

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  6. Wonderful photos Jack. Dungeness always looks so simple and peaceful. I must get my act together to go, as I have wanted to visit Derek Jarman’s cottage and garden for many years.

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    • Thanks Paul. Derek Jarman’s cottage is a really good example of how, with imagination, something can be created that stands out, but also blends so well into its environment.

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  7. I’ve read about Kent and the beach houses, one day I will visit. Those seaside gardens are an inspiration. Our coastline is largely sand, dotted with tiny fishing villages. The UK’s diversity is fabulous. I’m glad you made it to the beach. I do try and go everyday, but I’m so much closer. 2.9 miles to the nearest and we’re on the radius of so many gorgeous ones. I’m lucky.

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  8. Nice to hear from you again. The beach houses tend to be on the north coast of Kent, and fetch eye-watering prices these days, so are often a luxury afforded only by the more well-heeled. I’ve been quite a few times to both the west and east coastlines of Scotland and have loved it every time. My favourite place, to date, is Iona, especially early in the season before it gets too busy. I was amazed on a visit to Mull one April at just how much more advanced plants like Lupins were compared to southern England.

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  9. We also had a Dungeness area in Washington here in the states. Windblown and full of misty secrets… I still love it. It’s always good to go out and get lost nearby.. amazing what one can find on the average day.

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