Corporate report

Kent's National Nature Reserves

Published 2 August 2014

Blean Woods

Blean Woods NNR is part of The Blean, the largest ancient broadleaved woodland in southern Britain.

Main habitats: woodland

Area: 90 hectares

Management: partnership of Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Woodland Trust, with input from Canterbury City Council, Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council

Features of interest

The Blean is the largest ancient broadleaved woodland in southern Britain. Hornbeam, hazel, beech, oak, birch and sweet chestnut grow on the reserve, while brambles, bracken and bluebells are dominant on the woodland floor. Plants such as common spotted orchid, common centaury and St John’s wort are found in the woodland rides.

The Blean is home to many forest birds such as woodpeckers, tree creepers and nuthatch. Spotted flycatcher, nightjar, bullfinch and hawfinch are also seen here and there is an important population of nightingales. A lucky visitor in summer might hear the sweet fluting song of the golden oriole, an occasional summer rarity.

The woods are one of the few areas in Britain that supports the heath fritillary butterfly and the scarce seven-spot ladybird can also be found here.

There are 4 nature trails through the woods, ranging in length from 1.5 kilometres to 13 kilometres. One route is suitable for wheelchair access. Leaflets and information panels are available for visitor information. The nearest toilet and refreshment facilities are in local towns and villages; there is a picnic area on the reserve.

Directions

The reserve is west of, and immediately adjacent to, the A290, opposite Blean village.

By car, access to Blean Woods is via tracks from the A290. There is a car park on the reserve.

The nearest train stations are Whitstable (6 kilometres to the north), Canterbury East and Canterbury West (5 kilometres to the south east).

Regular bus services along the A290 between Canterbury and Whitstable are provided by Stagecoach East Kent.

Blean is also close to Route 1 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

Contact

For more information, contact the RSPB:

Email blean.woods@rspb.org.uk
Telephone: 0770 683971

Dungeness

Dungeness is one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world.

Main habitat: coastal, lowland grassland, maritime

Management: jointly owned and managed by Natural England and the RSPB (As well as the management by the RSPB, the Romney Marsh Countryside Project undertakes some management on behalf of Natural England.)

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Dungeness website.

Contact

RSPB

Email: dungeness@rspb.org.uk
Telephone: 01797 320588
Website: www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/d/dungeness/

Romney Marsh Countryside Project

Email: mail@rmcp.co.uk
Telephone 01797 367934
Website: www.rmcp.co.uk

Elmley

Elmley National Nature Reserve is home to large numbers of wintering wildfowl and breeding waders. This wide expanse of grazing marsh, divided by ditches and frequent shallow surface flooding, is at or below sea level.

Main habitats: coastal

Management: Elmley NNR is owned and managed by ECT (Conservation) Ltd.

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit is available on the Elmley Nature Reserve website.

Contact information

Steve Gordon, ECT (Conservation) Ltd
Kingshill Farm
Sheerness K
ent
ME12 3AW

Telephone: 01795 666014

Ham Street Woods

Ham Street Woods NNR is a remnant of an ancient forest that once covered the whole Weald after the last Ice Age. The woods are still managed in a traditional way, which help it support an outstanding collection of birds and moths.

Main habitats: woodland

Area: 97 hectares

Features of interest

Ham Street Woods is part of the larger Orlestone Forest, a fragmented area of woodland that is the remnant of a continuous oak forest that once covered the Weald.

As well as being one of the first National Nature Reserves to be designated in 1952, Ham Street Woods is nationally designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it includes a series of broadleaved woodlands supporting outstanding bird and invertebrate communities.

Ham Street Woods is home to rare moths (such as the triangle and silky wave moths), and butterflies (such as the White Admiral); breeding birds, including rare ones such as the nightingale and hawfinch; and also to 2 protected species: the great crested newt and the dormouse.

Oak, sweet chestnut, birch, aspen and hornbeam flourish in the higher parts of the site, whilst in the damper soil of the valleys ash, hawthorn, hazel and alder are found. Hornbeam trees are easy to spot as they have been coppiced so have multiple stems. Wild Service, or ‘chequer’ trees are also found in the woods; they are an indicator of ancient woodland.

In spring the floor of the woods is filled with primrose, white wood anemones and bluebells, whilst autumn is the perfect time for appreciating the fabulous fungi and autumnal leaves.

There are 3 way-marked trails (varying between 2.5 and 5 kilometres) through the reserve. There is a map and information board at the entrance.

Directions

On foot

Two major trails pass through the reserve, the Saxon Shore Way and the Greensand Way.

By train

Hamstreet station is only 5 to 10 minutes walk (less than 0.5 kilometres) from the reserve.

By bus

Hamstreet village is well served by buses. See the Traveline website for details.

By car

The main entrance to the reserve is at the end of Bourne Lane in Hamstreet village, 10 km south of Ashford. There is a small car park at the end of Bourne Lane, and other car parks nearby in the village.

School and community groups

For information about the opportunities for school visits, to book an activity session or for queries, contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Volunteering

For information about volunteering opportunities contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Contact

For general enquiries telephone 0300 060 3900 or email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Alternatively, contact the reserve warden on 07920 471128.

High Halstow

The reserve is a complex mosaic of scrub and woodland habitat, dominated by hawthorn scrub and ancient oak woodlands, with regenerating elm woodland.

Main habitat: woodland

Management: RSPB as part of the Northward Hill reserve.

Contact

RSPB - Northward Hill reserve Telephone: 01634 222480 or email: northkentmarshes@rspb.org.uk

Lydden Temple Ewell

Lydden Temple Ewell consists mainly of old chalk grassland on the more inaccessible slopes with improved grassland on the clay cap and gentler slopes.

Main habitat: lowland grassland

Management: Lydden Temple Ewell is owned and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Lydden Temple Ewell page on the Kent Wildlife Trust website.

Contact information

Email: info@kentwildlife.org.uk
Telephone: 01622 662012

Sandwich and Pegwell Bay

Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve, with its spectacular stretch of fragile windswept coastline, including chalk cliffs, mud flats, saltmarsh and sand dunes, is internationally important for waders and wildfowl both on migration and over-winter.

Main habitats: coastal

Management: Sandwich and Pegwell Bay is owned by a range of organisations including Kent Wildlife Trust, National Trust, RSPB, Thanet District Council and Kent County Council, with the management led by Kent Wildlife Trust.

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Kent Wildlife Trust’s page on Sandwich and Pegwell Bay and Pegwell Bay Country Park website.

Contact

Tony Swandale Reserve Manager

Telephone: 01622 662012

Stodmarsh

Stodmarsh NNR is situated in the lower regions of the north Kent plain within the Stour valley.

Main habitat: an internationally-important mixture of reed beds, fens, ditches, wet grassland and open water

Features of interest

The reserve has the largest reed bed in the south east of England, which supports a range of specialised birds and insects. The reed beds are an excellent sanctuary for migrating birds such as swallows and house martins in the summer and starlings in the winter. Bittern, marsh harrier, kingfisher, great crested grebe, coot, moorhen, reed bunting, bearded reedling can all be seen.

The reserve supports a large variety of invertebrates (including dragonflies and moths) and rare plants. It also has a strong population of water voles.

Stodmarsh has over 6 kilometres of footpaths, including a circular walk around the whole site. There are short and long easy access ‘sensory’ trails at the Stodmarsh end of the reserve, both with wheelchair access.

For more information see the leaflet for this reserve.

Directions

On foot

Stodmarsh is on the path of the Stour Valley Walk

By cycle

Stodmarsh is on Route 1 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network

By train

The nearest station is Sturry, 5 kilometres to the south west.

By bus

Regular bus services along the A28 from Sturry to Upstreet are provided by Stagecoach East Kent

For additional details of bus services in the area go to the Kent County Council website

By car

The reserve car park is east of Stodmarsh village, located along the turn off between the Red Lion pub and the church. This car parking is free. There is additional pay and display parking by the Grove Ferry Pub (CT3 4BP) which can be found on Grove Road, south east of Upstreet.

School and community groups

For information about the opportunities for school visits, to book an activity session or for queries, contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Volunteering

For information about volunteering opportunities contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Contact

Email: Stephen.Etherington@naturalengland.org.uk
Telephone: 07767 321053

Swanscombe Skull Site

This small geological site is of national importance because of prehistoric fossils discovered here, including one of the oldest human skulls ever found in the UK.

Main habitat: geological.

Management: Swanscombe Skull Site NNR is managed by Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council.

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Swanscombe Skull website.

Contact

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council, 01322 385513

The Swale

The Swale National Nature Reserve is a grazing marsh that supports significant populations of waterfowl.

Main habitat: grazing marsh, coastal

Management: The Swale NNR is owned and managed by ECT (Conservation) Ltd

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit is available on the Elmley Nature Reserve website.

Contact

Steve Gordon, ECT (Conservation) Ltd
Kingshill Farm
Sheerness
Kent
ME12 3AW

Tel: 01795 666014

Wye

Wye NNR consists of chalk grassland and woodland on steep coombes.

Main habitats: lowland grassland

Features of interest

The site’s chalk grassland is notable for the range of orchids it supports, 21 species having been recorded including lady orchid, fly orchid and the rare late and early spider orchid and man orchid.

As well as grassland the reserve encompasses areas of scrub, woodland and over 3.5 kilometres of hedgerows; these habitats support around 50 breeding bird species including nightingale, hawfinch, lesser spotted woodpecker and kestrel.

Reptiles found here include adder, grass snake, slow worm and common lizard.

The reserve is renowned for its views over the Romney Marsh and Weald, and out to the Channel coast. The site is also widely known for landscape features such as the Devil’s Kneading Trough a dry, steep-sided valley formed by peri-glacial action near the end of the last ice age.

For more information see the leaflet for this reserve.

Directions

By cycle

Wye is on Route 18 of the National Cycle Network.

By train

The nearest train station is Wye.

By car

The reserve is 2 km south east of the town of Wye and 6 km north east of Ashford. By car, access to Wye is via minor roads from the A28. The reserve’s eastern boundary is marked by a minor road from Wye to the village of Hastingleigh and there is a car park on this road next to the reserve.

The post code for the reserve is TN25 5HE

On foot

Two trails pass near the reserve: the Stour Valley Walk and the North Downs Way National Trail.

School and community groups

For information about the opportunities for school visits, to book an activity session or for queries, contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Volunteering

For information about volunteering opportunities contact Joanna Carter on tel: 0300 0604645 or email: joanna.carter@naturalengland.org.uk

Contact

For general enquiries call 0300 060 3900 or email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Alternatively, contact the reserve warden on 07920 471128.