OK, so let me try and describe Dungeness to you. Lovely, weird Dungeness – Britain’s only official desert.
It lies, forsaken, on the Kent coast and you have to drive through miles of marshland to get to it. There’s something uniquely eerie about marshland, don’t you think? Not quite belonging to the land or to the sea – it seems temporary and at the same time ancient and neolithic. Full of secrets.
As you pootle along in your little car you notice more and more electricity pylons grouping together and ploughing their way through the marshes to the coast. They are three-abreast at points; eagerly rushing to suck up all the nuclear-generated electricity that is created at Dungeness power station.
Seeing them reminds me of the apocolyptic nuclear-meltdown nightmares I had every night as a teenager. I think everyone had those dreams in the 80s.
So yes, there is a nuclear power station at Dungeness (two, actually) – nothing weird about that per-se, but it does add a certain frisson (or should I say fission) to the ambience. Oh, I’m so funny!
This piece of land belongs to a person (not sure who) – you have to drive through gates to get to it. It was a wise investment – it has to be the only stretch of British coastline that is actually getting bigger (rather than eroding). This is made very apparent when you observe the numerous lighthouses (well, two) that have required erecting to keep up with the edge of the shore. It has extended about half a kilometer in 60 years, which is pretty epic in geological terms.
They have a railway station. This railway seems to be of a gague totally unique to the rest of the British Isles and only special little steam trains can use it. (By this point nothing is suprising me). (And please note, I’m no railway expert).
Many of the little dwellings (you really can’t call them houses) that are scattered randomly over the shingle have been constructed from old railway carriages – plus any other stuff that has been washed up onto the beach. Some are a bit more substatnial and built of wood – like Derek Jarman’s little cottage which I wrote about yesterday. I think you’d need to be a certain sort of person to want to live here – reclusive doesn’t even begin to describe it. You would need to not need people. You would need to want to only have your brain for company.
They do have a pub. A scary pub. It was the only amenity I could see (apart from a post box). The pub was closed, of course. There’s also a little wooden walkway that led to nowhere – why would it? This is Dungeness.
I don’t think I saw another human there, just crows. Crows and starlings. Where is Mr Seagull?
I’d love to hear if you have any weird or eerie places near you – I think I’ll make a bucket-list of similarly odd places to visit around the world!