Let’s go to Dungeness

Editing these photos just now has filled me with such longing for this beautifully desolate area of the country.  I don’t think there’s really anything else I can say about Dungeness which has been said by a thousand other people – it’s stark, it’s barren, it feels like the end of the world.  I loved it.

There’s a smattering of houses, two pubs, two lighthouses, an odd little railway, even odder structures, and a power station.  Other than that, there’s silence except for the occasional siren from the lighthouse or alarm from the power station.  It really is a great place to get away from society (but not too far away).

OK, so I’ve romanticised our trip somewhat and I’m sure it’s a very different place in the summer but November definitely felt bleak.

We had a guess at what this structure was but didn’t come close to what the internet says it’s for.  As well as a wooden T, there’s also a wooden diamond further down the beach, and fisherman at sea could apparently line these two structures up to know where to navigate home.

I don’t know if we were just lucky, but as I mentioned in my post about the Fog Signal Building where we stayed, we had such beautiful light on our little walks around the estate.

There aren’t many photos of the residences here because I didn’t want to encroach on people’s privacy so we stuck to the beach.  Turn left out of our back garden – lots of abandoned boats.

And some creepy nuclear radiation detecting things (I think?)

Turn right and you come across the power station.  Somewhat unsettling for those with a propensity to overreact (such as myself).  In my defence, the warning signs around the place are terrifying, and the less said about the cloud in the sky one night, the better.

Everything was closed because it was November (of course) so we didn’t get to go on the mini-railway or go up the old lighthouse so we’ll definitely need to go back.  Hopefully there’ll be less fog next time, so the new lighthouse doesn’t keep us awake.

Fog Signal Building, Dungeness

We like staying in weird places.  In the past few years, we’ve stayed in a Pineapple, a 200 year old fort, and a 16th century Scottish tower house.  So when looking for somewhere to stay for our winter mini-break, I typed various synonyms for “quirky” into Google to see what I could find.

And I found the most perfect UK holiday rental that I have ever stayed in – the Fog Signal Building in Dungeness.

I knew a bit about Dungeness, but haven’t ever explored that area of the UK before so was really looking forward to days of peace and quiet, and that’s what we got.  More about Dungeness in another post (and also more about the random car we had for the drive as well) – but first, more on this amazing building.

The Fog Signal Building is on a plot of land which housed a number of old (and now some new) buildings that formed the Experimental Station – a former Trinity House research station.  It’s a bit hard to find historical details, but one book notes that it was built in the 1950s in order to test telemetry and fog detection.

The Fog Signal Building has been renovated to an extraordinarily high level by Johnson Naylor – beautiful limestone flooring, very cool furnishings, fancy kitchen appliances, and two (yes TWO) different types of teak baths.  There’s one main room for living, dining, and sleeping with separate kitchen and bathroom and it’s all stunning.  This is my dream home.

The light in Dungeness is incredible and almost other-worldly, so at numerous points during the day, we’d run outside to take photos of this iconic building. 

Almost every door and window has a different view – the two lighthouses, the Coastguard Lookout, the beach (and yes, the Nuclear Power Station which was only occasionally unnerving).  My favourite?  Sitting on the sofa looking out towards the new lighthouse, especially at night.

Although looking out over the shingle beach was pretty perfect too.

As our stay was in November, there weren’t many people about and we’d go hours without seeing another soul.  At times, we felt like we were the only ones left at the end of the world, which the Dungeness setting really helped with.

We had amazing sunsets every night.  I’m fairly certain we had amazing sunrises as well, but I was too lazy to get out of bed.  In fact, we slept really well the whole time except for one foggy night where the lighthouse fog siren blared for a while.  Oh the irony.  Of all the things to be kept awake by in the Fog Signal Building, I didn’t think it would be an actual fog signal.  Admittedly, I did convince myself it was a siren from some sort of nuclear disaster next door first but I soon figured it out.

At the end of our few days, I didn’t want to leave and I am already so desperate to go back.  We booked through Mulberry Cottages who have other amazing Dungeness properties as well (there are a few different websites where you can book this including Airbnb).

This is everything I want in a home, and if I won the lottery tonight, I’d drive down there to try to buy it from the current owners.  I’m sure they wouldn’t sell though – you’d be crazy to let this go.