Hothfield Heathlands

Hothfield Heather

Photo by Ian Rickards

Hothfield Heathlands

Beth Hukins

Wood pasture at Hothfield Heathland

Photo by Ian Rickards

Cattle grazing at Hothfield

Photo by Ian Rickards

Cardinal beetle on a leaf

Photo by Ian Rickards

Hothfield Heathlands


Rich in flora and fauna, this important reserve contains Kent's last four valley bogs and one of its few remaining fragments of open heath.


Cades Road, Maidstone Road (A20), Hothfield
TN26 1HD

OS Map Reference

TQ 972 459

A static map of Hothfield Heathlands

Know before you go

86 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Large car park with 2m height barrier.

Bicycle parking


Grazing animals

Cattle ponies and sheep at various times of the year. Please see information boards for current livestock location.

Walking trails

Yes, 4 waymarked routes, including the all-access, all-weather Triangle Trail.


Large car park which has a compacted sand/ gravel surface with a reasonably flat surface (expect some potholes).  Access from the car park onto the reserve is across a small road and then through a large kissing gate.  The kissing gate provides enough space for a wheelchair, however, the surface within the kissing gate does get eroded, making an uneven surface. From the car park, you can also directly access our all-season accessible Triangle Trail.

When you are on the reserve, the paths are natural compacted sand but will get wetter and more eroded as you travel further from the car park and during periods of heavy rain. Most of the paths travel over uneven ground and holes from rabbits and dogs can appear anywhere.

There are four marked circular routes, these are indicated with waymarker discs on wooden posts.

Please note that there are no toilet facilities at this reserve.


On a lead

In order to protect our wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds, dogs must be on leads across all areas of open habitat (heather, grassland, scrub). Dogs may remain off lead but under control within the woodland areas.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times. Volunteer work parties take place at Hothfield Heathlands on Tuesdays and Thursdays (and 2nd Sunday of the month Sep-Mar) undertaking habitat management. Be aware that essential management can sometimes be noisy and if you are concerned it may disturb your visit consider visiting on a different day. If you would like to get involved, please visit our volunteering page.

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

A visit to Hothfield Heathlands is a visit to one of the last remaining heathlands in Kent. After walking through a narrow canopy of broadleaved trees, you break through to reveal the wide-open landscape of Hothfield Heathlands. The spring will bring with it the fresh green growth of Heather, gorse and a myriad of tiny plants. 

The coconut scented gorse bushes provide the perfect perch for many bird species, Yellowhammers, White Throat and Willow Warblers all sing boldly from these prickly bushes. Make sure you keep an eye on the floor too, the finger-sized holes of the minotaur beetle are scattered liberally across the bare ground, while the metallic Green Tiger Beetle will be buzzing vigorously around your feet. 

A series of waymarked paths allow you to explore most of this unique site, with boardwalks allowing access to some of the wettest parts of the reserve. These wet bogs are home to a wonderful collection of rare plants, many of whom are found only at Hothfield.  Carnivorous Round Leaved Sundew, cotton grass, bog asphodel and heath spotted orchids are amongst the most dramatic.

The reserve is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust on behalf of Ashford Borough Council. 

Our new Triangle Trail at Hothfield Heathlands is a 500m all weather accessible trail, with a smooth even surface path, regular passing places and some gradual slopes. 

Find out more


Most works will be halted during bird breeding season, with the following works continuing in September 2023.

Scrub Removal

With our Precious Peatland project, we will be carrying out lots of scrub removal from across the reserve.  There will be large excavators carrying out this work, so please keep a safe distance and follow the instructions on any signage. If you have any questions about this work, please contact the Area Manager on

The most vigorous scrub species are birch and alder, adapted to grow very quickly from seed, they are the pioneer species that would pave the way for the site becoming a woodland.  

Woodland is a very important habitat, and Kent Wildlife Trust manages thousands of acres of woodland across Kent.  However, quality heathland and bog, the main habitats at Hothfield, are not found anywhere else in Kent. Losing this area to woodland would wipe out hundreds of species that would not survive under a canopy of trees.

The trees also have a further detrimental effect on the bogs, sucking up thousands of gallons of water, drying out the peatland.  Once the bogs lose their moisture the peat dries up and the carbon stored for hundreds of years gets released back into the atmosphere.

Path Improvements

We will also be carrying out path improvements on the rest of the reserve, using sand to raise some of the muddier paths and making them easier to navigate over the winter.  We will also be having a new boardwalk installed.

Fencing works

We will be replacing some of the more dilapidated fences, making sure our cattle, ponies and sheep are safe and secure.

Volunteer Work

At the same time, our wonderful volunteers will be carrying on with the winter work across the reserve. Tree popping birch from the heathland, repairing fences, building dead hedges, fixing paths, looking after the livestock and all the other work that this tireless gang carry out.  

The volunteers are out every Tuesday and Thursday and also the first Sunday of every month.

Contact us

Ian Rickards
Contact number: 01622 662012

Location map