Tuesday 12 March 2013

A desert in the UK?

I know it surprised me to, especially given the wettest summer on record last year with what seemed to be half the country under water. But it is true, the UK does have one official desert. Given my taste in plants it was always going to be somewhere I had to visit and got the opportunity this weekend. The drive down was WET and so there was no chance to explore on the first day. The second day however was drier and so we took a long walk along the beach to Rye, where we had a lovely lunch and walk around.  I loved this sign it was very well done.

On the walk back the tide had gone out, when it does there is some walk to get to the sea!

The place we were staying had planted a little dry bed, I think they need a bit of help:

The poor agaves did not look good:

There was only one that showed any real signs it may survive:

I am guessing they made a very simple mistake of planting directly into soil and not giving any rain shelter over this very wet winter. They could have spent a bit more on landscaping!

Anyway on the last day it we visited the desert. It is just along the coast from Rye at Dungeness and has another claim to fame with its 3 power stations.  Apparently it got the desert status due to its lack of water: despite having sea on one side and man made lakes on the other.  The last part to the drive is strangely beautiful, you have lakes surrounded an arid landscape, on the horizon lots of electricity pylons and the power stations. Then you get to the coastal road

This is the desert and it is covered in skeletons of old boats and buildings

The buildings were almost all painted black and shared the same design.  Each garden seemed to have its own boat in various stages of dis-repair. Sadly the weather had returned and it was bitterly cold, windy and snowing, so the idea of getting out of the car to wonder off to explore was ruled out by my OH who didn't seem as enamoured of the place as me. Mind you I am not sure I blame her, there are certain things that I believe: you must have a snowball fight whenever snow settles, an uncle/aunts sole job is to buy presents parents would not approve of, and deserts should be hot!

We did get out to look at the light houses though, the old one is up by one of the power stations. It seems a long way form the sea, but at least they would never run out of power. 

The new one sits in the middle of the desert, which is another strange concept.

It really is a fascinating place and one I would like to re-visit on a much warmer day!


  1. So you didn't make it to Derek Jarman's garden?


    1. Not this time sadly. It looks amazing in photos I have seen. But it gives me an excuse to go back.