If you enjoy strange, melancholy dreamlike landscapes, derelict spaces and are fascinated by nuclear power stations, you’ve got to visit Dungeness*. I’d always known about it in the back of my mind, but had never made it over to this stretch of coastline, which is a stone’s throw from Rye and situated on the Kentish coast. The hulking presence of the twinned nuclear power stations Dungeness ‘A’ and Dungeness ‘B’ preside over the landscape from a short distance, solid and determined, thrumming away quietly behind significant railings. One is partly defunct, the other is still very much in use, and they are almost joined at the hip like Siamese twins where one is healthier than the other. Shivers! They form a significant marker amid other strange buildings in this sandy desert-like expanse, which is peppered with occasional lighthouses, circular houses, gorse bushes, tough grasses, intermittent small wooden panelled dwellings and fishermen’s boats. It’s like a desert…by the sea, almost as though a nuclear blast had obliterated everything 100 years previously and this is what had grown back. Filmmaker Derek Jarman once owned the beautiful and tiny Prospect Cottage with its famous shingle garden, which pops up at the roadside quite unannounced. The landscape is full of surprises. One day, when I’m more organised, I’d love to book in for a tour of the nuclear power station. I’m told you have to sort this out months ahead, and show your passport. Thrills!
All this roaming around nuclear power station environs makes a girl hungry. When the weather is good, you’ll want an outdoor lunch in order to enjoy the radioactive (ha) sea breezes while observing the landscape at its thrilling best. The Dungeness Snack Shack is nothing more than a caravan at the side of the road selling fresh, locally caught fish held between bread, with great sauces and slaws. you queue up, state your order and get a ticket. It’s worth the wait – everything we ate here was delicious and fresh. They do good coffee and cakes. It’s unpretentious and, on a day when the sun is shining, much nicer than going to some fusty old pub. Look:
A simple menu offering catch of the day, fish fingers, flatbreads, sauces, salad, fried potatoes. What more do you want?
I want THIS:
Even though we tittered at being served coffee and tea in a small portable aluminium sink, the magnificence of two massive caramel and pecan flapjacks (hidden in paper bag) took our breath away. Craggy like rock with soft caramel oozing from the interior, with delicious bits of dark chocolate and pecan making everything perfect. My dream cake-snack. There was no time to take a proper photo of it, it was demolished in haste.
The surrounding landscape:
Behold, Dungeness ‘A’ and Dungeness ‘B’:
Ahem! A typo – should say ‘boundary’ not ‘boundry’!
I’d love to know who lives in this circular house:
If you want to get a tiny train, I can thoroughly recommend a ride aboard the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. It’s petite and travels at about 15mph. On our return to Dungeness a man threw himself backwards out of the train to – we assume – get to the bar at The Pilot Inn as we passed it. He was lucky he didn’t lose an arm under the train, as he fell on his back right up against the track!
Dungeness Snack Shack
The Fish Hut
Kent TN29 9NB
*This is my idea of a great girls weekend away – I’m not really into spa breaks haha :o)