Source: KentLive (Extract)
Posted: June 22, 2024

With a long-awaited heatwave forecasted for Kent in the upcoming days, many of us are planning a day out at the beach. It’s not just humans who enjoy trips to the seaside; our four-legged friends also relish running around on the sand or splashing in the waves.

During peak summer, most of Kent’s beaches restrict or limit dogs’ access, but a select few allow dogs year-round. Recently, one of these beaches was recognized among the best in the country.

The Guardian has just released its list of “10 of the best dog-friendly beaches in the UK,” and Dungeness, right here in Kent, made the cut. Known as Britain’s only desert, this expansive shingle beach may resemble a scene from Mad Max at first glance, but it’s a fantastic spot for a summer stroll with your canine companion.

The article highlighted Dungeness for its “numerous intriguing elements, including the stark black lighthouse and the former residence of artist and activist Derek Jarman.” The generally flat landscape of Dungeness is marked by two lighthouses and the imposing Dungeness nuclear power station.

You can reach the beach via a steam railway from nearby Hythe, or it’s a 45-minute drive from Folkestone and just 35 minutes from Ashford. Lydd Beach Car Park offers free parking, providing easy access to a boardwalk leading directly to the shoreline.

During your stroll, you’ll encounter numerous weathered wooden huts, abandoned fishing boats, and expansive wildlife, making Dungeness an ideal destination for leisurely exploration with your furry companion. For avid birdwatchers and aspiring wildlife photographers, Dungeness National Nature Reserve, situated slightly inland, hosts a diverse array of species including Bitterns, Cuckoos, and migratory birds such as Whinchats, Redstarts, and Wheatears.

Unfortunately, dogs, aside from assistance dogs, are not permitted in the reserve due to the sensitive wildlife and habitats. However, on Dungeness beach, there’s plenty for dogs and their owners to explore. To ensure you make the most of your visit, consider following this walking trail.

After a satisfying walk and building up a thirst, make your way to one of the two nearby pubs, or both. The closest is The Britannia Inn, proudly claiming the title of the only pub situated in a desert in the UK. Nestled between the towering lighthouses, it’s renowned for its “quality British pints” and delicious pub fare, including fresh fish sourced locally.

Located on Battery Road, The Pilot Inn boasts a reputation for its renowned fish dishes. The pub’s distinctive feature is its garden adorned with an engine and propeller from a WW2 B17 Flying Fortress bomber, a nod to its historical charm.

Nearby, visitors can explore the acclaimed Derek Jarman Garden, designed by the innovative filmmaker who once praised The Pilot Inn for serving “simply the finest fish and chips in all England.” Also in close proximity is the Dungeness Snack Shack, offering a variety of delectable seafood dishes.

Dungeness Beach has garnered praise beyond national newspapers, earning a notable 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Describing their unique experience, one reviewer shared alongside their five-star rating: “The cab driver recommended Dungeness for a distinctive experience, and it certainly delivered.”

“It’s very bleak, there’s a disused nuclear reactor, people’s homes are few and far between – you really feel as if you’ve stepped onto a movie set. It’s really atmospheric and there are a couple of good eateries.”

When bringing your dog to the beach in summer, it’s crucial to take several precautions to ensure your pet’s outing is safe and enjoyable. This includes checking weather conditions to ensure the sand and shingle aren’t too hot for their paws, providing shade and ample fresh water, keeping track of tide times, and maintaining good leash handling practices.

Further safety tips can be found on the Dog’s Trust website here. If Dungeness doesn’t quite sound like the day out for you and your pup, or you’re just looking for anywhere else you can bring your four-legged friend, check out some other brilliant dog-friendly Kent beaches here.