Not far from Camber Sands lies one of England’s remotest and quietest spots, Dungeness. This desert landscape houses a unique variety of flora and fauna plus a surprisingly long list of things to do and see. If you’re staying at Camber, we think this starkly beautiful headland should definitely feature on your must-see list. To help you plan a day trip to Dungeness, this guide will ensure you enjoy one great day out.
Dungeness sits on the tip of Romney Marsh peninsula, jutting out slightly into the English Channel. It’s almost equidistant between Camber Sands and Dymchurch.
Did you know? The shingle flora at Dungeness houses around a third of all plant species in the UK.
How do you get to Dungeness from Camber Sands?
By car – the 10.5-mile journey takes around 20 minutes. There are car parks near the beach and nature reserve.
By bus – the 102 service between Pontins in Camber Sands and The Pilot Inn runs every hour and takes about 25 minutes.
On foot – the coastal walk is possible if Lydd Ranges are not closed because of MoD firing practice. You also need to time your walk for low tide to avoid trudging through shingle. However, the official England Coast Path route follows the road inland before heading back to the coast via Denge Marsh. It’s about 10 miles long.
What’s Dungeness like?
Remote, hauntingly beautiful and endlessly flat would perhaps be the best way to describe this headland on Romney Marsh. Dungeness is home to the longest stretch of shingle beach in Europe and England’s only dessert.
Top tip – if you plan to walk along the beach at Dungeness, time it for low tide when you can stroll along the sand – the shingle makes walking hard going otherwise!
Why take a day trip to Dungeness?
This blog post provides all the answers and we’ve also compiled five compelling reasons to go to Dungeness.
What about nature at Dungeness?
Despite its desolation and seemingly empty scenery, Dungeness is home to some of the richest variety of wildlife in the UK. Think rare plants and flowers such as the Nottingham catchfly; unique insects, spiders and moths including the rare but stunning Sussex emerald moth; and tons of migratory birds. The marshes are also the natural habitat of the medicinal leech.
Did you know? The bird-watching calendar is busy all year-round at Dungeness. Feathered friends to look out for include firecrests, Lapland buntings and smews. Find out more courtesy of the RSPB Nature Reserve site.
What is there to see on a day trip to Dungeness?
On your day trip to Dungeness, do see the following:
- Marvel at the vistas – from the top of Dungeness Lighthouse. Built in 1904 and now a museum, this landmark offers the best place to take in the enormity of Romney Marsh and the English Channel. To see it, climb to the top of the lighthouse and feast your eyes on those views. More information here
- Take a ride – on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway, running between Dungeness and Hythe. The almost year-round service has been chugging across the flatlands since 1947 when the railway was reopened by Laurel and Hardy. Find out more
- Check out the acoustic mirrors – designed to detect enemy aircraft coming across the English Channel, these three concrete structures were Britain’s first early warning system before radar replaced them. They sit on an island in the middle of a gravel pit, only accessible on RSPB open days, usually between August and December. Watch this video for a sneak peek
- Look out for the tower – built to provide water for the area in the 1900s, this landmark literally towers over the flat landscape.
- And the power stations – more distinctive landmarks but not as pretty, Dungeness has two power stations, known as A and B. Now out of action, A used to supply enough power to light up southeast England. Dungeness B is still in operation and currently powers 1.5 million homes.
Top tip – don’t forget your binoculars on your day trip for the views and the wildlife.
Any other recommendations for things to do at Dungeness?
Apart from the obvious landmarks, we’d also suggest the following:
- Catch the sunset – with its vast flatness and open skies, Dungeness is the perfect place to watch the sun go down in complete tranquility.
- Look for Hagstones – beach comb the shingle for stones with a hole in them, known locally at Hagstones and reputed to protect from the evil powers of black magic.
- Peep into Prospect Cottage – the jet-black timber home with its extraordinary shingle garden was the work of film-maker Derek Jarman who lived in the cottage from 1986 to 1994.
- Check out the railway carriages – Dungeness is dotted with carriages, bought by South Eastern Railway staff in the 1920s and converted into homes.
Did you know? Our Coastguard Cottages at Jurys Gap enjoy proximity to Dungeness and have the beach on their doorstep. See which one suits you
What about food and drink?
You can, of course, pack a picnic and enjoy your snacks on the lovely Dungeness beach. But if you’re a fan of fish and seafood, you’re in for several foodie treats.
- The Dungeness Snack Shack sits right on the shingle and serves the owners’ catch of the day. Their Fisherman’s rolls are legendary as are their homemade fish cakes. Try to time your visit to coincide with the arrival of the fishing boats for a bite as fresh as they come. Work up an appetite
- The Pilot Inn specialises in fish and chips that are so good that Jarman claimed they were the best in England. The venue’s also pretty special and dates back to 1633. Take a look
- M&M Richardson are hallowed local fishmongers and the perfect spot to pick up fresh supplies of locally caught fish and seafood to take home for supper on the barbie at your Camber Sands cottage. Plan your menu
Where can you stay at Dungeness?
Camber Sands of course! Check out our selection of holiday cottages, offering comfortable accommodation within easy reach of Dungeness and many other attractions in East Sussex. Start your holiday cottage search here