Something a little different in today’s Kent, Our Kent… two delightful poems from Peter Bailey. The Pilgrims’ Way celebrates one of the nation’s walking trails, while Ode to Lenham nods to the dark threat of a new town threatening to envelop the village.
We’re gratetful to Mike Cockett for sending in a couple of lovely shots from his garden to embellish our Kent, Our Kent feature. “Too late to catch the clematis armandii,” says Mike. No matter, these shots are just the job.
The bluebells in our woodlands are now starting to fade, or ‘go over’, so we’d better move quickly to include this selection of images from Vicky Ellis in Kent, Our Kent. “Some of them are at a bit of an odd angle, but I like being creative,” said Vicky.
We are indebted to Alex Hills for today’s Kent, Our Kent contribution. Alex is CPRE Kent’s Gravesham district chairman and also a keen cyclist…
Today’s ride was to test my legs after a week off the bike and to test it out after the wheel was repaired. From home it was a short run down the A227 and out along the cycle path to Thong. Then it was a drop down to Lower Higham Road, which is a bleak but beautiful area on the Gravesend-Higham border. This area is always winding, being next to the River Thames, but the light means the colours are always changing. Then there were some big breaths before a lung-busting climb back up to the Cobham war memorial, which is one of my key local markers. The views from Cobhambury Road always recharge my soul and, with less air pollution, the views are better than ever. I never tire of the beauty of the views despite my tendency to hit high speeds on this downhill section, which has no sharp bends or potholes so is very much cycling heaven.
Next is a short run along the valley floor, stopping off to check on a local badger sett. Checking on setts while on rides is something I try to do as often as I can as it means someone else does not have to make a special trip out and gives me a focus to the ride. When I get to the now-quiet Golden Lion pub, it is down through the gears for the long climb up Henley Street, going past the very good beer pub The Cock Inn. At the top of the hill a few lanes take me to Whitepost Lane, which leads into Nurstead Church Lane. This wonderful road covered over in trees looks different each time I go down it. Even though this is a few minutes from my house and I cycle down it at least twice a week, I always look forward to cycling along this road. Near the top is the old Nurstead Church – I am pagan so have never been in it but the outside has a medieval feel about it. After the church it was a dash across the A227 before a test of nerve down the steep, twisting Park Pale Road and then down through the gears for the climb back up the other side.
Heart pounding, lungs heaving at Stony Corner, I was rewarded with a great view. From there is a short drop down the very dangerous Walnut Hill Road before another short run and a final climb home. Living on top of a hill means tired legs always have one more climb before a welcome brew and rest. People say you take for granted the beauty on your doorstep, but I never have, which is probably why I fight so hard to protect it. Since the lockdown the speed of cars has increased – please, please keep your speed down. Driving in the countryside, you must never go faster than you can stop and around every bend you must assume there will be a horse, cyclist or walker.
Today’s contribution for Kent, Our Kent comes from Jackie Moxey. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Jackie is daughter of Tricia Moxey, once of this county and now vice-chairman of CPRE Essex. The pictures were taken on a walk in the Hadlow and Plaxtol area. Thanks, Jackie!
Eileen Randall, one of Pegwell’s greatest environmental champions, has died at the age of 90. Eileen was one of the founder members of the Pegwell & District Association, set up in 1987 in response to plans for a railway line running through the bay and West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour. That scheme was defeated, as was a proposal for a road that would effectively have destroyed the bay’s fragile environment. If it had not been for Eileen and her friends in the association, Pegwell would be a very different place to what it is today and we have so much for which to thank her. Her cliff-top home, Driftwood, which she shared with husband Derek until he passed away in 2015, served as both centre of operations for the association – a CPRE member – and venue for parties and summer fairs as its flourishing social scene developed. Eileen’s health prevented her being involved with the association in later years, but her love of Pegwell never waned. She passed on Monday, April 27, and leaves behind sons Christopher and Julian.
For a deeper appreciation of Eileen and her efforts to protect Pegwell, see here
We are indebted to Kirsty Field for today’s images for Kent, Our Kent. They were taken at Ranscombe Plantlife Nature Reserve, near Cuxton. If you like to contribute to Kent, Our Kent, please send your photos and a brief description firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s contribution to Kent, Our Kent – in which we asked for photographs showing what we love about our county – comes from Henny Shotter, who takes up the story… “I try to visit every old church I pass and Kent has many jewels. These holy places can speak to you even if you are not religious in the traditional sense. “They also preserve more than anything else local history – in the building, in the monuments and the gravestones in the churchyard. “The photos are of St Thomas à Becket in Fairfield on Romney Marsh. The church sits in this field and is surrounded by grazing sheep. “The inside of the brick building is a huge surprise…”
A shade over a week ago, we asked for photographs of Kent that showed our county in its glory. The brief for Kent, Our Kent was wide-ranging (see here) and included anything from images of places we’re looking forward to seeing again to shots taken on our daily exercise walks. We have had an encouraging response, so thanks to all of you who have got back to us with pictures. We share the first of them here and there are many more to follow. Hopefully, you will be encouraged to send in your own contributions. Today’s shots come from our Tunbridge Wells chair, Liz Akenhead. She describes the first: “The Benenden Blue rosemary on my terrace has been flowering for weeks and it’s constantly buzzing with various sorts of bee and hoverfly. “It’s a wonderful decorative plant named after a beautiful Kent village, and it’s good to cook with, too.”
The second captures (in the nicest possible way) a striking-looking mammal. “It’s one of the three white squirrels we sometimes see in our garden,” said Liz.
Thanks to Liz. Everyone else, get snapping! In the meantime, take care and stay safe…
She did it! We speak, of course, of Vicky Ellis, who yesterday (Sunday) ran round her paddock 26(.2!) times to raise money for CPRE Kent. Her effort was part of the 2.6 Challenge, set up to help charities through this lockdown period. Vicky completed her 26.2 laps (some five or six miles) in 47.34 minutes, despite almost breaking her ankle on the final lap. No one is better placed to tell the story than Vicky herself, so over to our star athlete herself, who set the scene yesterday morning: “So it’s the day of my challenge. I’m surprisingly nervous. I’ve put markers at each corner of the paddock to make sure I don’t cut corners. I’m going to have very wet feet from the dewy grass. “So why support CPRE Kent? No other charity fights for the wider countryside, home to our flora and fauna, quite as well. They support communities, successfully hold developers to account and are full of genuine people who care deeply about our diminishing countryside. That’s why. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for your support. Xx” And, having got back her breath, a modest Vicky broke the news that she had made it! “To all supporters and countryside advocates, just a huge thank-you. My challenge wasn’t much of a challenge as I often run five or six miles – however, the fact I had so many of you support me has made me feel so grateful to you all. “Each and every one who has donated has demonstrated how important our countryside is to us. Anyone who knows me will know how important wildlife is to me and how much it figures in my life. It’s our countryside, but it’s their home and it’s the only one they have. When it’s gone, they have nowhere to go. SO THANK YOU! XX” And thank you, Vicky!
Vicky set herself a target of £500 but at the time of writing had secured an incredible total of more than £1,200 for CPRE Kent. There is still time to add to that total, so if you would like to reward Vicky’s efforts and help our charity please click here
With the exception of care workers and essential staff, each one of the rest of us is under serious but essential restriction of movement. However, we can dream and share moments of happier times that will return… and maybe lighten our days. At CPRE Kent we are inviting anyone (of all ages) in the county to share with us photographs and perhaps a short description of any of the following:
A virtual walk in the countryside. Photos and memories of past walks.
Exercise walks, runs or cycle rides that abide by the current restrictions. Photos and short descriptions of things that have given you pleasure:
new places that you discovered
people exercising in different ways
Places we are most looking forward to getting back to when this situation is over.
Home: have we learnt anything new about the nature viewed from our home?
February was CPRE Kent’s Free Will Month, run in conjunction with Whitehead Monckton, and we are pleased to continue this service to the end of the year. While it is on hold for now, we are able to put people on a waiting list on a first-come-first-served basis. Places are strictly limited. Details are presented below:
Why making a will is important
Making a will is good for you and your loved ones. It provides peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out, and the people you love taken care of.
Making a will can be good for the countryside too
By leaving a gift to CPRE Kent, The Countryside Charity, you will be joining thousands of people who want to stand up for our countryside. The countryside is ours and our children’s heritage and by leaving a gift to CPRE Kent you will help to fund successful campaigns, protecting the countryside into the future. With no funding other than from our members and supporters your gift is all the more valuable. CPRE Kent is the only charity that campaigns to protect the wider countryside throughout Kent. This means not limiting our support to purely ancient woodland, nature/wildlife reserves, Green Belts or AONBs or a specific species of flora or fauna, but all these important areas and more, including those parts of the countryside afforded no statutory protection.
Your gift in their memory, will go towards protecting our countryside into the future. You could celebrate your loved one’s life by setting up a fund with Just Giving, CAF Bank or by requesting gifts be placed in a simple donation box in lieu of flowers and making a one-off donation in your loved one’s memory.
What better way can there be to remember a loved one than by giving a gift to CPRE Kent, The Countryside Charity?
How a gift could help us do so much
You can join thousands of people who care and help CPRE Kent protect our precious and fragile countryside and biodiversity into the future for generations to come. CPRE Kent has teamed up with Whitehead Monckton to offer our supporters the chance to have a simple will written for free. Here are some of the ways a gift in your will could help us protect the countryside and the biodiversity within it, by:
Taking part in examinations
Commenting on planning applications
Providing advice and support
Paying for and providing expertise in environmental law, heritage, landscape, air quality, transport water and ecology etc.
Organising litter picks and collecting evidence
Raising awareness by attending events and visiting schools
Supporting local communities, towns and villages.
This offer is strictly limited. To find out more please call Vicky on 01233 714540 in confidence, or email Vicky.email@example.com.
Offer limited to 10 free wills only on a first come first served basis to anyone 50 years old and over for one simple will, or £100 towards a pair of mirror wills. Other solicitors are available for will writing but not in conjunction with this offer. It is not a condition of the Free Will Month to leave CPRE Kent any gift; the choice is personal to you.
It’s easy to make a will
You can download and fill in our Will Planner and/or call Vicky on 01233 714540 in confidence for a chat. Please stipulate if for the Free Will Month.
If making a will independently and you would like to leave CPRE Kent a gift, then please include the following information:
CPRE Kent or The Kent Branch of The Campaign to Protect Rural England
As we write, England has been in ‘lockdown’ for more than a week. It is an extraordinarily testing time and everyone involved with CPRE Kent hopes you are keeping safe and well. The restrictions on travel that have justifiably and correctly been placed on us all in a bid to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus are doubtless taking their toll, to varying degrees, on people across the county. Certainly, access to the countryside that we love and cherish has diminished drastically. Sadly, for many, there is quite simply no realistic access to the woods, marshes, downs, beaches and rural highways and byways that we find so uplifting. However, there is natural beauty around us wherever we are. We appreciate that might not always be instantly apparent – the countryside is out of reach for many. But look outside. Spring is upon us and soon the annual riot of colour that brings will be exploding into its full glory. You will see (and hear) birds. Butterflies and bees are on the wing. You might have foxes or hedgehogs visiting your garden. The list is endless. Hopefully, there is green space near enough for you to visit. That public park you once took for granted has never meant more! And, as we take the daily exercise that we are permitted, we will walk down different tracks, paths and roads and discover places on our doorsteps that we didn’t know existed. All of us will get to know where we live just a little better. We can’t deny, though, that some of our favourite places are effectively out of bounds for the time being. However, those places will still be there when this crisis is over – we will return and surely delight in them more. And CPRE Kent will be here doing all we can to keep them safe. The spread of Covid-19 is an awful, horrible thing that is bringing personal tragedy to families across the country, but there has never been a better time to take stock of what we hold dear and the things in which we believe. We all need countryside close by, whether that’s protected landscape in the form of Green Belt or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or simply a collection of farms or stretch of undeveloped land between towns. Or, yes, the local park or green. That proximity to open space should be a basic right of every citizen in England, whatever their circumstances, whether in city, town, suburb or country. So we ask you to join us in taking a walk, slipping on the running trainers or hopping on your bike to savour the natural treasures around you while keeping your health and fitness in as fine shape as reasonably possible. You might also choose to enjoy the lack of planes in the sky or the fewer cars, trucks and lorries around you – our air quality has not been this good in years. Over the coming weeks, CPRE Kent will be demonstrating a slight change of emphasis. We’re aware the threats to our countryside won’t go away – and we will stay vigilant – but this is a time to celebrate the joys of landscape and nature and to stress their value to every single one of us. We will do that through our website and via social media. We have plenty of thoughts of our own, but this is an evolving process and we would love to hear your ideas. Please phone us on 01233 714540, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime, please keep safe. This crisis will end and we can all play our part in bringing that about sooner rather than later. We will leave you with some words from our friends at CPRE Hampshire: “If you’re able to get out in nature, in a way that keeps you and others around you safe, take some time to appreciate the beautiful things we’re all working to protect.”
As the fightback against the development onslaught on Kent builds, a petition is being sent to Maidstone councillors asking them to stand up to housebuilding targets set by national government. The petition, set up by Peter Burton and titled Enough is Enough: Maidstone’s Housing and Infrastructure, requests councillors:
Challenge and campaign against national government’s housebuilding targets
Rethink the building of garden communities, which threaten places such as Lenham Heath, Marden and Langley
Do not accept new housebuilding levels that are unsustainable for the borough of Maidstone
Complete a full infrastructure assessment before the Local Plan Review and ensure all historical infrastructure issues are rectified across the borough before any projects commence
Be transparent and engage parish councils and local communities before any final decisions are made with regards to planning and new developments
If you would like to sign the petition, click here