You probably took your first, eager steps around your first birthday, but as you get older, spend a lot of timing avoiding the need to walk! Yet walking can make us all feel so good that we know we should do it more. As Spring has now sprung and Summer is on its way, why not put on a comfortable pair of shoes and get out to enjoy the beauty of the North Kent Downs?
The “Walk the Chalk” walking festival is for everyone! From May the 4th to 11th a series of guided and self-guided walks are being promoted through the project’s website. The Old Chalk New Downs Project is working to protect and restore the beautiful chalk downland on our doorsteps and wants to share this marvellous natural asset. So, what are you waiting for?
From Aylesford to Eynsford, in Halling or West Malling you can find a walk to suit your needs. Whether you fancy a Trosley Ramble, a Luddesdown Trek or even a rail trail from your chosen station, there is a walk to entice you out into the fresh air.
Whether you walk for half a mile or half a day, there is a route on our list to suit most interests and fitness levels, children, dogs or wheelchairs and buggies. If you like wildlife watching or historical monuments, ancient woodland or river views, the Kent countryside has so much to offer of interest that you will be spoilt for choice.
We’ve had a long, dark winter so it should take little to encourage most of us to get out into our local beauty spots. The landscape changes so much with each seasons. You don’t have to walk far to see something that makes you feel good and if you are curious, there may be much to learn as well.
On a short walk in any parish you will most likely come across evidence of historic settlements, built heritage, nature reserves and ancient woodland. Industrial history of the area ranges from the manufacture of Bronze Age shale bracelets through quarrying to brick and cement works and wharfs and tramways. Not forgetting the occasional quirky pub or charming teashop at which to replenish those expended calories!
Nature surrounds us wherever we walk. Together with our partner organisations, the OCND project is working to provide a better place for those rare chalkland species and those who enjoy them. There is so much to appreciate along the way, whether its grassland orchids, woodland birds or the numerous pollinating insects busy in their work. Kings, Queens, Archbishops and Pilgrims have all enjoyed our surrounding countryside over the centuries, so why not take their cue.
Much of this amazing landscape is manmade. Mankind has made an impact on this land, through woodland clearance for farming and grazing. Now, as we benefit from this natural asset, we must all take care of it and ensure its careful conservation for future generations.
Chalk downland is now a very rare and fragmented habitat and of international conservation importance. Old Chalk New Downs will help increase opportunities to engage with and protect the natural environment, will train and support students of all ages in nature conservation activities and will create, expand and restore historical chalk grassland sites.