An early start as we needed to get to New Romney where we were to catch the 0935 train to Hythe and Dungeness. The Railway is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway which is a state-of-the-art 15 inch (38 cm) gauge railway that was designed in 1927 and has continued to run every year since. These small gauge trains are little gems and are a 1/3 size of the standard gauge steam trains. They in fact were used during the 2nd World War taking materials and men along the coast to guard and construct defences. All the necessary gear was carried on these little fellows.
We boarded on time and with a toot on the horn we were away. Our first stop was at Hythe where many new passengers were ready to board the carriages. There were 20 to 25 carriages attached to the engine and quite a few were reserved for school children who were travelling on the train as a school excursion. Following our trip to Hythe, the train returned to New Romney and after many had disembarked, we set off further on the line south to Dungeness. Dungeness is a small community at the end of the land that protrudes into the English Channel. This is a place like no other. Designated as a National Nature Reserve and a Special Area of Conservation it is one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world. The desolate but intriguing scenery stretches as far as the eye can see and captivates the hearts and minds of all who spend time there.
Dungeness is the only desert in the UK and as you enter via the train you see before you desolation. Shingles everywhere, no trees, scattered houses, the Nuclear Power Station, desolation. But, people pay big money to live there. Any house that comes onto the market is snapped up. The status as a Special Protection Area controls the area and no new development is allowed and one can demolish an old house of fisherman’s hut but must build a new construction no bigger than the previous one to protect this valuable but vulnerable environment. It is hard to realise why anyone would wish to live here. It must be the actual isolation that draws them here.
We were actually glad to leave Dungeness behind as we started to return to New Romney where our coach waited. We had to then hurry off the train and board our coach for we had a 1315 Plough Lunch appointment on the train at the Kent and East Sussex line. We arrived 10 minutes early and were shown to our reserved seating. Our time at lunch on the train was most relaxing as we trundled along behind our engine that, at various times, sounded the horn and belched smoke as it took up the challenge of the load that was within. A great trip and Lunch was had by all and we headed back to Tunbridge Wells for a drink and dinner.