Park Gate Down Nature Reserve
This superb Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), now known as the Hector Wilks Reserve, is an area of ancient chalk grassland on the east side of a dry valley with a wealth of wild flowers. Some are unusual such as slender bedstraw, adder’s-tongue fern, columbine, musk orchid and the scarce late spider orchid - a Kent speciality. As a consequence of this diverse range of flora, there are butterflies aplenty such as brown argus, common blue, marbled white and ringlet.
In 2007 the site was re-named Park Gate Down -The Hector Wilks Reserve in honour of Kent Wildlife Trust’s founder member and former chairman, who was responsible for creating a stronghold in Kent for the very rare monkey orchid which is also found here. The surrounding woodland and scrub attracts many feeding and breeding birds including nightingale, green and great spotted woodpeckers, yellowhammer, linnet, whitethroat, garden warbler and the occasional hawfinch, sparrowhawk and hobby.
Access to the reserve is normally unrestricted but it is important to keep to existing paths to avoid trampling the flowers. At peak times a warden is on site to give advice and guidance and to protect the orchids. Dogs must be kept on a lead.
Open all year - best time to visit is between May and August.
Location: Lies between Stelling Minnis and Elham, Cantrrbury, Kent CT4 6NE
From Stone Street (B2068) drive through Stelling Minnis and take a left turn on a sharpright hand bend, then take the next three turnings to reach Farthingsole Farm. From there, drive through woodland to find the reserve on the left. Vehicles must be parked well off the road near the entrance gate.