When the sun comes out there is nothing Lolly and I like better than heading to the beach. If you live in London or Greater London as we do, the beach usually means Brighton. We like Brighton, we got married there but the beach itself isn’t all that, it’s made of pebbles, if the suns out it’s rammed, getting into town is a slow process and it’s easier to solve a rubiks cube on acid than it is to find somewhere to park. You can however go by train, it’s very well connected and the town is a cool place to be, we didn’t want to be in the town, we wanted a beach.
I can’t quite remember when it was we discovered “our” beach as we like to call it, I suspect it was Lolly’s doing as I never bother looking these things up but it’s our go to spot for sand, a few drinks and a bbq, the beach itself is called Greatstone and it’s not far from Dymchurch in Kent, I like to call Dymchurch grim church because in my eyes it’s pretty grim.
There are many nice things about Greatstone beach, parking is easy and not massively expensive, it’s never that busy and it’s a proper sand beach with dunes which is where we usually head to as the beach itself is always a little bit windy, the dunes give you a bit of shelter, there is also well maintained toilets and an off-licence / general store that sells all sorts, we bought beer, biscuits and a mallet. Generally when we are there the sea is about a mile out so we often ditch paddling and just eat, drink and people watch, with that in mind, we cracked open some booze and got the Cobb BBQ on the go.
Believe it or not that is actually on the go, the cobb doesn’t look like it’s doing anything but the reality is there is some lovely harrisa chicken cooking there and it’s a good job the cobb has a lid, it was windy and near enough everything we took to the beach got covered in sand except the chicken.
While we were cooking I took a quick panorama with my phone so you can get an idea of what the beach looks like and how busy it isn’t.
The chicken was lovely as was the bean salad Lauren made, we munched, we drank and once i’d reached my limit of what I could have and be within the legal limits to drive, I convinced Lauren we should stay the night wild camping style so I could drink more booze, I love my wife, she agreed and said drink as much as you like!
We’d brought our bikes along as we’d discussed earlier about maybe going for a bike ride. I’d had a good few beers and thought riding on the road probably wasn’t the best idea so I championed the idea of riding across the compact sand, Lauren wasn’t convinced especially as she would have to carry her bike across the loose sand to get to the compacted bit, I think she agreed in the end just to shut me up, we took everything back to the van, grabbed the bike and headed off along the sand.
I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t quite as easy as i’d thought but it wasn’t too hard either, it was really nice riding on the beach and the further away we got from the van the closer the tide came in, as the beach turned to shingle which made riding almost impossible and the sea was right beside us we got off and went for a paddle.
We had agreed that we would ride to the headland, as this was now not possible via the beach we carried the bikes up on to the road and continued to follow the coast road eventually arriving at a nice pub called The Pilot Inn. The pub was heaving with diners and drinkers, we had now left Greatstone and were in Dungeness, we stopped for a drink and surveyed our surroundings, we spotted a light house and decided to take a look, a helpful sign said it was one mile away.
This is were we discovered our new favourite place, Dungeness Nature Reserve, it’s not your typical nature reserve on the basis that it’s made mostly of shingle but it’s a truly remarkable place. The maddest thing of all is there is a nuclear power station and dotted all around the area are little plaques with details of what to do should the plant go tits up. There are also the most quirky and unique properties, some made out of old train carriages, some that look like run down fishing huts and others that wouldn’t look out of place on George Clarkes amazing spaces, there are also a couple of lighthouses, one of which drew us there in the first place.
That one doesn’t emit a light but there is one round the corner that does, the first one was built in 1904 and was replaced by the second one in 1961 becasue when they built the power station it obstructed the original lighthouse beacon, I learnt that from another blog written by a T4 owner wild camping in Dungeness!
As I mentioned earlier, i’d had too much drink to drive home and we had planned to stay in the car park by the beach, the nature reserve however looked like a much better option, there were a few motorhomes parked up so we rode back, grabbed the van and parked up for the night next to another T4 and watched the sun go down.
It should also be noted that we were parked quite near the power station which looked really nice when the sun went down and it was all lit up although the picture below doesn’t really demonstrate this!
I drank the last of my beers, Lauren had a decaf tea and we got our heads down for the night, more wild camping!
We didn’t bother putting the thermal blinds up so we were woken when the sun came up as our van was flooded with daylight, Lauren did her best to rouse me so I could observe the beautiful sunrise but I wasn’t really up for opening my eyes for a little while yet.
I eventually got up about 7, we made some tea, put the bed away and headed off back to Croydon, i’d really like to go back there again, it was a cool place to stay and there is a load more to explore and photograph, i’ll bring my DSLR next time!