Dungeness National
Nature Reserve
Dungeness Road
Romney Marsh
Kent TN29 9NB 
Visitors wishing to explore a unique nature reserve should go to Dungeness in south-east England.  It is a windswept shingle promontory rich in wildlife and rare plants.
It has no boundaries, is a desolate landscape with small wooden houses, power stations, lighthouses, and large gravel pits.  Dungeness is one of the largest shingle banks in the world and has been created through thousands of years of longshore drift.
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Plants & Wildlife
The uncommon plants and wildlife to be found on Dungeness peninsula have adapted to their exposed and hostile location.  It is a haven for migratory birds in spring and autumn, and is home to the RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve.
One of the earliest visitors to arrive to spend March to October at Dungeness is the wheatear.  It is a small bird that spends much of its time on the ground where it nests and hunts for insects and larvae.
Autumn sees the arrival of one of the most spectacular birds to spend the winter months in the Reserve, the Smew duck.  This striking small white and black duck can be seen in the gravel pits diving and searching underwater for food such as fish and insects.
Around the large gravel pits, reed beds can be found the spectacular bright blue emperor dragonfly, the largest in Britain.  Living in this habitat is the Great-crested newt, the largest and rarest of the 3 species to be found in the UK.  These extraordinary creatures look almost pre-historic with a warty skin, a shaggy crest, large tail and bright orange belly.
Medicinal Leech
Another misunderstood creature with a significant 'yuk factor' to be found in the fresh water is the medicinal leech.  It is the only leech in the UK able to suck blood from humans.  In historical times leeches were thought to be able to distinguish between ‘bad’ blood from ‘good’ blood and were often used in the treatment of fevers, etc.  This of course was incorrect and their use passed out of favour.  However, nowadays they are making a comeback in microsurgery by reducing blood coagulation.
Other rare inhabitants include the Sussex emerald moth which appears in July.  Dungeness is the only place in Britain where this moth can be seen; another rarity is the pygmy footman moth which lives on lichens.  From late April to the end of October a common sight is the small copper butterfly perching on or near the ground.
The hostile pebble landscape is a favourite habitat of many unusual plants.  The white flowered blackthorn and yellow flowering broom grow in a prostrate form, hugging the shingle.
The shingle is peppered with clumps of waxy grey-green leaves similar in shape to cabbage leaves.  This Sea Kale was once used by locals as a vegetable.  It produces dense clusters of white flowers from June to August.
The bristly Viper’s Bugloss plant bears attractive bright blue flowers during summer, and the rare Nottingham Catchfly plant has fragrant drooping white flowers which open at night.  It was famous for covering the walls of Nottingham Castle until the 19th century; now this rare plant can only be seen at Dungeness.  Both these plants can be seen flowering from May to August.
Dungeness is a fragile place and visitors are requested to treat it with great care by only driving on the roads, not on the shingle and walking on the established footpaths and roadways.
The Dungeness National Nature Reserve has an excellent website with beautiful photographs.
Website  Dungeness Nature Reserve    External Link
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Getting There
- By road
Refer to the article on Dungeness in this website
- By Heritage Rail
Get there by the delightful Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway.
Google Maps - Dungeness National Nature Reserve