Welcome back to the blog with a chance to share some long-overdue weekend away with the kids to the unique coastal gem of Dungeness in the UK! Despite less-than-ideal weather conditions, we had an unforgettable weekend at the design-led cottage, El Ray, with our two energetic kids in tow. Join us as we explore this extraordinary location, its fascinating landscapes, and the cozy haven that is El Ray.
Dungeness is a place like no other. Located on the Kent coast, this unique shingle headland offers a dramatic backdrop of desolate beauty. Despite the less-than-sunny weather during our time away, the barren landscape and moody skies added a mystique to our stay.
The kids were struck by the surreal landscape. It was quite hard to explain that this was considered a desert as well. Dungeness is a designated National Nature Reserve, and the shingle beach is adorned with peculiar relics, old fishing boats, and, of course, the iconic Dungeness nuclear power station. The contrast between the harsh industrial elements and the natural surroundings were incredible.
We spent hours exploring the expansive shingle beach, discovering unusual plants and swimming (me, no one else). It’s a great place to appreciate the beauty of untouched landscapes.
So we had a bit of help when it came to choosing the cottage we wanted to spend some time at. My friend Rachael had photographed Dungeness for a book dedicated to the landscape and interiors (you can see some of the pages in my pics). El Ray really stood out.It turned out to be a hidden gem within this unique setting at the end of the road – near the power station. This design-led Airbnb offers a cosy stay for families seeking a memorable getaway, with incredible news. The sunrises were just beautiful to watch through the French windows. You were at one with this incredible landscape.
Stylish Interior: El Ray’s interior is a blend of modern design and vintage charm. The minimalist yet cozy decor was perfect for our family, and it made us feel right at home.
Family-Friendly Amenities: Traveling with kids can be a challenge, but El Ray made it a breeze. The property was equipped with toys, games, and even a well-stocked kitchen for preparing meals.
Spectacular Views: What truly sets El Ray apart is the breathtaking view of the Dungeness landscape from the comfort of your accommodation. We spent evenings snuggled up by the window, watching the ever-changing scenery.
Given the British weather, we had good days, rainy days, but really windy days. El Ray is on the shingle beach, so I sent them to collect stones with holes to make art sculpture a la Derek Jamain, before running back to the house for some comfort. And yes Louise is able to collect anything! I only included one picture of her collection.
However, there is plenty to do around. Rye is a must visit – we usually park at the bottom of the hill, next to the kids’ park. We also managed to make a trip to Great Dixter the day before it closes for the winter. Strolling through the vibrant, meticulously designed gardens was a delight. Vibrant blooms, whimsical topiaries, and the captivating history of this horticultural masterpiece, made it a memorable family outing. Probably needs a whole post on the visit.
Our journey in Dungeness wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the iconic Prospect Cottage, the former residence of the legendary filmmaker Derek Jarman. The kids were fascinated by the striking black exterior, the poetic garden, and the profound connection between art and nature that Prospect Cottage represents. It inspired me to paint my office shed in black, wondering if I can even add a touch of yellow on the windows – or is that a step too far?
Despite the unpredictable weather, our weekend getaway to Dungeness, and our stay at El Ray, was great. This remote, otherworldly location offered a unique experience for our family. Dungeness is totally worth going to. And El Ray provided the perfect base for day trips.
If you’re planning a weekend away in the UK and need an escape from the ordinary, I highly recommend considering Dungeness and the one-of-a-kind El Ray. It’s a trip your kids will be talking about for years to come!
Remember, adventure knows no weather forecast, and Dungeness is a testament to the beauty that can be found even when the skies are gray. So, pack your bags, gather your little ones, and head to this captivating corner of the UK for an unforgettable weekend getaway.
More of our UK adventures here.