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Exploring the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve

PUBLISHED: 11:56 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:56 11 October 2016

Pegwell Bay is great for seal spotting (pic: Tony Flashman)

Pegwell Bay is great for seal spotting (pic: Tony Flashman)

Tony Flashman

Wintering waders, wildfowl and other spectacular wildlife await at the wonderful Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve. Words by: Ray Lewis

With the official opening of the Kent stretch of the England Coast Path this summer there is now new access around the wild Sandwich Peninsula 3.4 miles (5.5km). This new circular walk takes in amazing history and landscapes with great views over the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve (NNR), over the River Stour and to the cliffs beyond.

The reserve is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust and is home to internationally important populations of breeding and wintering waders and wildfowl plus other spectacular wildlife. It is, understandably, a Mecca for dog walkers.

Dog owners know how important it is to keep their pets safe and healthy and it’s also important to do the same for the birds and special wildlife living along the coast.

People can still access and enjoy the foreshore between The Viking Ship and Ramsgate. However, the coastal access proposals will ask people to keep to the undercliff area when inside the NNR, and to keep their dogs on leads in this very sensitive wildlife area. This will help to provide a quiet refuge for wild birds.

There are also areas nearby where people can enjoy walking their dogs off the lead. These include several beaches in Ramsgate as well as the old Hoverport landing area. Dogs are also very welcome at Pegwell Country Park.

Recent public events for dog walkers at Pegwell Bay organised by Natural England, Dorset Dogs, Thanet Coast Project and Kent Wildlife Trust, reinforced the views that most dog walkers do enjoy the wildlife here and understand any local restrictions.

The reserve employs grazing livestock such as Highland cows and wild Konik ponies (pic: Ian Andrews)The reserve employs grazing livestock such as Highland cows and wild Konik ponies (pic: Ian Andrews)

Officially opened on 19 July 2016, this is the first coastal access stretch of the England Coast Path in the south east, running from Camber in East Sussex to Ramsgate and creating 66 miles (106km) of joined-up, quality coast path, connecting coastal communities.

The England Coast Path will be a waymarked 2,795 miles (4,500 km) long National Trail, around the whole of the English coast, passing through some of our most stunning, dynamic, challenging and famous coastal scenery.

It will link iconic places on the coast with the less well known and will unlock some parts of our coast for the first time.

It is opening in sections and will be completed in 2020, when it will become the world’s longest continuous coastal walking route.

Respect the countryside code

To help protect the wildlife and the livestock on its reserves, Kent Wildlife Trust is calling on its dog walking visitors to adhere to the countryside code:

• When walking across reserves keep your dog on a short lead at all times near

grazing animals. This should also be the case from early spring to end of July

when ground-nesting birds are likely to be present.

• You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths as long as it is under

close control, and remains on the path. But as a general rule, keep your dog on

a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience.

• Finally - everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and how it can cause infections.

Always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly.

Note: Dogs on leads are allowed on many Trust reserves. If in any doubt, then please visit our website kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

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