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Looking for something to do?
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 20:07

HCC is looking for volunteers who would be interested in helping us.

There are lots of ways in which we need help, maybe you would be willing to do a couple of hours path clearing a year, pulling up some of the more invasive weeds, mailing newsletters, or helping to put up posters around the villages to advertise events?

If you occassionally have a few hours to spare we would really appreciate your help

Contact Karen, Ruth or Jon (email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and help keep the Heaths Countryside Corridor sites usable for everyone

 

 

 
A Sweetly Watered Place
Written by Sally Evans   
Monday, 13 August 2012 08:46

SWP_Performers

 

Even the great British summer couldn't dampen spirits as performers played out the history of Chilston Park and how the changes that have taken place have lead to the development of the Heaths Countryside Corridor and how the HCC sites are being managed to provide a haven for both wildlife and local people into the future.  Chilston Park Hotel provided a fantastic backdrop to the day and a barbeque was then laid on for both the performers and the audience.  

The theme was the water that surrounds this historic estate in the form of ponds, lakes, springs and streams - how it led to habitation here since prehistoric times and has contributed to quality of life ever since.  From opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming to supporting a thriving wildlife population, this has always been a ‘Sweetly Watered Place’.

The ice pond on HCC’s land was once an integral part of the estate, the hydrology of which will have changed considerably since the building of the M20.  
(Drury map excerpt,1802 map, possibly alongside present day map marking the ice pond?)
The ‘Memories Event’ which was a pre-cursor to the play fed some fascinating anecdotes into the performance, bringing the place to life:  
(Pic of Memories Event.)  
for example Nobby Colbran remembers being not sure what to do with his rifle after WWII and eventually deciding to sink it into the ice pond! (then ‘The Lily Pond’) Other local people remember fishing for perch in the ice-pond and sheltering in the ice pond when it rained – something that wouldn’t be possible now as the structure is full of earth.    
(pic of swan on Lily Pond)
What is clear is that this has always been a popular place and that HCC’s work to conserve it is fully appreciated following the dramatic landscape changes that have occurred in the area.  
To view the full script click here:  
To view the song-sheet for the event click here:  
Here’s another memory:
FROM SALLY ALEXANDER (Retold by Lesley Feakes)
In the twenties/thirties the younger members of the family used to go to London on the train in the evening.  When they returned, they were met at the station by the horse and cart from the estate.  
The driver liked to spend his evenings in the White Horse.  
One winter’s night, he was very drunk when he went to the station, but relied on his horse who, he said, knew the way.  Once in the park, he was asleep and the horse did get them home.
The next morning, they discovered that the tracks went right over the frozen ice-pond!  What a lucky escape . . 
Some info from Lenham in Old Photos:  (Chilston info 1 to 4) 
Do you have any memories of the area and it’s wildlife?  We’re always interested to learn more about this special place . . (link to contact).

Local people formed a key part of the performance which was led by Gail Duff of TRADS (Traditional Folk Arts), also based in Lenham.  The performance enabled the audience to come face to face with several Lords and Ladies of the Manor who gave their recollections of living at the Grand Estate.  It involved dance and song, some time-travelling school children, a gang of smugglers and a lively group of native mammals! The theme was the water that surrounds this historic estate in the form of ponds, lakes, springs and streams - how it led to habitation here since prehistoric times and has contributed to the quality of life ever since.  From opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming to supporting a thriving wildlife population, this has always been a ‘Sweetly Watered Place’.  The ice pond on HCC’s land was once an integral part of the estate, the hydrology of which will have changed considerably since the building of the M20.  

Click on the images below to see them in full size

Viscount_Chilston_discussing_changes_to_the_main_house_with_his_builder Bowler_Hat A_native_mammal

icon Download the Sweetly Watered Place Script (214.34 kB) 

icon Download the Sweetly Watered Place Song Sheet (2.5 MB)

Memories Event

The ‘Memories Event’ which was a pre-cursor to the play fed some fascinating anecdotes into the performance, bringing the place to life: for example Nobby Colbran remembers being not sure what to do with his rifle after WWII and eventually deciding to sink it into the ice pond! (then ‘The Lily Pond’) Other local people remember fishing for perch in the ice-pond and sheltering in the ice house when it rained – something that wouldn’t be possible now as the structure is full of earth.  

Click on the images below to see them in full size. 
The_Lily_Pond_c._1900 Memories_event Drury_map_excerpt Chilston_1802 Chilston_Pines_and_Ponds
What is clear is that this has always been a popular place and that HCC’s work to conserve it is fully appreciated following the dramatic landscape changes that have occurred in the area.  
Here’s another memory:
FROM SALLY ALEXANDER (Retold by Lesley Feakes)In the twenties/thirties the younger members of the family used to go to London on the train in the evening.  When they returned, they were met at the station by the horse and cart from the estate.  The driver liked to spend his evenings in the White Horse.  One winter’s night, he was very drunk when he went to the station, but relied on his horse who, he said, knew the way.  Once in the park, he was asleep and the horse did get them home.The next morning, they discovered that the tracks went right over the frozen ice-pond!  What a lucky escape . . 
Some info from Lenham in Old Photos: 
Click on the images below to see them in full size.
Chilston_info_1 Chilston_info_2 Chilston_info_3 Chilston_info_4
Do you have any memories of the area and it’s wildlife?  We’re always interested to learn more about this special place . . . This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 
Bat and Newt Evening
Written by Fred Grosvenor   
Monday, 21 May 2012 09:13

Katia Bresso of the Kent Bat GroupThe Heaths Countryside Corridor joined forces with the Kent Bat Group and the Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group on Thursday 17th May to learn all about the bats and amphibians that make Chilston Ponds their home.

Somehow we managed to avoid the worst of the weather and, not only was it not raining, but the temperature was just about warm enough to lure the bats out of their roosts.  Katia Bresso of the Kent Bat Group gave a short talk about the ecology of bats before the sun went down and bat detectors could be used to pick up the echolocation calls of the animals themselves.  Soon enough, pippistrelle bats could be seen as well as heard in the descending gloom.  We were able to identify both the common and soprano pippistrelle bats which are both protected, like all bats, by European legislation.

The ice pond at Chilston Ponds was also surveyed with the help of the Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group using powerful torches and although we are now approaching the end of the newt breeding season, great crested newts and smooth newts were both found with females laying eggs on the aquatic vegetation on the pond.  It was great to see that wildlife is thriving in a historic landscape and I can't wait for the Sweetly Watered Place event coming up on July 1st.

Fred.

 
Enjoy an afternoon in the grounds of Chilston Park Hotel
Written by Mike Phillips   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 11:12
Sweetly Watered Place PosterThe Heaths Countryside Corridor will be breaking new ground and holding an interpretive play (basically a guided walk that includes a performance of a play as we move around the area) on July 1st, 2012.  The play, entitled 'Sweetly Watered Place' will chart the history of Chilston Park and some of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the landscape over the years.
 
IF IT’S WET . .   YOU CAN STAY DRY!   We have a room inside the hotel in-case the weather is bad.

We need your help! 

The play will contain memories based on oral and written histories but also of the memories of local people.  We'd love to find out what you remember about the Heaths Countryside Corridor area.  Either let Sally Evans ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) know what you remember or fill in the questionnaire and return this.  Your stories will help us to record the history of the area that is so precious to us all as well as form an integral part of the performance on July 1st.


 

Ages of Windmill cast, 2011

 
Ice House Conservation Work About to Commence
Written by Mike Phillips   
Thursday, 27 October 2011 07:17
ice_house_circa_1965Work is due to start on Monday 31st October at the ice house in Chilston Ponds.  The aim of this work is to ensure that the ice house will not deteriorate further and to give visitors an impression of what would have been there in the past.  The ragstone facade will be repaired, though not to its former height and a door will be installed in the archway.  Other exposed brickwork will be repointed and the 'chute' where ice was dropped into the chamber will be repaired.  Look out for more information on this website soon about an open session where people can come and have a look at the ongoing work.ice_house_2011
 
Bull Heath, a Sand Pit, a Lichen Heath, a Sanctuary for Wildlife
Written by Debbie Adams   
Friday, 19 August 2011 15:16

Bull Heath, a site owned and managed by the Heaths Countryside Corridor (HCC) is a disused sand quarry. The remnant quarry has left a bowl in the landscape that has flourished as a sanctuary for wildlife.  The HCC proudly maintains the site and its rich diversity including lichen, pyramidal orchid and a wealth of specialist acid loving plants.

Sandmartins, the smallest member of the Hirundinidae family (swallows and martins) have been seen living in the sheer sand cliffs on the site. This summer migrant burrows into fresh cliff faces to lay their eggs. In conjunction with a clear cliff face, this species needs to eat a large number of insects to survive. The presence of a pond at Bull Heath increases the number and range of insects available to the birds and enables the species to breed successfully.

scrubby_pond_bull_heath_010A natural process called succession takes place in the quarry. Succession is the gradual formation of a climax community of plants. In this instance, woodland including alder and silver birch are establishing across the site. This process is impeding on the sites true value as an open lichen heath with low ground cover and open cliff faces for the sandmartin, solitary bees and other reptiles. Volunteers from the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership (KSCP) have been working with the HCC to remove areas of woody growth in an effort to maintin the high biodiversity value of the site.

KSCP volunteers cleared the pond area of all alder and silver birch growth, creating a vast open space for sandmartins to hunt for insects on the wing.

Other work included scrub clearance and management of an open glade behind the pond. Removing the vigorous growth of trees and scrub encourages an attractive array of flowers including white campion, vipers bugloss and common stork’s-bill to establish.

Managing the site in this way, with conservation volunteers, mirrors the effect that browsing animals such as goats would have on the site. open_pond_bull_heath_026Maintaining low vegetation and thus increasing floral diversity creates a honey-pot of pollen and nectar sources for butterflies, moths and insects.

Bull Heath is an idyllic spot and well worth a visit. If you would like more information on the HCC sites and where to find them click here.

If you are interested in conservation and would like to accompany the KSCP on some conservation tasks in the Ashford are please contact the KSCP on 01233 813307 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Summer Walk
Written by Mike Phillips   
Monday, 01 August 2011 10:29
HCC had their summer walk on July 17th at the end of a weekend that was notable for heavy rain and high winds.  Fortunately, the rain stopped just as 24 hardy souls gathered at Chilston Ponds to make their way to Bull Heath.Walkers assembling in Chilston ponds  The walk was led by Jason Mitchell of the RSPB who was able to speak to the assembed throng about the birds found on HCC sites.  We were also able to look at the trees and plants in Chilston Pines and Ponds as well as the animals that live on them.  Once the weather had improved a little further, even some of the birdlife ventured into the skies and we were fortunate enough to see some sand martins.  Sand martins take advantage of the many sandy cliffs in the area and are regular visitors to this part of Kent.  However, they will often vary where they breed and although no sand martins are breeding at Bull Heath we can expect to see them back again in future years.  A barbeque was waiting for the walkers, courtesy of Ruth and Karen, at Bull Heath as well as the Kent Wildlife Trust who ran pond dipping and invertebrate activities.  The evening was rounded off by a moth trapping session led by David Gardener who was able to find several of the rarer moth species including chocolate tip and Neofriseria singulaPond dippingThe Heaths Countryside Corridor would like to thank everybody who helped to make this event a success
 
Log-piles, Lizards and Newts
Written by Debbie Adams   
Monday, 18 April 2011 11:32

Under the warmth of spring sunshine, Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership volunteers created insect and reptiCommon_Lizardle kingdoms across the Chilston Ponds site. Many trees, boughs and odd branches laid scattered across the Chilston Ponds site creating a maize of obstacles for the tractor-mounted mower to avoid. The mowing regime is battling with the nutrient rich beds of common nettle in a bid to restore the unique and delicate acid grassland that lies dormant beneath.

 

Whilst assisting the tractor on its plight across the site, creation of dedicated log-piles forms an extensive cool and damp habitat. Inside which, many invertebrate and fungi thrive on the rotting and decaying underworld. In addition to the mini world of beast, the piles ensure the rare Great Crested Newt and other newt species have refuge for their long winter hibernation.

On the surface, the exposed boughs create basking sites for cold-blooded reptiles such as lizards that warm their bodies in the beaming sun.

In addition to habitat creation, the volunteers cleared the site of litter. Chilston’s position adjacent to the motorway causes a fair amount of windblown litter to enter the site. This in conjunction with certain visitors to the site causes an alarming number of plastic bottles and food wrappers to litter the area posing health risks to grazing livestock and wildlife on the site.

Volunteering is a great way to get closer to nature and experience some of Kent’s most beautiful and natural places. The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership volunteers meet every Wednesday to undertake countryside management work in the Ashford area. For more information please call 01233 813307 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Nocturnal Newts Noted in Night-time Visit to Chilston Ponds
Written by Mike Phillips   
Friday, 15 April 2011 11:28
Twenty six people gathered at Chilston Ponds last night to look for the elusive and highly protected great crested newt.  The evening’s proceedings were led by the Kent Reptile and Amphibian GroupIMG_1431 (KRAG) and the Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership and involved using powerful torches to try and find newts and other amphibians in the water beneath the water plants.  The two ponds on the site were both surveyed and 67 great crested newts were found as well as the smaller smooth newt.   Chilston Ponds is a good site for amphibians and this has been recognised by KRAG who have made it one of their Key Amphibian Sites.  The Heaths Countryside Corridor takes this responsibility very seriously and have taken steps to improve the ponds for amphibians by having the ponds deepened and cleared of vegetation.  The group has also constructed a new pond in Bull Heath and has recently found great crested newts in a small pond at Hurst Wood.
 
We Did Find the Ice House
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Friday, 11 March 2011 07:49
Ges Moody of the Trust for Thanet ArchaelogyOver 30 people attended a series of talks hosted by the Heaths Countryside Corridor last night in the Memorial Hall.  Ges Moody of the Trust for Thanet Archaeology presented the findings of some digs around the ice house last year and this was followed by a talk on recent archaeological work carried out by the Lenham Archaeology Society.  Many thanks to all those involved.  This talk formed part of the HCC's Heritage Lottery Funded Wandering and Wondering project that has all sorts of wildlife and heritage based events for all the community.  Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more details.
 
New Newsletter available to download
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:31
Download the first HCC Newsletter of the year icon HCC Newsletter Jan 11 (309.62 kB)
 
Coppicing in Hurst Wood
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:21

There was a poor turn out at the coppicing event held in November. Many thanks to those who did turn up.  A few glades were created in Hurst wood which will encourage a greater variety of wild flowers, grasses and insects to inhabit this ancient wood.

coppicing Hurst wood

 
If You Go Down to the Woods...
Written by Mike Phillips   
Thursday, 07 October 2010 09:08
WoodmouseHeaths Countryside Corridor volunteers were joined by Steve Kirk of the Kent Mammal Group on Saturday 2nd October and took a look around Hurst Wood to see if they could find any mammals.  We started off by looking at some of the hazelnuts that had been eaten by various animals and just by looking at the way that they had been broken into we could tell that squirrels, dormice and woodmice had been active in the woods.  This was followed by looking in some humane traps that had been set the previous day.  Of the 30 traps that had been set, 17 of them contained small mammals.  Most of them were woodmice but there was also a bank vole too.  The animals were then weighed (see picture) and released.  It was great to see that there is so much life in the woods that you would not normally see on a walk.  Thanks to the Kent Mammal Group for giving us this opportunity.
 
Unearthing the Ice House
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Thursday, 23 September 2010 08:18
Volunteers_at_WorkA beautiful weekend of autumnal sunshine greeted over 60 people as they set to work finding out what condition the ice house in Chilston Park was in.  Trowels, buckets, mattocks and shovels were all wielded as the ragstone facade of the ice house and the outline of the building itself was exposed for the first time in over 40 years.  Now we have to decide the most appropriate way to stabilise the structure so that it remains as a snapshot of the heritage of Chilston Park into the future.  A massive thanks to the Young Archaeologists, local residents, Lenham Archaeological Society and the Trust for Thanet Archaeology for their help making this a great event.
 
Swadelands have fun in Bull Heath
Written by Ruth Lovering   
Friday, 13 August 2010 19:44

Swadelands have fun in Bull HeathKSCPs Dan Salter lead a week of fun and educational outdoor and conservation based activities for the pupils of Swadelands School.  The week long event was well attended by up to 22 pupils and 4 staff from the school. During the week the children cleared scrub and trees, built shelters, went on minibeast hunts, made wooden mallets and log piles. On the last day the children cleared up all the litter in the site and had a bonfire.  Many thanks to Steve Kirk for his Guest appearance and informative wildlife discussion and to Dan for his enthusiastic leadership.

 

 
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Heaths Countryside Corridore

Charity No: 1097080 Company No: 4504311

This project has been made possible by the enormous help of the Rail Link Countryside Initiative (David Standen), Mid-Kent Downs Project (Sally Evans, Mike Phillips), Kentish Stour Countryside Project (Debbie Adams) and Kent Wildlife Trust (Neil Coombes) to whom we are very grateful.

 


Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership KSCP KWT Kent Downs
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MBC Ashford Borough Council
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Our Supporters

We are particularly grateful to the following supporters of the Heaths Countryside Corridor. If you’d like a link to your company to appear here, become a Corporate Member of HCC!

AJ & NM Carr Ltd (Coach company)
Pivington Mill, Pluckley, Tel: 01233 840651

CL2 (Hairdresser)
Cranbrook, 01580 715456, enquiries@cl2.co.uk, www.cl2.co.uk

Grafty Green Gardening Club

JKW Alexander Ltd (local farm)
Sandway, 01622 858348, kennethalexander@btconnect.com

Lenham Ironmongers Ltd (Household Stores)
Lenham, 01622 858286

Sharen Cain (certified accountant)
Lenham Heath, 01622 851851, sharen.cain@btconnect.com

The White Horse (Traditional Brithish & Authentic Mexican Cuisine)
Sandway, 01622 859511,  www.the-white-horse.com

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