Know before you go
Parking informationThere is a small car park for visitors
Grazing animalsCattle, Sheep and Ponies are all present on the site throughout the year.
Medium mobility kissing gates, fence gaps, rambler gates, grassy, slopes, some steep slopes, slippery on exposed chalk
There are medium mobility kissing gates, fence gaps, and rambler gates. The surface is grassy with some steep slopes, the paths are slippery on exposed chalk when wet.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to August: Orchids, buzzards, and woodland spring flowers
About the reserve
As you leave the car park, you are greeted by Queendown Warren stretching from one side of the valley to the other. The reserve is a 76.5ha site containing a mixture of Chalk Grassland, open Pasture, and Woodland.
The core of the reserve is made up of several sun baked chalky slops on the Northern side of the valley, whilst the Southern side of the valley incorporates old pasture and arable farmland. These extensions were added in 2001 and are being managed to encourage colonisation of species from the core of the reserve and to restore the valley to a haven for wildlife. Crowning the reserve to the North of Matts Hill Lane is Potters Wood.
As you may have guessed from the name it was once a Royal Warren, established in the 13th Century for King Henry III wife, Queen Elanor. It is this rich history that has given the site the key characteristics which have shaped the core of the reserve. The presence of rabbits over hundreds of years have kept the grasslands open and allowed a tapestry of plants to knit themselves into the heart of the landscape. The open grasslands are home to an array of species, with ten species of Orchid recorded here, including; Lizard, Pyramidal and Fragrant Orchids, in late summer Autumn Ladies Tresses also make an appearance. However, the most impressive is that of the Early Spider Orchids which appear on the banks in April and May. A number of other chalk grassland species also call Queendown Warren home, and act as nectar sources and larval foodplants for the numerous butterfly species present on site. The Adonis Blue (emblem of Kent Wildlife Trust) was reintroduced to the site in 2002 and can be seen tumbling in the sky with the Chalk Hill and Common Blues on hot summer days, whilst Silver-spotted Skippers and their kin live up to their name by bouncing along the turf tenaciously chasing anything that crosses their path.
Potters Wood consists of a mixture of traditional Sweet Chestnut coppice and native broadleaved trees such as; Ash, Beech, Cherry, Hornbeam and Oak. The woodland is also home to a population of Adders, if you’re lucky enough you may spot some in the glades around the woods. In spring, the woodland floor is a purple and white haze of Bluebells and Wood Anenome, with pockets of Lesser Celendine and Wild Garlic adding to the aromatic mix. Wild Honeysuckle clambers through the understory whilst Orange-tips search the damper areas of the woods for Lady’s Smock upon which to lay their eggs.
Buzzards can be heard mewling overhead as they spiral higher and higher riding the thermals over the valley, and as dusk approaches Barn Owls float silently over the grasslands searching for their next meal. So whether you're here to enjoy the view, or to try and spot some of the rarer inhabitants, these banks offer the perfect spot to have a wander before sitting down to enjoy the tranquillity of nature, just a stone’s throw from the urban sprawl of the Medway Towns.