We are now approaching the peaceful countryside of Romney Marsh and the distinctive landscape of Dungeness National Nature Reserve.
This small coastal village was established, by the point of the lifeboat station, in the 1880s, as a resort for the gentry. It is a residential area with a few shops and holiday properties. The beach is predominantly shingle, with wooden groynes and backed with multi-coloured beach and fishermen’s huts.
The resort is part of a straggling stretch of seaside development. Low housing, mostly built after the war, and beach huts stare out over a rather scruffy beach, a mixture of tough grass and shingle.
Lydd-on-Sea continues the same theme although the grass and beach is wider and more scruffy and there are no beach huts. The post war housing consists mostly of bungalows, built along the coastal road to Dungeness.
Lydd has memories for me as when I was a child, my parents would take my brother and I touring in France in our, I think – Austin 7 (or a maybe a Morris Minor, I can’t remember. What I can remember was that we took the car over in an aeroplane from Lydd Airport to Le Touquet. It was shaped like a tadpole. The belly would open up and there was room for a couple of cars and their passengers. Its two propellers had the power to raise the plane a few hundred feet into the air and, like a pigeon, it would then glide over the water to the other side. On one crossing my brother sat at an open door, exposed to the elements. Childhood memories.
Dungeness is unique. There are no boundaries here. It is a desolate landscape with wooden houses, power stations, lighthouses and expansive gravel pits. Yet it possesses a rich and diverse wildlife in one of the largest and best examples of a shingle beach in the world. The lighthouse stands tall amongst scattered shacks on this windswept promontory, each one unique in its construction and materials. Narrow rusty, rail tracks disappear across the shingle to tilting boats in the distance.
The shingle beach gives way to a stretch of soft sand & high dunes at Camber Sands. Several Holiday Parks hide behind amongst the grass. The village of Camber & the ruin of one of Henry VIII’s castles lie further inland
The medieval hilltop town of Rye is a gem, with its narrow, cobbled streets & surrounded by water on three sides. Rye Harbour, further down the estuary, consists of a Martello tower, a cluster of cottages, a pub & a church.