Dungeness – United Kingdom’s Desert

Photo by Callum Woodbridge

Photo by Callum Woodbridge

Dungeness lies at the southernmost point of Kent and is a veritable desert of gravel and shell debris. A strange atmosphere can be found nowadays: two lighthouses are visible from afar, narrow streets, little fishing houses and a steam-powered narrow gauge railway. The surreal environment is dominated by telephone and power lines. A nuclear power plant can also be found while the modern concrete lighthouse provides a highly visible contrast to this strange area.

The lighthouse at Dungeness Point has a long tradition and a corresponding story: it has always shown that this headland is extremely dangerous. Old documents report that lighthouses were built here since 1615 and were powered by coal. Coal was replaced by oil lanterns, but the results weren’t convincing and and a new coal fire was set in 1635. In 1746 it was renewed and strengthened due to the sea’s strong retreat.

Photo by Bierlos

Photo by Bierlos

Photo by Paul Symes

Photo by Paul Symes

Photo by Gillie Savage

Photo by Gillie Savage

Dungeness has one of the longest pebble beaches of the world. The landscape is of great geomorphological significance, but also in terms of the plant world, the communities of invertebrate animals and wild birds, the area is important. The landscape is under the observation of the National Nature Reserve (NNR) and is a site of special scientific interest , SSSI. The climate is very mild, the peninsula has more sunny days and two weeks less frost than the UK average.

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The wild flora includes 600 species of plants (a third of all plant species existing in England), insects, moths, wild bees, spiders and beetles, many of which are very rare, some can be found only here in the British Isles. Of the flood-filled gravel troughs that are filled with fresh and brackish water, form a refuge for migrating and native birds.

In Dungeness, there is a power station, one lighthouse, an abandoned railway and a small village. Some houses, resembling English cottages, are either occupied by local fisherman or people who wanted to escape society. The residents of Dungeness are mostly eclectics, bohemian artists, writers, poets and experimental film makers.

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Photo by Neil/Flickr

Photo by Neil/Flickr

In 1981, a photograph of the English desert appeared on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “A collection of great dance songs”.

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– via Messy Nessy Chick.

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