If there’s one thing that had an effect on me after the past year and a half, is the desire to travel to more open spaces and get in touch with nature on a whole new level. This is why, when I was planning my holidays in Kent AONB last month, I ended up choosing a nature reserve as our very first stop.
Being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Kent has plenty of reserves to offer, each one with its own characteristics.
Driving from London to our cottage in Wichling, Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve was right on the way. Even though now I would probably tell you to choose the nearby Ashenbank Wood, walking for two hours immersed in the wild has definitely benefitted my mental health.
Getting there was fairly easy: more or less one hour and a half drive in the direction of Rochester, pay attention to the road because you will find a small sign on your right with the name of the Reserve and right there, up on a hill, there will be a small area with four or five parking spaces available.
There’s a few different walks available for you to choose, but there’s not a lot of signs once you get inside so make sure you check out the map at the entrance, you could even take a picture of it and bring it with you.
As soon as you enter the Reserve, you will be welcomed by tall ancient trees all around you, creating that sense of enchantment only woodlands can give you. Along the way you can spot wild vegetation like giant mushrooms and such, which could turn into a “treasure hunt” and be a nice activity for the whole family – just remember not to touch anything!
Once you pass the path in the woods, infinite fields of wildflowers will extend before your eyes and you’ll be able to admire different kinds of flowers depending on the season. We were there in July and, even though it was full of poppies, we were also able to see a lot of bluebells since the weather felt more like spring.
Along the path you might be seeing cattle walking around – we spent two hours in the Reserve and haven’t seen any, but we were there around midday so the timing might have been bad for it!
Being an oasis of wildflowers, you will encounter a lot of animals such as bees and mosquitos – the purpose of Plantlife International charity is to repopulate the country with these vital flowers, plants and animals.
Plantlife also works in association with the local farmer, so this makes Ranscombe a working farm. There will be forestry works in part of the woodlands every year so make sure you follow the proper path when you visit and don’t disturb any worker there.
The paths are nothing complicated so that it makes it ideal for a day out with the whole family, but remember you are still walking in the fields immerse in nature, paths might be covered with mud and there might be some minor difficulties along the way. Make sure you wear the right shoes and clothes for the occasion and remember not to bother any of the plants or animals, you are the one stepping in their house.