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A woodland walk with a difference

PUBLISHED: 16:12 22 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:12 22 March 2014

Badger sculpture

Badger sculpture

Archant

Enjoy the family friendly WildArt Trail of West Blean and Thornden Woods

Spring is at last upon us, so 
blow away the cobwebs with 
a stroll in Kent’s largest and most historic tract of woodland along its one-mile circular trail.

The WildArt Trail is an intriguing art 
and sensory experience featuring wildlife totem poles, ‘woody’ woodpeckers, 
giant willow woven creatures and arches and ‘log cabin’ insect homes.

Children’s art, from workshops held in local schools, has helped transform posts and tree stumps around the trail. In fact, there are surprises to be had at every turn.

The waymarked trail is in Thornden Wood, off the road between Tyler Hill and Greenhill between Canterbury and Herne Bay. This ever-evolving project was started by Kent Wildlife Trust in 2011, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the aim of encouraging more people to visit and appreciate the ancient woodlands.

The all-access hard track is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs and leads 
from the car park on Thornden Wood Road, which has designated spaces for blue badge holders and people with young children.

Artists have used natural materials to create sustainable, non-invasive artwork which blends into the surroundings. An example of this are the giant woven ants 
at the side of an ant hill formed from woodchip harvested from Thornden Wood.

The use of sustainable materials is essential on a Site of Special Scientific Interest such as this and means that the artwork can evolve and change through 
the years. As pieces begin to decay, new artwork can be created and installed.

West Blean and Thornden Woods nature reserves cover about 490 hectares - a significant part of the Blean Complex of more than 3,000 hectares (11 square miles), one of the largest concentrated tracts of ancient semi-natural woodland in England.

Kent Wildlife Trust works within a partnership of other owners and managers of Blean woodland, both local and national bodies, to establish and maintain a continuous nature conservation complex.

When the reserve was purchased by the Trust in 2003, almost 40 per cent was conifer plantation, 35 per cent was planted sweet chestnut coppice and only about 25 per cent was native broadleaved woodland.

Since then the Trust has worked hard 
to remove the conifers and allow natural regeneration of native species and habitats.

An annual coppicing programme is assisting the survival of the rare heath fritillary butterfly and benefit other species like white admiral butterfly, bluebell, wood anemone, nightingale, nightjar, long-eared owl, yellow-necked mouse and dormouse.

The WildArt Trail adds an entertaining new dimension to a woodland walk and with nature now springing into action, there’s no better time to experience it. n

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