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Early morning at Dungeness beach
Photograph: Andy Smith Photography

9 really great things to do in Dungeness

From windswept walks to bird-spotting opportunities galore, these are the best things to do in beautiful and bleak Dungeness

Joe Minihane
Written by
Sarah Gibbons
&
Joe Minihane
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It’s impossible to escape the sense of having reached the end of the world when you get to Dungeness. This tiny fishing town, at the southernmost point of Kent, is very different from the ‘Garden of England’ of the imagination. Instead of bucolic homes and village greens, you’ll find a stark, wild landscape. The vast shingle desert headland is overlooked by the imposing Dungeness Nuclear Power Station but is renowned for its unique beauty, from its weathered wood cabins to its abandoned fishing boats – not to mention the wildlife that thrives there. On a day trip? Here are the best things to do in Dungeness right now.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Kent

Best things to do in Dungeness

First up
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.

Soak up the vibes

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. The reserve is known for its rare and hard-to-see birds. Listen out for booming bitterns and keep your ’nocs to handy for spotted flycatchers and wheatears.

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Stop for lunch
Photograph: Dungeness Snack Shack

Stop for lunch

If the salty sea air hasn’t already given you an appetite, the sumptuous smells from the 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.

Go on an adventure
Britta Jaschinski

Go on an adventure

Romney Marsh is as flat as a pancake, so makes for perfect cycling country, even if it can get a tad blustery. 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 – the former home of film director Derek Jarman.

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Drink like a local
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 (it’s aptly named Ales by the Rails).

If you only do one thing

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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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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