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Kent Gardens
Scientific Sites
Rivers & Canals

Kent has two beautiful Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Kent Downs and the High Weald, and they stretch across approx. one third of the county. The county is known as the Garden of England because of its wealth of farming and crops, including fruit and hops. Some 67% is agricultural. Kent has the largest area of semi natural woodland of any county in Great Britain.

The Kent Downs form the eastern half of the North Downs, following the chalk ridge from the London and Surrey borders through the county to the iconic White Cliffs at Dover.
This is a diverse and vibrant landscape with its dramatic chalk escarpments, secluded dry valleys, networks of tiny lanes and historic hedgerows, ancient woodlands, traditional orchards, downland villages, unique and precious wildlife and many sites of historic and cultural interest to explore.
All these make up a landscape that is such a valuable national asset that it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1968.
As well as covering the Kent part of the North Downs, the AONB includes part of the Greensand Ridge, Romney Marsh and Heritage Coast. The towns and villages of the High Weald all have their own particular charm. Kent has some of the most unspoilt countryside in the British Isles and amidst the wealth of tourist attractions and much-visited spots are some undiscovered gems.
In the Elham Valley around 40 different wild flower species grow per square metre. Some 6,876 km/4,273 miles of public rights of way criss-cross the rural landscape wonderful for walking, riding and cycling. Dungeness is the largest shingle beach in Europe. You can find around one third of all UK plant species growing among the pebbles of Dungeness. It took 80 million years to form the White Cliffs of Dover from billions of crushed shells, sea-dwelling plants and animals. The White Cliffs are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest: home to many species of birds, wildlife and flora,
including a unique type of sea cabbage There are six wetland sites important for bird life along the coast of the Thames estuary to Thanet. Kent has more conservation areas than any other county in England. There are over 500 sites of interest for nature conservation account for nine per cent of land. You can take time out at more than 80 country parks, picnic sites and nature reserves.
Kent has some of the most unspoilt countryside in the British Isles and amidst the wealth of tourist attractions and much-visited spots are some undiscovered gems.
Wandering off the beaten track and exploring the winding footpaths that have been trodden for millennia is one of the great joys of a visit to Kent.
The huge range of wildlife, from the deer of the woods around Challock to the orchids of the North Downs, awaits discovery.
The towns and villages of the High Weald all have their own particular charm.
Tenterden has the added delight of a steam railway which winds its way along the Rother Valley and over the border into Sussex, with its final stop within sight of the imposing castle at Bodiam.
Kent has some of the most unspoilt countryside in the British Isles and amidst the wealth of tourist attractions and much-visited spots are some undiscovered gems.
Ashford
Hemsted Forest
Bedgebury Office, Goudhurst, Cranbrook, TN17 2SL Opening times: Always Hemsted Forest, mainly comprised of coniferous trees, and provides a lovely background for relaxing walks. The site is particularly popular with dog walkers and horse riders. Hemsted is a working forest, so please obey all warning signs.
Toys Hill
Toys Hill is a National Trust managed area, very popular with locals in the area. Use the marked car park, and head off to enjoy lSOha of heath and woodland. There are waymarked walks, including a route suitable for wheelchairs. It provides spectacular views of the countryside, spread out before you to the south. It was an area which was much loved by one of the National Trust's founders, Octavia Hill.
Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest
Park Lane, Goudhurst, Kent, TN17 25L Tel: 01580 879820 Fax: 01580 212423 Web: www.forestry. gov.uklbeduebury Bedgebury is the perfect place for cycling, walking, riding and playing in a spectacular world of trees. The National Pinetum is a world-class collection of dramatic conifers and a beautiful setting for a country walk in all seasons. The two thousand-acre Bedgebury Forest offers miles of family cycling, mountain-biking, riding, walking, Go Ape and adventure play for all ages and abilities. The Visitor Centre has cycle hire, refreshments and showers. As a location for healthy outdoor activity in a beautiful setting, Bedgebury is in a class of its own.
Wye National Nature Reserve
Wye, Nr Ashford Wye National Nature Reserve has a beautiful & varied landscape of chalk downland, woodland Bc scrub on the steep slope of the North Downs. The reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, including moths, insects and orchids that are important for both national and international conservation efforts. There is plenty of opportunity to enjoy a walk around the reserve thanks to the Public Rights of Way passing through it. Located near to the reserve is the Devil's Kneading Trough - a popular local attraction, Bc one of a series of narrow dry valleys cut into the North Downs.
The Warren
Warren Lane, Ashford, TN23 The Warren is a predominantly semi-ancient oak woodland. However, it also features areas of acid grassland, glades, neutral grassland, a large pond & sand quarries, which make for a more varied experience. The site is home to many birds, such as nightingale, kestrel, spotted flycatcher, sparrow-hawk, water rail, cuckoo and tawny owl. Reptiles, such as grass snakes, can also be found at the Site.
Parkwood Picnic Site
Appledore. Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Parkwood Picnic Site is famous for its magnificent Spring display of bluebells, which carpet the woodland. It's a Site of Nature Conservation Interest, and boasts an amazing diversity of flora and fauna typical of this woodland habitat. Plants include wood rush and St. John's Wort. The woodland also hides a very large, rare, wild service tree. Some areas are actively coppiced, which creates habitats for nesting nightingales, nuthatches, green Bc great spotted woodpeckers. The site also offers panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.
King's Wood
Off White Hill, Challock, Ashford King's Wood has all the ingredients of a great family day out, with picnic spots and children's play areas. The unusual play structures represent creatures of the forest, and have been specially designed for younger children. This ancient woodland site is home to a diverse range of flora & fauna. To enjoy the best of the forest, take the 'Beech Walk', which leads past the unusual sculptures dotted around the site. The main species of trees found at King's Wood are sweet chestnut, corsican pine, and douglas fir.
Hothtield Common
Cade Road, Hothfield, Ashford, TN26 1HA Hothfield Common is the last substantial area of heathland and lowland valley bog left in Kent. It supports a range of wildlife specific to this type of habitat. The common is home to heather, sand wasps, sundew, bog asphodel and orchids, as well as many other species. The site also comprises areas of mature beech Bc oak woodland. It is due to its unique landscape and wildlife that Hothfield Common is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Hamstreet Woods National Nature Reserve
Hamstreet Hamstreet Woods National Nature Reserve was one of the first National Nature Reserves in the country. The spectacular ancient woodland is the perfect place to take relaxing, tranquil woodland walks. The site makes use of the numerous footpaths, bridleways and long distance trails that run through the reserve, to offer a variety of routes to enjoy. It also has an easy access route for those with mobility problems. The reserve is unusual in that it is still actively managed in a traditional way. Because of this management, it attracts an outstanding collection of birds 8c moth:
Cuckoo Woods
Stanhope Road, Ashford, TN23 SRF Cuckoo Woods is a patchwork of semi-natural woodland, with a small pond and remnants of arable fields. The woodlands are comprised of mixed broad-leaved species, mainly oak, ash and field maple.
Ashford Green Corridor Nature Reserve
Ashford Ashford Green Corridor Nature Reserve is an attractive retreat where visitors can relax Bc enjoy the local wildlife. The Great Stour floodplain runs through urban Ashford and provides valuable green space and wildlife habitats. Most of this area is designated as a local nature reserve, BC supports much wildlife, including voles, kingfishers and bats. Visitors to the reserve can enjoy a walk or cycle ride along most of the corridor. The site also boasts a children's play area.
Ashford Community Woodland
Singleton Hill, Bucksford Lane, Ashford, TN23 SWE Ashford Community Woodland boasts stunning views of Ashford and the distant downs. The site consists of a band of mixed broad-leaved woodland, and large areas of recently planted community woodland BC rough grassland. The woodland is home for a number of birds including skylarks BC yellowhammers. Many species of butterfly can also be seen here.
Canterbury
Blean Woods National Nature Reserve
Blean, Nr Canterbury CT2 9BP
Opening times: Open all the time (car park hours Sam to 9pm)
One of the largest areas of deciduous woodland in south-east England, Blean Woods has a wealth of wildlife for you to discover. Around thirty five pairs of the fabled nightingale sing, beautifully, each spring, from
dense coppice that is also home to willow warbler, blackcap and garden warbler. The 180-year-old oakwood holds three species of woodpecker as well as nuthatch, tree creeper, tawny owl, woodcock & many other common species. The heathland is home to nightjar, tree pipit and
whitethroat. In summer the wide rides and sunny glades are alive with butterflies and other insects. And in June, look out for the very rare
heath fritillary butterfly - whose caterpillars feed on cow-wheat.
East Blean Woods National Nature Reserve
opening times: Always The site covers 122 hectares of ancient semi-natural woodland. Carpets of bluebells and patches of heather are found in the acidic areas; while orchids and other species are located in more alkaline areas. Butterflies and nesting birds, including warblers and woodpeckers, are just some examples of the diverse wildlife found at the reserve.
Grove Ferry Picnic Site
Up street Opening times: 9am to dusk Directions: Turn off the A28 (Canterbury to Margate Road) just east of Upstreet onto Grove Road. The entrance to the site is on the left, just after the road crosses the railway line. Grove Ferry is an ideal spot for picnicking in the meadows, or fishing in the River Stour. Fishing rights were granted during the reign of Henry II and are still available today. Some of the fishing swims (sections of the river where fish are found) have been adapted for those with disabilities. It's a good base for walking the Stour Valley Walk, the Saxon Shore Way or the Wantsum Walks, and is adjacent to Stodmarsh National Reserve. you can also take a pleasant boat trip along the serene River Stour from the
Reculver Country Park
Reculver, just off the A299 Thanet Way between Herne Bay and Birchington. Reculver Country Park is home to a large and diverse collection of plants and wildlife. The park has open grassland, cliff and shoreline, and the variety of habitats support a wealth of important flower and grass species, as well as wildlife. Reculver Towers can also boast considerable historical and important archaeological value, and a few remains of the Roman fort can also be seen.
During the summer months nearby Grove Ferry Inn.
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve
Stodmarsh, Near Canterbury Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve covers 241 hectares of varied landscape comprising reed beds, grazing marsh 8c lagoons. There are several bird hides located on the reserve, and these are great places to spot the abundance of bird life that enjoys the habitat. There are a choice of footpaths running through Stodmarsh, including 2 easy access nature trails. The Stour Valley Walk and the Saxon Shore Way long distance walking routes also connect with the reserve.
Dartford
Darenth Country Park
Gore Road, Dartford Opening times: Summer: gam to half hour before sunset (latest 9.3Opm) Winter: 9am to 4.3Opm. Opened as part of the millennium celebrations, on what used to be the old hospital site. It is home to a scheduled ancient monument, as it was once used as a Saxon burial ground. A number of graves & artefacts have been discovered during excavations. The park is also listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with environmentally managed meadows of wild flowers, & a spread of pasture for grazing. Its site on the edge of the North Downs, overlooking the Darent Valley, gives some wonderful views across the local countryside.
Beacon Wood Country Park
Southfleet Road, Bean
Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Directions: The park is located one mile south of the 42 on the B255, close to Bean village. Beacon Wood Country Park is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest, which has year round appeal. It is home to some rare and unusual species of animals and plant life, & the ponds in the lower part of the old pit area are home to dragonflies, newts, & frogs. It was originally an industrial site, and it's still possible to stumble across foundations of various buildings & the old railway lines. There are the old gunpowder buildings, for example, & the clay that was extracted from the pits has left a legacy of gravel mounds, sandstone beds, and exposed fossils. The area, known as the Woolwich Beds, has large expanses of rock made predominantly of marine animal shells, & its not uncommon even to find items as rare as sharks teeth along the cliffs in the middle of the pits. Around the edge of the park, native trees such as oak, sweet chestnut, and ash, grow above bluebells, wood anemone, and dogs mercury. Nearer the pits, silver birch & aspen are now thriving. Birds, including sparrow hawk and green woodpecker, share the clear air with the likes of common blue and small heath butterflies, whilst foxes and grey squirrel lurk below.
Darenth Woods
Wood Lane, Dartford Close to the large Bluewater Shopping Centre lies the 300 acres of ancient coppiced woodland known as Darenth Woods. Its a pleasant place to walk, with a good mixture of trees and wildlife.
Dartford Heath
Upper Heath Lane, Dartford Dartford Heath is over a hundred hectares of beautiful scenery, filled with an interesting mixture of wildlife. It boasts ponds, wooded areas, scrubland, lowland heath, and rough common land, all of which provides a diverse choice of habitats to attract an equally diverse mix of animal, bird, plant, and aquatic life. It has a long and interesting history, being used by citizens of Dartford for centuries. It's also the site of the first ever recorded cricket match, way back in 1723. Howzat!
Christmas Tree Farm
Cudham Road, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7LF Tel: 01689 861603 Situated approximately 150 metres from the centre of Downe Village and close to Down House (former home of Charles Darwin). Christmas Tree Farm is the ideal place for everyone from children to grandparents. Children will delight in being able to come into close contact with many varieties of animals, sheep, goats, donkeys, ponies & smaller animals such as rabbits, chicks and ducklings, all of which you may feed. After your visit you may wish to relax in the Tea Gardens where you can try one of our cream teas. Or if you prefer something different other snacks and refreshments are available. Also for sale at the farm: Plants, shrubs & hanging baskets, free range chicken and duck eggs and rabbits and hutches.
Lullingstone and Preston Hill Country Park
Kingfisher Bridge, Castle Road, Eynsford, DA4 OJF Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Directions: Off the A225 between Eynsford and Otford, Lullingstone Park is well signposted, just beyond the entrance to Lullingstone Castle. Preston Hill can be accessed from Lullingstone Park. Lullingstone Country Park is set in the Darent Valley, and has wonderful open grassland that fills with wildflowers in Spring. Lullingstone is internationally important for its collection of ancient trees, with over 300 veteran oak, beech, hornbeam, ash and sweet chestnut, some of which are thought to be 800 years old. The park also has many areas of chalk grassland that are filled with spectacular displays of orchids and other colourful Wild flowers in summer. The visitor centre offers excellent facilities including a café, toilets and shop. It has a comprehensive range of information about the park's landscape, wildlife & heritage. An excellent guide is available for a 6.5 mile circular walk from the centre, passing through the village of Shoreham. Preston Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, & is open to the public subject to certain restrictions. In the summer months Preston Hill is covered with wild flowers, and busy with a variety of butterflies including chalkhill blues and dark green fritillaries. The grassland is grazed by the park's own herd of feral goats, which came from the Great Orme, near Colwyn Bay in North Wales.
Dover
Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Strand Street, Sandwich Gazen Salts Nature Reserve offers around one and-a-half miles of footpaths, winding through a variety of habitats, including lakes) reedbeds & a meadow area. The area provides a safe roost for many birds in winter, and is home to a small collection of pinioned wildfowl.
High Meadow
Dover, CT16 1JT High Meadow is a beautiful area of chalk downland offering some fantastic views across Dover and the surrounding countryside. There is good road access to the relatively flat top section of High Meadow.
Kearsney Abbey Gardens
Alkham Road, Dover The beautiful gardens at Kearsney Abbey provide a peaceful spot to relax and enjoy nature. The gardens are laid out as informal park land, and are based around two ornamental lakes that the River Dour flows through. The Abbey itself was demolished many years ago, but the west wing remains and is now used as a café facility for visitors to the park. The site is popular at all times of the year, but especially in the summer time when the lawns become a favourite picnic site. A play area for children is available 8c the lower lake is used for model boating.
Russell Gardens and Bushy Ruff Country Park
Alkham Road, Dover Opening times: Park is open all day The attractive Russell Gardens & games facilities make a fun day out for the family. Situated on the opposite side of the road to Kearsney Abbey and is laid out in a more formal style. Facilities are available for tennis & putting (seasonal), and a play area is provided for children. Bushy Ruff Country Park is is set around a lake at the western end of the recreation grounds. The pleasant natural surroundings make it a delightful place to enjoy a walk. There is also an open space for dog walkers.
Samphire Hoe Picnic Site
Off the A20 From Dover to Folkestone, and through the tunnel under the cliffs. Opening times: 7am to dusk. Samphire Hoe Picnic Site is an amazing man-made site, built using the spoil dug during the making of the Channel Tunnel. Enter it through a long tunnel under the White Cliffs, and enjoy the perfect place for peace and tranquility of a wilderness by the sea. It has a wealth of wildflowers, birds and wildlife, and a series of marked walks allow you to make the most of your visit. All the time, you are under the imposing cliffs) and surrounded by the power of the sea. It's a truly unique place.
South Foreland Valley
Adjacent to the Coastguard Station, betwen Dover and St Margarets. South Foreland Valley is an area of chalk downland offering some fantastic views. From the stretch of cliff top you can look out across the channel to France, as well as enjoy views of St. Margarets Bay and the impressive surrounding area. Its a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its chalk flora, and invertebrates.
Western Heights Nature Reserve
Western Heights, Dover The Western Heights Nature Reserve is carved into a hill, and is an interesting place, which is full of surprises. It is surrounded by chalk meadows that are full of colourful wild flowers, butterflies and birds. There are also some splendid views of the English Channel. One of the largest and strongest Napoleonic fortresses in the country is located at the site.
Gravesham
Trosley Country Park
Waterlow Road, Meopham, DA13 OSG Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Directions: The park is signposted off the 4227 between Meopham and Wrotham, near Vigo village. Originally part of Trosley Towers Estate, the modern day Trosley Country Park is 170 acres of chalk downland and wooded areas, nestled on the edge of the North Downs. The open areas of chalk grassland & the woodland both attract an interesting but varied wildlife. There are areas designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and it supports a fabulous display of butterflies in the summer. These include the wonderful Chalkhill Blue. Grazing animals have been introduced to manage the grassland in a natural way, & the park's two marked walks treat you to some amazing sights. The easier of the two trails meanders through the densely wooded area, with its abundant wildlife. More ambitious hikers will enjoy the downland walk, which offers panoramic views across the Weald. There is ample opportunity to explore the local area too, as the Public Rights of Way networks are well connected. The North Downs Way runs right through the park, 8c the Wealdway Walk is also close. A particularly interesting feature of Trosley is the recent extension to its visitor facilities. Thehe timber building won the Kent Design Award in 2005, and is constructed from sweet chestnut from the park's own woodland. The building is designed to be environmentally friendly & includes a water recycling system, natural ventilation & a living, green roof.
Shorne Woods Country Park
Brewers Road, Gravesend, DA12 3HX Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. A large ancient woodland site with a new, modern visitor centre, Shorne Woods Country Park is a great place to explore. There is lots to see and do at this extremely popular site. It's a Site of Special Scientific Interest that lies within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are 288 acres of woodland to enjoy. The park is a mixture of chestnut coppice woodlands that are full of wildflowers in the spring, ancient woodland with towering old trees, open meadows to play and picnic in, 8c ponds and wetlands that are home to dragonflies in the summer time. There are views of the Thames from the open grassland at the park's highest point. Shorne Woods is renowned for its fungi and blue bells and the woodlands are full of wildlife including dormice and bats. Enjoy the displays in the visitor centre; one of the waymarked trails; the sensory garden; or relax with a picnic in one of the areas of open grassland. And for those looking for a more active experience, try the Trim Trails exercise equipment. The park offers a number of features 8c facilities which help to provide easy access to the site. These include an easy access trail, a sensory garden and electro-scooters (free loan for those that have pre-booked a training session with the park).
Ashenbank Wood Ancient Woodland
Off Halfpence Lane, Cobham Located within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashenbank Wood comprises 30 hectares of ancient woodland. As well as the dense areas of trees, the site has some open grass areas and ponds. During the Second World War an RAE camp was constructed in the wood. Some of the original structures still remain from this period. The site is also home to a bronze age barrow. This item is of national importance and has been classified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Maidstone
White Horse Wood
Opposite the County Showground, on Detling Hill Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. White Horse Wood is Kent's newest country park, offering beautiful countryside, local history and panoramic views. The site hosts the medieval ruins of Thurnham Castle, which are easily explored. Within the park boundaries there are also traces of an Iron Age settlement, which provide further historical interest. Located within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the park is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. Over 20,000 trees have been planted at the site including oak, ash, silver birch, wild cherry and crab apple. Five hectares of land has been seeded to create an area of open grassland.
The Larches Picnic Site
At the bottom of Detling Hill, along the Pilgrims Way from Jades Crossing. Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. The Larches Picnic Site is a peaceful location surrounded by beautiful countryside. It is an unusual site as access to it is only possible on foot. However, the remoteness of the site creates a tranquil atmosphere, that makes it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a gently stroll through the woodland and downland.
Teston Bridge Country Park
Teston Lane, Teston, ME1S SBX Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Teston Bridge Country Park is the ideal place for a family day out by the river. There is plenty to keep children busy with a large open, green space to run around in, and an enclosed area with children's play equipment. The site is also the venue for two annual kite flying festivals, which take place in July and August. On the eastern bank are the picturesque ruins of Tutsham Mill, which are covered in ivy. Teston Bridge is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest BC attracts many different forms of wildlife. Birds such as kingfishers, terns BC snipe can be seen from time to time. And during the summer months, bats including pipistrelle, noctule and daubenton glide up and down the banks searching for air-borne insects. The site is named after Teston Bridge, an historic medieval bridge over the River Medway. The bridge needed to be widened in 1749 to allow barges to sail to Maidstone after the river was made navigable. Teston Lock was built in 1911 and beside it is one of the last weirs on the Medway (Most of the weirs were removed in the 16th Century because of the severe flooding they caused).
Mote Park
Off Mote Avenue, Maidstone, ME15 7SU Opening times: Depending on time of year from dawn to dusk. Mote Park, Maidstone's largest park, is set in 450 acres of historic parkland. Within walking distance of Maidstone town centre it offers a pleasant and relaxing enviroment, making it a great place to spend the day. There are a range of sports facilities including football pitches, a pitch and putt course, and horse riding is allowed in the park for those with permits. A large lake in the middle of the park supports a large variety of water fowl, and offers opportunities for sailing, angling and model boating.
Maidstone Millennium River Park
St Peters Street, Maidstone, ME16 OSX Maidstone Millenium River Park was created by the people of Maidstone, with help from the Millenium Commission. The park hugs the banks of the River Medway from the Teston Bridge Country Park to Allington. It offers 10km of easily accessible and well maintained paths, and is linked by three nationally acclaimed pedestrian bridges. The park features a rose garden and a roofed ampitheatre. The creation of the park led to the planting of 1500 new trees in Maidstone.
Hucking Estate Woodland
Off Church Road, Hucking The Hucking Estate Woodland site offers stunning views from the edge of the North Downs. Purchased by The Woodland Trust in 1997, the estate comprises 232 hectares of woodland, farmland BC open ground habitat. Since the purchase a considerable amount of tree planting has been undertaken on ex-arable land. Older, traditionally coppiced woodland can also be seen at the site.
Medway
Riverside Country Park
Lower Rainham Road, Gillingham, ME7 2XH Opening times: Winter: 8.30am to 500pm Summer: 8.30am to dusk (8:30 latest). Riverside Country Park is an excellent site for Winter birdwatching. Situated alongside the Medway Estuary at Gillingham, the park is made up of many different habitats, including reedbeds, ponds and grassland. There is plenty of green space for walking, picnics, and children to play - making it a great place to visit for a fun day out. The park offers good and accessible viewpoints from where you can look out over the North Kent Marshes.
Cliffe Pools
Bromhey Farm, Eastborough, Rochester, ME3 8DS Cliffe Pools is a great place to go for fantastic views over the North Kent Marshes, walks in a beautiful setting or to enjoy the birdlife. The site comprises a mixture of large salt water lagoons, fresh pools and grassland. This environment attracts a considerable number of birds, particularly waders and wildfowl. It is also a good place to see water voles, harvest mice and an array of insects. Cliffe Pools is a relatively 'young' and developing site.
Northward Hill RSPB Reserve
Bromhey Farm, Eastborough, Rochester, ME3 8DS Opening times: 9.OOam to dusk The oak and scrub woodland of Northward Hill Reserve makes for an excellent birdlife experience. The site includes the UK's largest heronry, and little egrets can also be seen. Trails lead through the reserve and then on to open hilltop viewpoints that offer excellent views across the North Kent Marshes.
Blue Bell Hill Picnic Site
Blue Bell Hill, Rochester Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Located within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blue Bell Hill Picnic Site offers magnificent panoramic views over the Medway Valley. The diversity of the landscape makes the site an ideal spot for both walkers and picnickers. The area forms part of the 10km stretch of chalk escarpment between Wouldham and Detling that has been classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. And it boasts a range of terrain including woodland, scrub and chalk grassland.
Sevenoaks
Dryhill Local Nature Reserve
Dryhill Lane, Near Sevenoaks Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Tel: 01732 823570 Directions: From Sevenoaks, A25 towards Westerham. After the flyover - left into Dryhill Lane. Dryhill Local Nature Reserve is on a former quarry site, and the landscape makes it ideal for families and amateur geologists to explore. The quarry closed in the 1950's and since then nature has reclaimed the site, creating woodlands that are ideal for picnics. Located in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dryhill is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The exceptional structure of its rocks and fossils have led to it becoming the first 'geological' Local Nature Reserve in Kent. Quarry work on the site exposed exceptional rock formations of hard, sandstone. These rocks are called the Hythe Beds and are thought have to been deposited approximately 115 million years ago.
Stubbs Wood
Nightingale Lane, Sevenoaks Opening times: 9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Tel: 01732 823570 Directions: Off the B2042, Cold Arbour Road. Turn left into Nightingale Lane. Stubbs Wood is located within the Kent Downs Ares of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and offers visitors fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. From the Gravesend ridge there are many superb views over the Weald and Bough Beach reservoir. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, the park is home to many rare animals and plants. English oak and beech tress dominate the woodland; although holly, whitebeam, ash, chestnut, & rowan are also here. In the areas of ancient woodland you'll find a wide range of species including bluebell, wood sorrel, yellow archangel Bc ramsons. Unusually for Kent, there are some areas of heathland with heather, bilberry, bracken, heath bedstraw, wavy hair grass and heath speedwell.
Shepway
Lyminge Forest
Off B2068 Stone Street at Stelling Minnis Forestry Commision land with car park, and paths through a managed forest. The area has many tall Pines, and gives an air of a Scandanavian forest, and has a timeless charm that makes it a charming place to visit in all seasons.
Peene Quarry Picnic Site
Peene Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Directions: From the A20, turn off at Newington, go through Peene and turn left at the junction. Located in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Peene Quarry is home to a variety of rare flowers and insects. Part of the Folkestone to Etchinghill Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest, the main feature of the site is the large area of chalk grassland on the steep-sided slopes. In Summer the grassland is covered with rare flowers and herbs, including cowslip, vetches, thyme, rock rose and a range of orchids. These plants attract butterflies such as the common and chalkhill blues; blue and green hairstreak; marbled whites; & the, nationally scarce, adonis blue.
Brockhill Country Park
Sandling Road, Saltwood, CT21 4HL. Off Junction 11 of the M20, and follow signs towards Saltwood. A popular family-orientated park, with lots to offer. Brockhill Country Park was previously part of a large estate that dates back to Norman times. The old manor house is now part of the Brockhill School, & is located next to the park. Pleasant walking year round, with its open grazed valley fringed with many large specimen trees. A stream runs through the centre of the valley, & the park is rich in wildlife, including marbled white butterflies, green woodpeckers, carpets of snowdrops & even bamboo left over from its days as a Victorian pleasure garden. It is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and has three distinctive areas to explore:
'The Deer Paddock' is an attractive grassy area with trees,such as walnut & sycamore.
'The Lake' is a shady oasis for wildlife, with intruiging paths under the canopy of trees.
'The Valley' is the largest area of the park, with alder trees along the Brockhill stream.
A large, man-made lake forms the centre of the site. Two small islands sit within the lake and the larger is the final resting place of William Tournay, the last lord of Brockhill Manor.
Royal Military (Hythe) Canal
Hythe to Rye across the Romney Marsh. The Royal Military Canal is a unique military monument built between 1804 and 1809 to protect England from invasion by Napoleon. A £3.35 million restoration programme on the eastern section of the canal has provided a range of new and enhanced facilities for all to enjoy. The canal corridor provides a 7km stretch of footpaths and bridleways from Seabrook Outfall to West Hythe Dam. Both ends of the canal have free car parks & useful interpretive panels explaining the importance of the habitat for the wildlife, some of which are national rarities.
East Cliff and Warren Country Park
Off Wear Bay Road, Folkestone. One of Kent's best kept coastal secret's, the Warren Country Park is a dramatic wilderness caused by centuries of cliff falls and landslides. Explore the labyrinth of paths through the dense wooded areas, catching occasional glimpses of the white chalk cliffs towering above. The area has wonderful wildlife, and is a nature lover's paradise. The beach and cliffs are also a favourite with fossil hunters, with many interesting exhibits being found. Just around the bay is Folkestone's East Cliff, with the first three Martello Towers on top. These were a line of defensive towers built to protect against a threatened invasion by Napoleon.
Swale
Oare Marshes listed as being under threat.
Oare, Near Faversham Oare Marshes comprise sheltered marshland and mudflats that provide a superb habitat for many birds. The site is important for the breeding of wetland birds, as well as its appeal to migratory birds. The marshes are best observed from one of the site's hides.
Capstone Farm Country Park
Capstone Road, Gillingham, ME7 3JG Opening times: 8.30am to Sunset Capstone Farm Country Park covers 114 hectares of former farmland on the North Downs, and is a popular site with families. The park contains a variety of habitats, including ancient woodland and meadows. It is the venue for many varied events throughout the year.
Elmley Marshes
Elmley, Isle of Sheppey Opening times: 9.ooam to sunset. Closed Tuesdays. Elmley Marshes is a nationally important area of coastal grazing marsh that supports a large variety of wildlife. The site also comprises smaller areas of saltmarsh, brackish water pools and fleets. The grassland provides a home to wintering populations of wigeon (a species of international importance) & impressive numbers of teal, shelduck, shoveler and pintail. Elmley Marshes is also one of the best sites in the UK to see wintering raptors. The grazing marsh is located within the North Kent Marshes Environmentally Sensitive Area & supports the highest density of breeding lapwing and redshank in South East England. The site also supports twelve invertebrates that are rare in the UK.
Thanet-Margate
St Mildred's Bay – Sea Road, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, CT8 8TR
Sandy bay with promenade, cliffs and tidal pool. Tidal bay except on spring tides. Tennis, putting and public house with restaurant nearby. Facilities include lifeguards, First Aid station, cafes, toilets, parking, bay inspector/information and chalets for hire. Disabled access to the beach and disabled toilets open all year. Blue Flag Award 2009
Margate Main Sands - Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XJ
A sandy beach with a promenade, boardwalks and traditional donkey rides. A very popular resort bay just a couple of minutes from Margate train station and the town. Facilities include lifeguards, First Aid station, cafes, toilets, deckchairs and sun loungers for hire and amusements. Disabled access and toilets nearby at Buenos Ayres. Quality Coast Award 2009
Westbrook Bay - Royal Esplanade, Margate, Kent, CT9 5DL
A sandy beach of approximately 200 meters with a promenade. Designated water ski area with Strokes Adventure Golf, bowls and tennis nearby. Facilities include cafe, toilets, lifeguards, First Aid station, chalets and deckchairs for hire. Disabled access to the beach with disabled toilets. Quality Coast Award 2009
West Bay - Sea Road, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, CT8 8QG
This sandy bay with rocky areas and cliffs is great for sandcastles and exploring rock pools. There is a Cafe open in the evening, perfect for meal and drink whilst watching fantastic sunset views. Facilities include lifeguards, cafes, toilets, bay inspectors/information, chalets for hire and public house nearby. Disabled access to the beach with disabled toilets open all year. Blue Flag Award 2009
Minnis Bay - The Parade, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9QP
This long, rural sandy bay features rocky and shingle areas as well as a promenade and paddling pool. The local sailing club offers windsurfing, seal watching trips and kite board lessons. Disabled access to the beach with disabled toilets is open all year as well as disabled parking bays. Blue Flag Award 2009
Walpole Bay - Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent, CT9 2HL
Walpole Bay includes Palm Bay, Hodges Gap and Foreness Point. It is a popular water- sports bay 400 meters long with a sandy beach and promenade. Facilities include lift, toilets, lifeguards, chalets for hire, Jet Ski hire and parking. Golf, putting, tennis and indoor bowls nearby. Blue Flag Award 2009
Leysdown, at the East tip of the Isle of Sheppey, is a traditional seaside resort with a range of amusements, souvenir shops and a variety of cafes, takeaways and pubs. Running parallel to the main street is the "Spinny", a grassy picnic area with attractive flower beds and a children’s play area. This is an award winning sandy beach, which is perfect for a family day out with its shallow waters and excellent facilities.
Westgate-on-Sea was the subject of a famous poem by Sir John Betjeman and the first place in England to test electric street lighting. It is an elegant Edwardian resort with stunning sunsets over the sea.
Tonbridge
Haysden Country Park
Off Lower Haysden Lane, Tonbridge.
Tel: 01732 844522
This 170 acre Country Park owes much of its character to the Haysden & Barden lakes and the River Medway. Visitors can spend time exploring both the Nature & Historical Trails, or simply enjoy a stroll or cycle in the countryside. The park also has a children's play area and an outdoor picnic area. With two lakes and a stretch of the River Medway running through it, the park is a popular venue for water activities. There are interesting nature and historical trails and fishing.
Tudeley Woods
Hadlow Place, Tonbridge, TN11 OBW Managed by the RSPB, the impressive Tudeley Woods Reserve features one of the largest areas of semi-natural ancient woodland in South East England. The site is home to a range of birds including all three species of the British woodpeckers. In Spring bluebells and primroses cover the ground, creating a picturesque environment. The area has been greatly modified by a history of coppicing, plantings & the effects of the Wealden iron industry. A large area of the site is currently being restored as lowland heath.
Oldbury Hill Picnic Site
Signposted from the A25, Near Igtham Common Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. 01732 823570 This delightful site comprises a mix of woodland, & has strong, visible links to the past. The area is home to a huge Iron Age fort, that was built sometime between 150 and 50 BC., and located within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Manor Park Country Park
St Leonard's Street, West MaIling Opening times: gam to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. 01622 817623 Once part of an 18th Century estate that was created by Thomas Deuce, Manor Park is an attractive location with plenty for children to enjoy. It has a large, open green space, children's play area, and an attractive lake. Located just a short walk to the south of West MaIling town centre, visitors can take relaxing walks through meadows that are often grazed by rare breed cattle. Manor Park is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest with a variety of native trees. The lake and the surrounding copses support an abundance of wildlife, including swans, coot, moorhen, mallard and dabchicks. In the area of the park bordering St Leonard's Street, lies the remains of the ice house - a brick building that was used to store ice from the lake, for use in the kitchens of the estate throughout the year. In the summer the Ice House Field comes alive with flowers, including dog daisy, buttercups, and the unusual 'hay rattle'. Hay rattle is a small, yellow flowering plant that has seeds in small pouches, and, when dry, these rattle in the breeze.
Tunbridge Wells
Calverley Gardens
Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1QY Opening times: Weekdays 7.30am to dusk Weekends 9am to dusk Located in the centre of Tunbridge Wells, close to the main railway station, the Calverley Gardens have attractive lawns spread over the side of a gently sloping hill, with ornamental gardens that are always colourful and well tended all year round. The higher end of the park has bowls, tennis, and volleyball courts, as well as some pleasant paths with views across the town. There is also a good cafe, next to the Victorian bandstand.
Dunorlan Park
Pembury Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 3QD Opening times: 7.30am to dusk Located on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells, Dunorlan Park is a spacious and elegant site, very much befitting the Royal spa town. Visitors are able to enjoy its wide grassy slopes and magnificent views across the park's lake, to the Weald. The park has a putting green, an events field and a cafe, and, in the summer, boating takes place on the lake.
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