Blooming Dungeness

On the bare shingle ridge, fishing boats are hauled up well above the highest tides. The stark shapes puncture the smooth lines of the foreland.

Inland and the first vegetation is sea kale, yellow horned-poppy and prostrate broom. Further inland and the vegetation is more established in increasingly large patches and swathes; there is a colourful display of viper’s bugloss, white stonecrop and bird’s foot trefoil with carpets of grey-green lichens amongst the wood sage. Escaped red valerian and sweet peas add deep reds to the palette. In late June, under a strong sun and warm, blustery west wind this is an extraordinarily beautiful place.

Behind the bare coast, there is an unruly, rusting sprawl of all the gear required to get the fishing boats in and out of the sea including boxes and containers, winches, and bulldozers. Crudely planked haulways slowly sink into the stones; it all fits seamlessly into the spare landscape beneath the uncompromising shadow of the nuclear power station.

Next to the narrow road, picture perfect Prospect Cottage with its original, shingle garden is just the same as it was five years ago and after the recent and successful fundraising effort to save it, more popular than ever.

The recent additions of architect-designed cottages are like digitally remastered versions of the originals and, like everything else, here slot happily into the great, shingle motherboard.

On the landward side of the road, the vegetation thickens with increasing amounts of gorse and dwarf blackthorn. Here, parasitic dodder appears to suffocate the vegetation in small, iron red mats; the tendrils attaching to the the broom, gorse, wood sage and campion.

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