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Covid-19 Update

28 July 2020

Visiting the Kent Downs AONB

Respect, Protect, Enjoy

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’).

Please be aware that the countryside is experiencing high numbers of visitors and make sure you keep up to date with the latest Government coronavirus guidance on visiting green spaces.

Follow social distancing

Always follow hand washing guidance and strict social distancing of 1m 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

Make sure 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.  You will need a ticket and allocated slot to visit some sites so check before you go.

The main organisations who manage sites in and around the AONB are:

If car parks are closed, please do not park outside people’s houses or block roads.

Avoid hotspots

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.

Travel sustainably

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.

Respect wildlife

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.

Support local

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.

Stay Connected

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.

Garden Birdwatching

Get to know the birds outside your window with bird identification from RSPB

Nature activities for kids

The Wildlife Trusts have some great ideas for nature-based activities including making a bird feeder, a mini nature reserve, and making a butterfly painting.

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.

Kent Downs AONB Living Things and Habitats Activity Sheets

Amphibians and reptiles – Froglife

Bugs – Buglife

Butterflies – Butterfly Conservation

Garden wildlife- RSPB

Plants – Plantlife

Plant identification – Botanical Keys

Trees and woodland plants – Woodland Trust

Biodiversity-rich habitats in the Kent Downs AONB

Virtual Views and Wildlife Cams

VisitKent Castle Experience

Virtual tour of the North Downs Way section by section

Wildlife Cams from the Wildlife Trust

Contacting us

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 mail@kentdowns.org.uk and we will respond to you as soon as we are able.

 

Stay safe,

The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team