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Early morning at Dungeness beach
Photograph: Andy Smith Photography

10 things to do in Dungeness

Seeking shingle strolls, bird-watching and desert vibes? Look no further than Dungeness in Kent

By Sarah Gibbons
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There's a definite ‘end-of-the-world’ feel about Dungeness, a tiny fishing town at the southernmost point of Kent. It’s set in a wild landscape of stark, shingle desert headland, overlooked by the imposing Dungeness Nuclear Power Station. It doesn’t tick the ‘Garden of England’ boxes the rest of the county is known for, but there is something uniquely beautiful about the place, with its lighthouses, abandoned fishing boats, wooden cabins and thriving wildlife.

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A perfect day in Dungeness

Old Dungeness Lighthouse
Photograph: Shutterstock

First up

Head to the top of the Old Lighthouse, a historic Grade II-listed building that saved ships from the perils of the English Channel between 1904 and 1960. From the top you can see for miles across Dungeness and Romney Marsh.

RSPB Dungeness reserve - autumn day trips for kids

Soak up the vibes

Dungeness is a magnet for all kinds of bird life, so grab your binoculars and head to the RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve. Take the circular trail and enjoy the vistas of wildflower meadows, shingle ridges and marshland.

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Dungeness Snack Shack

Stop for lunch

If the salty sea air hasn’t already given you an appetite, the salivating smells from the family fun Snack Shack most certainly will. Dig in to homemade flatbreads with the catch of the day from its very own fishing boats. For the best fish and chips around, head to The Pilot Inn, which sits right on the edge of the beach.

Derek Jarman's Cottage, Dungeness, Kent
Britta Jaschinski

Go on an adventure

Romney Marsh is as flat as a pancake, so makes for perfect cycling country. Hire a bike in Dungeness or New Romney and take in the desert-like scenery of the largest expanse of shingle in Europe. Go past the Wild West-esque weathered, derelict huts and fishing boats as well as the iconic coal-black Prospect Cottage and gardens, former home to film director Derek Jarman.

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Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch light railway
Photograph: RogerMechan/Shutterstock.com

Drink like a local

Try a local beer from Romney Marsh Brewery’s beer garden at the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway station in Dungeness, aptly named Ales by the Rails.

Sunset at Dungeness, Kent

If you only do one thing

Stay for the sunset. There’s something extra-special about the sunsets at Dungeness, and neighbouring Camber Sands too. As the sun sinks to the horizon, watch a spectacular show of pinks, blues and oranges fill the sky and reflect on the open sea. A photographer’s dream.

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Shingle House at Dungeness, Kent

And if you stay the night, wake up here

Locations don’t get better for exploring this unique corner of Kent than this striking architectural gem of a holiday house – right on the shingle. Integrated into the landscape, the modern design is inspired by the old tarred exteriors of the fisherman’s huts that are dotted across Dungeness. Enjoy the expansive sea views from its folding glass windows, or watch as the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch miniature railway passes by the end of the garden. It’s a totally dreamy spot. Shingle House. From £315 per night, sleeps eight. 

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