SITES IN THE KSCP PROJECT AREA
19. Hothfield Common Local
Kent Wildlife Trust, Ashford Borough Council
B - 523, 10
P D WT I E
Valley bog habitat, Hothfield Common
||Parking and main access on
Cade Road, Hothfield. From Ashford, take the A20 towards Maidstone. Turn
left onto Station Road, signposted Hothfield, then turn right into Cade
Road. GR 973458.
Encompassing Kent's last surviving valley bog and one of
its few remaining heathlands, Hothfield Common is a very special nature
reserve. Agricultural modernisation and other factors have led to losses
of these habitats, and left the common as an oasis for rare and
specialised wildlife, such as the sundew. Like the Venus fly-trap, this
tiny plant is carnivorous, enticing insects with sweet dew-like liquid on
its leaves, which then envelop its victim. Other bog dwelling plants
include bog asphodel and the sphagnum mosses which, when they die, form
the layers of peat in the mire. The bog is a sensitive habitat that must
not be walked on - please keep to the boardwalks on site. The reserve is
carefully managed, by grazing and other means, to conserve its plants,
insects (including many dragonflies, which can be seen in
summer) and other wildlife.
For site leaflets, guided walk details, educational
material and other information: Kent Wildlife Trust 01622 662012
||20. Larkey Valley Wood Local
Canterbury City Council
B - 450, 652
R - Chartham (1.75 miles), Canterbury East (2.5 miles)
P WT I
Root plate of tree blown down in Great Storm
Parking and main access entrance on Cockering Road:
take the A28 out of Canterbury, through Wincheap. After the A2 underpass,
take the next left, St. Nicholas Road. GR 124557.
The great storm that hit the south of England in October
1987 did widespread damage to woodlands across Kent. Larkey Valley Wood
suffered more than most but, in common with other sites, has recovered
well, demonstrating how powerful nature's processes
of regeneration can be. This ancient woodland's wildlife is as rich as
ever, including badgers, dormice, hawfinches, nightingales
and wild flowers such as wood anemone and violets. Where beech woodland
was lost in the storm, a natural mix of woodland is now regenerating,
while other areas are managed by coppicing.
More information: Canterbury City Council 01227
||21. No Man's Orchard
Owned by Chartham and Harbledown Parish Councils
B - 667
R - Chartham (1.5 miles)
Apple Day celebrations, No Man's Orchard
||Access: in Chartham Hatch
village, turn down Bigbury Road, then follow the sign for the North Downs
Way through the playing field, through the woods and into the orchard. GR
There are now far fewer orchards in Kent than there used
to be, when the county really was 'the garden of England'. What is more,
the orchards remaining have changed a great deal, the large, old trees
being replaced with modern dwarf varieties that make harvesting
easier. No Man's is one of only a handful of traditional orchards
remaining in the Stour Valley. It retains the large trees so valuable to
birds, insects and lichen.
Blossom, windfall fruit and wild flowers among the
grassland also attract wildlife, which visitors can
look out for from the comfort of the sculptural seating. With their
traditional fruit tree varieties and special place in local culture and
landscapes, old orchards like this should be conserved as living examples
of farming history, but are often difficult to protect.
Fortunately, this orchard has been purchased by two parish councils and is
being carefully managed as a place for the community to enjoy.
For volunteering and other information: contact
||22. Blean Woods National
RSPB, English Nature, Woodland Trust
B - 24
R - Canterbury W. (2 miles)
P D WT I L
||Parking and access: from
Canterbury take the A290, Whitstable Road. After 1.5 miles, turn left,
signposted Rough Common, then follow the signpost for the reserve on your
right. GR 122595.
This ancient woodland is one of the most extensive in
southern England, forming part of the Blean - a belt of several large
woodlands to the north and west of Canterbury of tremendous
Parts of this particular woodland are privately owned,
with restricted access, but most of it is an RSPB nature reserve, incorporating
areas owned by English Nature and the Woodland Trust. The site is perhaps
most notable for its colonies of the exceptionally
rare heath fritillary butterfly, and internationally important areas of
oak-hornbeam woodland. Blean Woods is also an excellent reserve for birds
including nightingales, nightjars, nuthatches and tree creepers.
Historically, the Blean was managed by coppicing which
has been re-established through much of the wood. Some of the sweet
chestnut coppice is being converted to mixed coppice and high forest -
habitats that support more wildlife. It may surprise
you to know that open areas with few or no trees are of great value within
the woodland as a whole, and are being deliberately
created. Here heather grows on the acidic soils, and these mini-heathlands,
characteristic of the Blean, are perfect habitat for
nightjars and other important species.
With traditional management, past and present, so much
in evidence, and such large areas of ancient
woodland remaining, the Blean as a whole cannot be underestimated in its
significance. It is, in its own way, as valuable as other more widely
known wooded areas, such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean.
For site leaflets, guided walk details and other
information: RSPB 01227 462491
Wood ant nest, Blean Woods
||23. Stray Lees
B - 4, 5, 100, 101
R - Canterbury West (2 miles)
Access: take the A290 into
Blean village. Access is via a public footpath just south of the Hare and
Hounds pub. GR126603.
Swathe of Lady's Smock, Stray Lees
The pasture here is one of the Stour Valley’s few
remaining grasslands on neutral soils that has not
been agriculturally improved. Stray Lees is semi-improved, retaining some
plants characteristic of neutral grassland, including grass vetchling. It
is also quite wet, due to the presence of the Sarre Penn stream, and
contains damp loving wild flowers such as water mint, fleabane and lady’s
smock, and many sedges and rushes. The site is also good for birds and
common butterflies. Scrub has invaded about half the site since regular
grazing stopped. Future management will involve clearance of some of this
scrub and grazing of the pasture.
More information: contact
||24. The Great River Stour at
Fordwich, and Westbere Marshes
B - 4, 5, 8, 29, X81
R - Sturry (0.25 miles)
Park in Sturry or Fordwich.
Access: follow public footpath from bridge over the river in Fordwich.
Volunteer reed cutting, Westbere
The section of the Great Stour east of Fordwich is
particularly good for exploring the river and nearby wetlands. There is
access via a circular walk which takes you right alongside the Stour, past
lakes and reedbeds, returning through Westbere. The area is most notable
for its birdlife - great crested grebe and pochard appear on the lakes in
winter, swans and herons can be seen in the wet meadows, and the rare
bearded tit lives in the large reedbeds.
More information: contact
||25. Stodmarsh National Nature
B - PO8 (Stodmarsh end) 8, 29, X81 (Grove Ferry
C - 1
P D WT I WC BH I
Wetland habitats, Stodmarsh
||Parking and access: Stodmarsh
end: from Canterbury take the A257 towards Sandwich. Pass Canterbury Golf
Club and turn left onto Stodmarsh Road. In Stodmarsh village, turn left
after the Red Lion pub and follow the sign to the reserve. GR 221609.
Grove Ferry end: take the A28 from Canterbury towards Margate. After
Upstreet village, turn right, signposted Grove Ferry. Cross the railway
and turn left after the Grove Ferry Inn - the reserve car park is to the left. GR
This internationally important wetland, with its lakes,
reedbeds and grazing marshes, seems like a very wild, natural place.
However, human industrial activity has played a part in its creation.
Although the land here would always have been a natural
wetland, flooded regularly by the Stour, from the 18th century,
work was carried out to control flooding and drain the land. In the 20th
century, many wetlands were lost as drainage became more and more
efficient, but the fate of Stodmarsh took a different turn due to the
opening of the Chislet colliery. The land began to subside above the mines
under Stodmarsh as early as the 1930s, and by the time the mine closed in
1968, this had led to large-scale flooding, and the creation of the lakes and reedbeds that make Stodmarsh so valuable for wetland
The reserve is perhaps most noted for its birds. Winter
visitors include ducks - shoveler, teal, widgeon - and waders - redshank,
snipe, and the rare and secretive bittern. In spring and summer, migrants
include reed and sedge warblers, and one of the reserve's resident
rarities - the bearded tit - is active. The site is also a stronghold for
the water vole, which sadly is in serious decline, due in part to the
widespread drainage of wetlands.
For leaflets, guided walk details and other
information: English Nature 01233 812525.
||26. Preston Court Farm
B - K10, 622
P WT I E
Preston Court Farm
||Parking and access: park in
Preston village next to the church at the end of Court Lane, and follow
waymarked paths. GR 238608.
Before the modernisation of agriculture, which led to
the drainage of many wetlands, much farmland alongside the River Great
Stour would have contained valuable wildlife habitats. Damp pastures,
ponds, wet woodlands and seasonally flooded meadows would have been home
to wetland birds, aquatic plants and amphibians. River wildlife such as
otters would also have benefited from these nearby habitats. At Preston
Court Farm, a scheme called Countryside Stewardship has been used to put
back some of these features along a particularly picturesque section of
the Stour. Trees have been planted and intensively farmed arable land
returned to pasture. Wetland birds are already enjoying these new habitats
and plants like marsh marigold are making a comeback.
Note: Current open access agreement ends 30/9/2002.
Educational and other information: contact
||27. Grove Ferry Picnic Site
Kent County Council
B - 8, 29, X81
P D I WC
River trips at Grove Ferry
||Parking and access: take the
A28 from Canterbury towards Margate. After Upstreet village, turn right,
signposted Grove Ferry. Cross the railway and turn left after the pub -
the picnic area car park is to the right. GR 236631.
This attractive site alongside the River Great Stour
offers visitors a lot more than just a picnic area. It's an ideal place to
take a riverside stroll, play games or go fishing.
Boat trips along the river depart from the nearby Grove Ferry Inn (contact
the pub for details). Three recreational trails - the Stour Valley Walk,
the Saxon Shore Way and the Wantsum Walks all pass through the site,
making this an ideal starting point for exploring the
surrounding countryside. The flat terrain also makes this an ideal area
for cycling. Just across the road is Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve -
an internationally important wetland. Grove Ferry also has some value for
wildlife - its meadows are managed to encourage wild flowers and insects.
For more information: Kent County Council 01622
||28. Clowes Wood
B - 25
C - 1
Parking and access: from Tyler Hill village, follow
Hackington Road towards Chestfield and Whitstable. The car park is on the
left at Gypsy Corner. GR 136629.
Small-leaved lime, Clowes Wood
The trees that grow in Clowes Wood in a sense tell the
story of woodlands in Britain. The small-leaved lime is a very uncommon
tree in Kent, and here grows only as a few very old coppice stools and new
saplings. However, this tree was once one of the commonest in southern
Britain. Before large scale clearances by Neolithic people, most of
Britain was shrouded in a primeval forest which we
now call the 'wildwood'. Analysis of fossilised pollen grains has shown
that the small-leaved lime was one of a few dominant trees in the wildwood
of southern England.
The coppice woodland here represents a much later
chapter - that of traditional woodland management that reached its peak in
the Middle Ages. The final episode - modern commercial forestry - now
dominates the wood in the form of plantations of fast-growing, non-native
conifers. Despite this there is still room for a lot of wildlife here,
including a wide variety of birds and woodland
More information: Forest Enterprise 01580 211044 or contact
||29. East Blean Wood National
Kent Wildlife Trust
B - 26
P D WT I
Parking and access: from
Sturry village, take the A291 towards Herne Bay. Turn right 2 miles after
the level crossing, into Hicks Forstal Road. The car park is 1 mile
further on. GR 193643.
Heath fritillary, East Blean Wood
This nature reserve forms part of the Blean, one of
England's largest and most important areas of ancient woodland. Many parts
of the wood are managed specifically to increase numbers of the rare heath
fritillary butterfly, by opening up glades and rides (wide tracks) and
encouraging heathy vegetation. Much of the site is managed by coppicing,
while in other areas, planted non-native conifers have been removed and
regeneration of natural woodland encouraged. In
spring, bluebells and wood anemone carpet the ground. Other wild flowers
here include sanicle, common spotted orchid, lesser
periwinkle and yellow archangel, while the key food plant for the heath
fritillary is common cow wheat. The reserve also has
a varied bird population and is a good place to see fungi in autumn.
For site leaflets, guided walk details and other
information: Kent Wildlife Trust 01622 662012.
||30. Pegwell Bay National
Nature Reserve & Country Park
Kent County Council, Kent Wildlife Trust
B - 94, 100, 101 (Country
Pk & northern section)
R - Minster (2.5 miles - Country Park and northern section) or
Sandwich (2 miles - southern section)
P D WT I WC BH
Saltmarsh habitat, Pegwell Bay
||Parking and main access: Country Park and northern
section - the Country Park is signposted from the A256 north of Sandwich (GR
343634). Southern section - from Sandwich town centre, take Sandown Road
and Guilford Road to the Sandwich Bay Estate (a toll is payable) then
follow Princes Drive north to the car park (GR 357591).
This large, internationally important nature reserve
encompasses a combination of habitats unique in south-east England. The
mudflats attract many migratory birds in winter, including
shelduck, redshank and curlew. On the saltmarsh grow
specialised plants such as sea lavender and a number of
rare grasses. Natural deposition of sand and shingle
has resulted in a superb ‘system’ of dunes and dune pastures (grazed
in winter) with many scarce, characteristic plants such as southern marsh
orchid and sea holly. The rocky shore and sea cliffs are home to rare
seaweeds and internationally important numbers of turnstones.
The Country Park is a good point from which to explore
the northern section of the reserve. The Country Park itself was once a
landfill site, which was covered in topsoil and planted with trees and is
now a wildlife haven in its own right. There is a waymarked trail around
the site and a hide ideally placed for observing the birdlife of the
mudflats and estuary. The dune systems are to be
found in the southern and central sections.
For guided walk details, leaflets and other
information: Kent Wildlife Trust 01622 622012.
||31. Reculver Country Park
Canterbury City Council, Kent Wildlife Trust
B - 26, 655
P L I E WC Visitor centre
Reculver towers and sea defences
Parking and main access: the country park is
signposted from the A299 Thanet Way - follow signs to the main car park.
The unmistakable Reculver towers (owned and managed by
English Heritage) mark a place important for its history, archaeology,
geology and wildlife. The geology of the sandstone cliffs is fascinating,
and visitors can see how erosion and coastal protection has shaped this
landscape. It was the threat of cliff erosion that persuaded local people
to demolish their parish church in the 19th century, leaving only the
towers, as a guide to ships. Further back in time, Reculver had been an
important settlement, first established as a Roman fort, then the site of
an Anglo-Saxon monastery, and later a thriving mediaeval village. Visitors
can enjoy cliff top walks or look for the wildlife inhabiting the cliffs
and beach. This is a good site to see coastal birdlife and seashore plants
and invertebrates. In the visitor centre are displays, leaflets and other
information about all aspects of the site.
Visitor centre opening times. October to March:
Sundays only, 11 am - 3 pm. April to August: Tuesday to Sunday and bank
holidays 11 am to 5 pm. September: Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 5
For more information: Visitor Centre 01227 740676 or
Kent Wildlife Trust 01622 662012.
in the Kent Downs AONB
||Sites in and Around Towns