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THE DESERT OF DUNGENESS

May 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

The desert of Dungeness

Dungeness, a stretch of shingle at the most southerly point in Kent  pointing out in to the channel, is an unusual  place.   Dungeness is a wild, isolated, and constantly shifting lunar landscape and is the only officially-designated area of desert  in the UK. Although on the coast and surrounded by large man-made lakes the climate is very dry and water scarce and what at first glance seem lifeless peddles and shingle dominate the landscape. I have read it described as  the English Seaside redesigned by Tim Burton.

But it isn't lifeless.  Dungeness is an important bird reserve as well as being home to various rare species of plant, insect and animal and is a Designated Special Area of Conservation. Bird species seen in the area include the Smew, Bittern, Slavonian grebe, Wheatear, Marsh Harrier, Stonechart and Cormorant. Hundreds of moth species along with the protected medicinal leech and great crested newt also find home amongst the lakes and shingle. 

Dungeness Point also attracts a certain type of person who chooses to live there . There are around 80 scattered houses, huts and sheds, and these provide their occupants with the isolation and quiet not found anywhere else in the country.  Many of the homes are converted rolling stock from the Southern Railway and contribute to the distinct look of the area. Fishermen, artists, the occasional worker at the Nuclear power station that overshadows much of the area and those looking to escape the pace and stress of modern life live in these unique, eclectic homes. Perhaps the most famous is film maker Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage, although the Rubber House – a traditional Dungeness Cottage encased entirely in black rubber - and the Mad Max bunker (a boys den built out of drift wood and complete with Union Jack flag) are also well known landmarks. 

 


I spent a few hours there and enjoyed poking around in the many  abandoned huts.  The shot above came from one of these, where the old fishing nets and other paraphenalia  evoked its former use.  It's an HDR image - normally a grungy technique, but one which I think works well here.

 


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