CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

Fackenden Down: Kent’s hidden reserve

PUBLISHED: 08:53 20 July 2015

Fragrant orchids at Fackenden Down © Gareth Christian

Fragrant orchids at Fackenden Down © Gareth Christian

Archant

In a North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, overlooking the Darent Valley, lies a little-known, very precious nature reserve

Fackenden Down’s 14 hectares of high-quality chalk grassland, with areas of scrub and woodland, supports an array of fragrant, pyramidal and man orchids and the nationally scarce early gentian together with characteristic downland insect species, notably butterflies such as brown Argus, chalkhill blue and the rare dark green fritillary.

Originally gifted to us at Kent Wildlife Trust by the owner in 2003, the reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is set to expand significantly thanks to funding from WREN, the Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd.

Three neighbouring fields which total 17 hectares and formerly poor-quality arable land had been managed under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for 15 years and showed significant improvement in biodiversity in some areas, particularly those close to our SSSI reserve. Encouragingly, species such as fragrant orchid, devil’s-bit scabious and thyme had begun to colonise and spread.

However, in 2013, the Trust discovered that due to changes in levels of subsidy payments on such land, it was no longer proving economically viable for the-then owner, posing a significant threat to these fields with the possibility of them being reverted back to arable production.

Not only that, it also presented a threat to the integrity of the Trust’s existing reserve by sharing a long boundary with an area under intensive production. It would have been tragic to see the gains of 15 years of public investment in improving biodiversity and nature conservation lost in this way.

Then in February this year, good news came in the form of the funding from WREN and, coupled with a very significant donation from a supporter, the Trust has been able to complete the purchase of the fields.

In order to speed up the process of re-colonisation we will be using various techniques to establish chalk grassland species. This will include spreading species-rich green hay on strips of rotavated/disturbed soil; spreading harvested seed; and planting of individual plug plants in specific areas.

We also plan to provide additional fencing and gap up hedges and woodland strips in order to provide corridors for species, such as adder, to move more easily and safely through the site.

Management of these fields will be gradually integrated with the existing reserve by creating connecting gates between the SSSI and the rest of the land. Grazing animals will be able to move freely between the connected sites to encourage the transfer of species between sites.

We will also introduce a programme of monitoring aimed at measuring the progress of restoration and colonisation of key species.

Find out more

Although there is little public access to the majority of the new extension, much of the site can be viewed from the lofty panoramic vantage point of the original reserve which can be found in Fackenden Lane off the A225 between Shoreham and Otford. (TN14 7RS, OS map ref: 188 TQ 531605.)

Please note that there is no facility for car parking at the entrance. However, Shoreham village and railway station is just over one kilometre from the site.

In order to meet the on-going costs of managing the Fackenden Down extension, Kent Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to raise vital funds. If you would like to donate, please go to www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

w

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Kent Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Kent Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Kent Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

This characterful little country town draws history lovers from near and far. Let’s explore Churchill’s beloved Westerham

Read more
November 2018

From Napoleonic forts and wartime shelters to ancient chalk mines, we explore some of Kent’s underground visitor attractions

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Wandering through a festive market with mulled wine in hand is one of the pleasures of the season, so we have picked some of Kent’s best Christmas markets to do just that

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Steam trains, vineyards, tea rooms and a surprising maritime history. We take a look at all this and more on offer in tempting Tenterden

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Being so rich in history, it is hardly surprising that Kent is also a hub for hauntings and ghostly activity. We have gathered 9 of the spookiest locations in Kent to visit if you dare!

Read more

It may have been swallowed up by Greater London, but it still feels more like an idyllic Kentish village

Read more
October 2018

A small town with a friendly, village feel, West Malling is the perfect combination of old and new

Read more
October 2018
Monday, October 1, 2018

There’s still time to enjoy the autumn season with its plentiful harvests, half-term fun and glorious colours

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Explore the fascinating 600-year-old buildings and architecture of Cranbrook which was once an important centre for textiles

Read more

A popular choice for commuters, Sevenoaks has history, culture, a thriving high street and a reputation for being one of the best places to live in the country

Read more
September 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search