1 June 2020
Visiting the Kent Downs AONB
Respect, Protect, Enjoy
We understand that in light of the latest Government guidance on safely accessing green spaces you may want to visit the Kent Downs AONB.
In this changing situation our priority remains the safety of our visitors as well as the 96,000 people living and working within the AONB so we encourage you to access greenspace locally where possible. We are looking forward to the time when we can welcome everyone back with open arms.
We’ve set out some simple steps for accessing the Kent Downs AONB safely over the coming weeks and months. We’ll update these as the situation changes and encourage you to also check guidance from organisations managing sites within the AONB (links below under ‘Check before you go’)
Follow social distancing
Always follow hand washing guidance and strict social distancing of 2m apart from others who are not in your household. Social distancing applies to any form of exercise such as walking, running or cycling or sitting or sunbathing. Where possible, please try to avoid busy or narrow footpaths where social distancing is difficult.
Check before you go
Over the coming weeks and months car parks and facilities will gradually re-open and we urge you plan ahead before you travel. Please don’t make any assumptions about what will be open and check with the organisation managing the site before travelling, for example a car park may be open but the toilets may not be. The main organisations who manage sites in and around the AONB are:
- Forestry Commission
- Woodland Trust
- KCC Country Parks
- Kent Wildlife Trust
- National Trust
- English Heritage
- Samphire Hoe
If car parks are closed, please do not park outside people’s houses or block roads.
Please stay local where possible and avoid known hotspots because if sites become crowded it will be impossible to safely socially distance. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, we encourage you to find an alternative or head home.
Take extra care on the coast
Please take extra care if visiting coasts or beaches and note there may not be an RNLI lifeguard. Please always follow RNLI guidance:
- Take care near cliffs – know your route and your limitations
- Have a plan – check the weather forecast and tide times
- If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
- If boating, ensure your equipment is functioning and maintained
- In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
Please also note that beach toilets and changing facilities may be closed.
If you can, travel by foot or bike, while maintaining social distancing. This means you’ll have a chance to experience our wonderful AONB as you travel, and you won’t have to worry about finding a car parking space.
Follow the Countryside Code
The Countryside Code is more important than ever, it sets out how visitors to rural areas can behave safely and responsibly, for example by keeping dogs under control, leaving gates as you find them, and not lighting fires or barbecues. Natural England has produced a video with an updated Countryside Code.
Support our rural communities and farmers
The Kent Downs AONB is nearly 70% farmland and it is a busy time for farmers across the Garden of England. There is concern amongst some farmers about the potential of transmission of the virus, for example from use of gates, people not physically distancing, people getting lost. In addition, farmers are under seasonal pressures and are extremely vulnerable to loss of staff from sickness. Support them and our communities by sticking to the path, keeping dogs on the lead around livestock, not picnicing on private land and taking your litter home.
Nature may have recolonised some areas so please tread carefully and look out for wildlife that has moved into unexpected places during lockdown. Please keep your dog on the lead and stick to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife.
Many rural businesses are now open online and we encourage you to shop with them. Visit Produced in Kent for a range of wonderful local producers and businesses delivering local produce and services and follow #helpkentbuylocal for updates.
Tag us in your photos @KentDownsAONB and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the hashtags #kentdownsaonb #kentdowns. We’d love to see your photos and we’ll be sharing photos of the landscape you love – the wildlife, the trees, the views, the cliffs, the rivers, the wildflowers and more.
Enjoy nature from your home
Nature can be a wonderful solace in times of crisis and uncertainty, here are some ideas for how you can remain connected with nature even if you are isolating at home.
Get to know the birds outside your window with bird identification from RSPB
Nature activities for kids
Learn about the wildlife around you
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, get outside and learn more about insects, flowers, and other garden wildlife. If you don’t have a garden, why not read up on wildlife and the places you can see it, ready for you to explore when it is safe to do so.
Virtual Views and Wildlife Cams
In accordance with latest Government guidance the Kent Downs AONB team are working remotely and will not be available on our usual office number. If you would like to contact us please email the relevant team member directly. Alternatively, email us firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you as soon as we are able.
The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team